Shrimp & S’mores: Social Campaign Marks Social Evolution, Spurs Action.

Article originally posted on Linkedin on July 25th, 2015 – 

Shrimp & S’mores: Social Campaign Marks Social Evolution, Spurs Action.

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On July 21st I witnessed change. I tasted it too. A business harnessed the power of social media, cultivating collaborative action and mass engagement of stellar proportions. I smiled, as it further solidified a social evolution in business. I couldn’t help but reminisce on my 2009 collegiate media studies capstone class discussion with Dr. Bruce Ellingson on one of the keys to social media’s ability to evolve and thrive: human connections enhanced through technology.

It was similar to most Tuesday mornings, except that after an energizing morning workout, prioritization of my to-do list, and a social surf of the latest updates by those I consider “social advisors” (via Twitter lists of people and companies of personal relevance), I came across Applebee’s #TasteTheChange campaign through the news feed of one of my social role models, Brian Fanzo (@iSocialFanz).

I clicked on the Periscope feed and was immediately captivated. The three engaging hosts, Vincenzo Landino, Sunny Lenarduzzi, and Brian Fanzo, allowed me and others to be a part of this one-day-only event. Applebee’s was giving away 2,000,000 special appetizers across their US restaurants: new fan-favorites  Sriracha Shrimp and S’more Churros. Yet, what bears highlighting is how they increased brand awareness and engaged new audiences by connecting the masses via new social technologies. I’ve highlighted the top three reasons why the Applebee’s campaign is a significant example of “social done right” for present day and future:

  1. Social Technology Choices – On July 21st, Applebee’s cornered the social media space by promoting a “way to virtually connect” to their #TasteTheChange experience on all the primary social channels. The ability to join the action via Periscope and Meerkat was advertised not only through Facebook and Twitter, but through leveraging influential hosts’ audiences to help spread the message to their target market.
  2. Authentic Mass Engagement & Feedback – A key point of social evolution” in Applebee’s method was authentic engagement based on open and honest feedback through social technology. The power of harnessing the digital human network was apparent, but what showed further progression of social evolution was the multiple live on-site feeds: “We,” the virtual audience, were taken around the US to multiple different locations, from on the street in NYC, to different Applebee’s restaurants to watch as staff not only told people about their special offer and got feedback from others in the restaurant, but also as they broadcast other customers’ live video feed (via Periscope) as they shared their feedback. This was a bold step for Applebee’s, as what happens live is unpredictable, but it was very entertaining for everyone involved.
  3. Collaborative Execution of Call to Action – When multiple different business units work together, the result can be stellar, which was exemplified by Applebee’s execution of the #TasteTheChange campaign (from the outside looking in). From the virtual advertisements and in-sync web presence to communications to prepare the restaurants’ staff about the special appetizer day, it appeared to go very well. I, as a customer, knew exactly what I wanted to do: #TasteTheChange!

I’d like to give a very big high-five to the Applebee’s social media team and to those who allowed them to embrace new ideas! It was great to watch and to taste the change that evening at our local Applebee’s. The Sriracha Shrimp was my favorite! Thank you, Applebee’s!

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