Social media is a potentially powerful marketing tool that can build brands and grow businesses. “Potentially” is the key word – harnessing the capabilities of social media has proven difficult for many brands. Also, dynamics of social media consumption (user-driven, highly interactive communication) differ dramatically from traditional marketing communication conducted via mass media advertising. Applying old-school marketing thinking does not usually turn out well in social media marketing.
One brand that appears to get social media and is working it effectively to build customer relationships and grow sales is Moe’s Southwest Grill. The restaurant chain as deftly integrated social media campaigns and mobile marketing into its existing platform. Moe’s has used a variety of tactics to engage customers and drive sales. Examples include:
- A check-in program in which customers posting Facebook or Foursquare check-ins earned “chips” toward earning prizes
- A Twitter campaign in support of its annual Free Queso Day promotion
- A Facebook contest “Raise the Salsa Bar” in which 700 people submitted salsa recipes, one of which will be offered in Moe’s locations nationwide next year
- Mobile advertising in support of Free Queso Day, targeting mobile users within five miles of Moe’s locations on the day of the event
- Ordering through Moe’s mobile app
Moe’s social media strategy is effective because the company understands three keys to social media marketing success:
- Give people a voice by inviting them to participate – Submitting salsa recipes as well as having Facebook fans vote on the 10 finalists
- Reward people for their engagement – The mobile check-in program and spreading the word about Free Queso Day through Twitter hashtags and Facebook posts are ways to give something back to customers and encourage them to bring more business your way
- Measure performance using metrics relevant to the business – Likes and followers do not translate into dollars; Design social media campaigns so that their impact is traceable. Moe’s measured activity (e.g., the number of mobile check-ins and number of tweets) and outcomes (an increase of 18% in net profit was realized for the Free Queso Day promotion).
Social media is not a stand-alone activity that is separate from other marketing tactics, nor is it separate from overall business strategy. Evaluate your social media strategy to determine if the elements of invite, reward, and measure are in place.