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Fast Casual + Social Media: Tips for Creating a Successful In-Store Promotion

Posted 19 November 2015 9:00 AM by Stephanie Cook @ MoxieUSA, @stephaniewcook

Brands in the fast casual restaurant arena have realized that social platforms are their ultimate playground. Whether it’s promoting tasty sandwiches through high-quality images, featuring stellar employees in short videos or showing brand personality through playful GIFs, these establishments are exploring all opportunities and testing the waters — fearlessly. 

Topping everyone’s list in this evolving world of social media campaigns: in-restaurant promotions. These events are heavily highlighted through social media and revolve around a plethora of ideas. Some brands celebrate a day of free food at participating locations if consumers fulfill a specific request, such as dressing up in a designated outfit or saying a promoted tagline when they order food. Other brands don’t ask consumers to do anything except show up for a discounted treat. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is — at least for the consumers.

While fans love these on-site promotions, the behind-the-scenes people who bring these events to life can face a lot of stress. It requires a lot of careful planning and coordination to serve up a successful — and (literally) tasteful — experience. That said, here are three tips for running an effective, on-site fast casual promotion. Follow this advice and you’ll immediately increase your chances of getting people to show up, participate, have a great time and — the ultimate goal — become loyal brand advocates.  

1) Develop a content strategy for pre-event promotion and day-of amplification. Getting the word out about the event is, of course, important. Yet it’s equally crucial to get folks engaged. If nobody knows your event is happening — or, worse — wants to be involved, there is zero pay-off for anyone. The best way to let people know you are hosting a big event is to simply tell them. How you will communicate this message is the tricky part. Media type, content cadence and paid media are all factors that need to be thought out to make sure the event message is promoted in the most strategic way possible. Knowing the audience you are trying to reach with event messaging helps determine these factors. 

2) Be 100% prepared for community management the day of the event. If the event is promoted strategically via social media channels, it is safe to assume the community engaging with it will increase their conversation around it on the actual day. Having a community manager dedicated to each platform the day of the event is key to ensuring consumers know the brand cares about their overall experience — good or bad. If someone tweets a picture of his/her food on event day to give the restaurant a shout-out, a community manager should be there — i.e., on Twitter, Facebook, etc. — to respond to that person and say thank you. If a customer heads to Facebook and complains about his/her experience, you should respond just as quickly with an apology and an offer to address the situation.

To be prepared to respond to all types of inquiries, it is crucial to have response matrices developed for every brand channel, even if the event is not promoted on that platform. Consumers can go on any social media channel and engage whenever they please, so having responses ready for each is crucial for a brand, whether facing positive or negative sentiment. It is always best to be prepared for anything when running an event-based social media campaign to avoid a PR crisis. We don’t want a Taco Bell situation now, do we? 

3) Develop a post-event content strategy to thank fans for attending and get them excited for future events. It’s vital to remind people about the event and (hopefully!) how much they enjoyed attending it — and that’s where a post-event content strategy comes in. Not only does it keep the excitement and the conversation going long after the actual event, but it also lets folks who couldn’t join in on the fun see what they missed out on. Highlights from the day can be shown and shared, as can posts thanking fans for attending to support the brand. 

Planning a big fast casual event and promoting it using social media can seem like a daunting task. These tips can help you and your team develop a strategy to set your brand — and your fans — up for a successful experience.     

What advice do you have for planning a successful fast-casual in-store promotion over social media? Do you have more tips to help minimize stress and maximize success? If so, please share them below.

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