Restaurants and Contests: Four Unique and Strategic Approaches to Drive Business
A recent Pew Research Center study found that 51% of adults look to the Internet for restaurant information; 38% rely on search engines, 17% on specialty web sites, and 3% on social media sites or Twitter. Demographic-wise, the adults are more likely to be women, young adults and technology adopters. As Liza Porteus Viana writes, “Restaurants have to be very strategic with how they utilize social platforms – just trying to amass fans, “likes” or followers won’t cut it.”
We reached out to restaurants to hear about contests they’ve held. Our criteria for selection was that they be successful, unique and clever contests via social media. While the businesses we chose may share the commonality of all being restaurants, the nature of their campaigns differed in size and scope but all had a pleasantly unique angle on their contests.
We selected four for this article: Ling and Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, The Bistro Group, and Mia’s Pizza and Eats.
Contest with a Twist
Ling and Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill offered their Woktoberfest contest and teamed up with Widmer Brothers brewery to give away a paid trip for two to tour their brewery along with home brewing kits a wok-a-day, and food prizes. The promotion ran the month of October and featured a special Widmer beer infused menu with German influence.
Potential entrants were directed to the page where they would select their branded, local franchisee’s Facebook page and via in-restaurant table tents through QR code. Upon landing on the page, entrants were instructed to like the page as well as fill out a form for entry.
The Sweet & Sentimental Contest
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, “considered the oldest family name in Chicago deep dish pizza” offered two contests in 2011, one in conjunction with Home Run Inn (thin crust pizza) where they collaborated on a Facebook-based contest called Through Thick and Thin.
Together the restaurants recruited nearly 11,000 Facebook followers to select their favorite essay among 92 entries submitted on Facebook by married and engaged couples on their relationships. The prize: a wedding or vow renewal ceremony on one of the rooftops overlooking the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field during the game on June 13, 2011.
The winning couple was wed during the game and received TV news coverage.
Their second contest, Devoted to Deep Dish ran in February 2011, where users submitted 2-5 minute video clips to show their devotion to deep dish pizza by sharing a story, memory or their thoughts relating to Lou Malmati’s and what deep dish meant to them.
The restaurant specified that the clips would be judged “on creativity and your overall enthusiasm for Lou’s,” and that they could be “witty, sappy, dramatic, action packed – the possibilities are endless! ”
The Grand Prize winner received their choice of either a Lou Malnati’s 12-Month Taste of the Month mail-order package from Tastes of Chicago or a Lou Malnati’s gift card worth $1,000 which can be used at any Lou Malnati’s restaurant/carry-out location and online.
Take a look at the 1st Place Winner: Lou’s Girl.
A Contest for a Cause
The Bistro Group (the third largest franchisee of T.G.I. Friday’s) held their second annual Can For A Fan virtual food drive from Wednesday, November 9 – Saturday, December 31, to benefit regional food banks. For each new Facebook fan Friday’s promised to donate one can of food to a local charity. They announced the drive saying that they would continue through 12/31 or until 5,000 cans had been donated.
The Bistro Group utilized table toppers and posters, No.1 Can Fan (employees) in each of their locations to make sure guests were aware and that employees participated. The Can Fans wore a T-shirt that said, “No.1 Can Fan” and on the back there was a QR code and which said Scan Me. The QR code took the directly to the “Can for a Fan” Facebook landing page so they could immediately fan the restaurant and/or forward to their friend.
Contest with an Artistic Flair
Mia’s Pizza and Eats is a family-owned and operated pizzeria in Cumming, Georgia. For National Pizza Month which occurs in October they held a Pizza Box Art contest where contestants were asked to decorate a used pizza box turning the top into a canvas for the artwork.
There were two age categories: Elementary, 6-11; Middle/High, 12-17. The elementary winner received a pizza party for their friends. The middle/high winner received a free large pizza of choice each month for a year.
They promoted the event on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare pages. They also promoted the event to mommy bloggers to come into the store, try the food, and learn about their business. The bloggers received $20 gift certificates for use of give-aways on their sites.
Are you using contests for your restaurant? What unique and fun spin have you taken? Let us know in the comments below.