Having a Facebook page is one thing; keeping fans engaged and successfully leveraging it in strategic ways to build new and repeat business is, as marketers well know, no small feat.
Burgerville, which in recent times has been focusing on attracting more customers in the 20-to-30 age range, views Facebook, Twitter and other social media first and foremost as critical enablers of "direct, one-to-one conversations" with guests, stresses Director of Marketing Cathy Miller.
At the same time, the QSR chain has employed Facebook, in particular, for a variety of promotions/contests that encourage existing fans to try new items, bring new faces into its restaurants, and provide valuable feedback on the preferences of young adults.
Currently, the main Facebook effort is "March Menu Madness," described by Miller as Burgerville's "own version of the NCAA Tournament." Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite menu item, from a list of 16, by clicking into an app on the Facebook fan page. Voting will take place in four rounds over four weeks (more chances to engage), with the winner to be announced on April 9.
For voters, there's no prize, just the fun of helping influence the "favorites" outcomes. For Burgerville, the promotion is not just fun and games, but another way to yield nuggets of insight into that target demographic, as well as build and engage its fan base.
This year's Madness event is an expanded version of one run last March, which drew 717 votes and helped drive more than 300 individuals to sign up as new Burgerville fans, reports Miller. Thus far, in the first five days of this year's "tournament," more than 100 fans have voted and 60 new fans have signed up -- bringing total Facebook fans to some 17,800 since the page was launched in summer 2008.
The chain also is using Facebook to engage fans in "Tasting Tuesdays." Initiated last year after it introduced gourmet/seasonal entrées featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients, this promotion simultaneously gives fans an exclusive offer and encourages them to sample and provide feedback on new items.
On the second Tuesday of each month, the first 150 fans who have entered are designated "Very Important Fans (VIFs)" and provided with free passes to sample several menu items (usually three out of four possible selections) at their local Burgervilles. Entering requires submitting name and email address to VIF@burgerville.com. Once selected as a VIF, an individual may participate in the contest every four months.
Last December, Burgerville also held a separate Tasting Tuesday evening to thank fans during the holiday season. This was opened up to the brand's Twitter followers, as well, and 300 fans/followers won free sampling rights.
When the brand reached 10,000 Facebook fans last July, a contest ("10,000 BV, a Delicious Time in History") was held to thank fans for their support. Entering required submitting basic contact information, and winners were selected at random. The grand prize winner received a $50 gift card, 10 runners-up won a jar of Burgerville Spread, and all fans received a coupon for a free seasonal milkshake or smoothie with purchase of a menu item of equal or lesser value. Nearly 800 fans entered.
Another promotion let fans know that the chain's one-millionth Walla Walla Sweet Onion Ring would soon be sold to some lucky guest, and that the purchaser would receive a $100 gift card and a specially made T-shirt. (The winner was also greeted/congratulated by Burgerville's chief cultural officer, Jack Graves, VP, quality assurance/guest experience Danise Combs, and Miller.)
The brand's Facebook page also, of course, provides frequent updates about the company, the menu and specific restaurants, as well as images, videos and news articles.
One ongoing use for Facebook is alerting burger fans about upcoming visits to their areas by the Burgerville "Nomad," a 24-foot-long mobile restaurant that has been traveling the country since July 2009. The mobile unit is used to test new restaurant locations cost-effectively and generate advance word-of-mouth.
Nomad alerts are also one key use for Burgerville's Twitter account, which has drawn about 3,900 followers since its launch in December 2008.
Burgerville currently has 39 restaurants in Washington and Oregon, with more in the planning stages.