Krystal Opens Social Networking Lounge

Since 2005, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Krystal has built its ad and marketing strategy around "Krystal Lovers"--folks who just can't get enough of the burger chain's offerings. Now it's building an online community where they can share the love.

Beginning next year, Krystal will officially invite these lovers, and their friends, to hang out at the Krystal Lovers Lounge, accessible through www.krystal.com. By signing up as lounge members, Krystal Lovers can post profiles, download video game trailers and clips, and chat with other Krystal fans.

Krystal informally launched the lounge in August, said Tiffany Rosenberger, senior marketing coordinator for the 440-unit chain, which has a cult following in the Southeast. The site, designed by Atlanta-based SuperGroup, currently has 2,000 registered users, thanks mostly to word of mouth and in-store POP.

During beta testing, the chain made one significant change to the lounge setup. The original site allowed users to post only one Krystal story (for instance, a Krystal-related road trip story, or the saga of their first Krystal burger). When the lounge is formally launched early next year, users will be able to post multiple stories to their profiles.

Krystal will use the member list for marketing; for instance, it's already sent an e-mail blast to current members informing them of the upcoming changes. The company will also be able to send messages to individuals who have posted profiles.

So far, the most popular Krystal Lovers Lounge features are video game trailers and a viral video media player with Krystal-related video clips. "We find YouTube clips and embed them into a media player to show what other Krystal Lovers are doing out there," Rosenberger said.

The lounge complements Krystal's current marketing and advertising strategy, which features real-life Krystal Lovers on packaging and in television commercials from Varnsen Group in Atlanta.

"We're very Krystal Lovers-focused. This lets us interact with them, and it's another way to get more information," said Rosenberger.

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