Red Lobster: “Sea’s” social media differently

Amanda    October 16, 2014

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Organization Name: Red Lobster

Industry: Restaurant

Web ReferencesRed Lobster’s Facebook Page

We live in a world where we’re all connected and information is exchanged faster than I could have typed this sentence. Social media is the new way of interacting and organizations need to be part of this world to stay relevant and build relationships by engaging with their customers. An important part of any relationship is trust and through effective communication and transparency with their Clients, organizations can build this trust.

Spending your time as a company on building relationships with your customers via social media will make it more likely that individuals feel the same about the effort you’ve each put into the relationship. With a mutual value for the time spent on building this trust, they’re more likely to turn to you for the product or service you offer over a competitor and stick with you through trying times.

Let’s examine Red Lobster! According to the NRN Social 200 which ranks the social media activity of restaurant chains in the US, Red Lobster is number one with a score of 879 out of 1000. They’re definitely doing something right in engaging their customers over social media with 5 million followers and 103.9K active participants on Twitter.

What are some great habits of a company that successfully engages with their customers? Be active on social media! Don’t just be reactive, go out there and ask your customers a question, get their opinions and don’t forget to address any issues that may arise. Red Lobster wishes fans happy holidays, asks customers about their favourite combination during their “Endless Shrimp” event and stays involved with these posts. Here’s a post from National Dessert Day:

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They have a great way of getting customers involved who enjoy a selfie or taking picture of their food with their “LobStar of the Week” event. Each week restaurant goer’s submit their pictures of their time spent at a Red Lobster restaurant. This creates a sense of community between fans, friendly competition that also highlights Red Lobster’s products and engages people they may not have been previous fans or customers.

A great example of this is when Christine Friar who blogs for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, submitted her picture. A quote from an article on Social Media Today describes her impact:

“she rallied together friends and blog followers alike to like her post on Red Lobster’s page discussing how her visit to Red Lobster had been her first and she enjoyed it so much that she wanted to share photos of the experience in the hopes that one could be chosen for the LobStar of the Week title. Over 300 people liked Christine’s post and less than a month later, she reported back to her blog that she had been picked as the LobStar of the Week and would be on the Facebook cover photo for the next seven days. By blogging about her positive experience with Red Lobster on her established Tumblr account and continuing to spread strong word of mouth on Twitter, Christine undoubtedly brought in more traffic and fans to the Red Lobster Facebook page and might have even inspired more fans to submit their own pictures in for LobStar consideration.”

Picture posting is the ultimate way to share a piece of yourself over social media and Red Lobster has found a way to integrate that into their engagement strategy which is what makes it so successful.

Feeling inspired? Here’s a great video on ideas for content for your organization:

Five Social Media Content Ideas for Excellent Customer Engagement

What type of return does Red Lobster they get on their social media investment?

Red Lobster is benefiting from the relationships being built over social media is by offering the option of buying “eGift Cards” via their Facebook page. Add a personalized voice message, send to your resident Red Lobster fan and voila! Your present is taken care of and Red Lobster will be seeing you and hopefully a few friends, soon.

“Some of the new marketing and digital capabilities that we’ve added really are designed to enable us to have much more robust, one-on-one conversations with guests,” chief executive Clarence Otis said during Darden’s second-quarter earnings call in December. “As those scale up, we would expect our television marketing expenses to scale down dramatically. So it is an upfront investment in really trying to meaningfully improve the business model down the road.”

Lessons Learned:

Engaging customers is about being involved and getting your customers involved in everything that your company is about. Whether there are holidays that everyone celebrates or event that your company is throwing, social media is a great way to get your customers involved and talking about your product. By doing this on a regular basis, it creates a relationship or bond with your brand that can result in more than a great conversation!

Ready to start improving your customer engagement strategy via social media? Listen to this micro e-minute by Kenneth Manesse Sr. 

e-Minute on Social Media Engagement

ReferencesThe NRN Social 200Social Media TodaySocial Media MarketingPaysRed Lobster

Submitted By: Amanda Ganie, University of Waterloo

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If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.