"Because at Red Lobster, we Sea Food differently." And with that little play on words, seafood chain restaurant Red Lobster officially cements itself as both a brand and a Facebook page that sees interacting with fans, regular customers, and new visitors alike differently than competing restaurants. What brings over 2,500,000+ people to like and actively engage with the brand on a daily basis and what can your business, whether it specializes in food or another industry, pick up from what Red Lobster is doing right?
1) The "LobStar of the Week" Effect
One of the coolest ways Red Lobster is utilizing social media is in their feature, LobStar of the Week. A "LobStar" is a photo of a Red Lobster restaurant goer enjoying their meal in a unique way and sending in a photo to be considered for as a LobStar, who gets their picture placed in a special frame on the brand page's cover photo.
Past LobStars have been pictured holding up snow crab legs in between their fingers and using cheddar bay biscuits as a set of eyes. The most recent LobStar was Christine Friar, photographed using shrimp as dangling earrings. Christine is also a blogger for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and a blogger at her own popular Tumblr blog, Drink Your Juice, in which prior to being picked as a LobStar, 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.
2) "Buy Gift Cards"
As with most aspects of any business, social media needs to be able to deliver ROI of some sort back to the company no matter how big or small the business is. Red Lobster makes it possible to purchase eGift Cards through Facebook that can be bought anytime, 24/7. You can email the cards over to the recipient instantly or share the gift on their Facebook page. These gift cards even take up one more personalized notch by adding the ability to include a recorded voice message with the card and pick a card design specific to the occasion, whether it's a birthday or a quick thank you. Makes the standard gift card rack at the grocery store look pretty bland in comparison, doesn't it?
3) Food Photos. So Many Pictures of Food.
If it gets you salivating, then you'll probably like it. If it inspires you to skip making dinner for the night and treat yourself to eating out, then the pictures are working. But if it includes a quick blurb above the photo on how much the tasty dish you're staring at is and what time of the day you can get it at, then the pictures have absolutely done their job. Including pictures of food, or the product that you're selling, is always great for any business to have on their Facebook page because it gets people liking and talking fast. Just be sure you include information on where and how they can get what they like.
4) Talk to Your Fans Actively
Don't take it for granted that they'll stay or be responsive if you don't start up a conversation. Red Lobster often wishes fans happy holidays, with the additional question included inquiring as to how they're celebrating, encourages submissions in for their video contests, and addresses issues that come up with the company and are brought to light in the news with fans as well, rather than ignore anything. Great seafood is definitely a big portion of Red Lobster's pride and passion, but I'd venture to guess that their well maintained and creative Facebook account also gets included in there too.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.