Social media gets results for U.S. chain 

Bonefish Grill, a chain of about 160 restaurants operated by OSI Restaurant Partners in Tampa, Fla., knows how to put social media to work.

One of only three seafood-restaurant chains included in Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 100 Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), Bonefish recently promoted its recent “Here Lobster, Lobster” sweepstakes extensively on its website, Twitter account, Facebook page and other social media outlets. Bonefish Grill was ranked 13th on the second-quarter RSMI, released in late August, behind only mega chains like Starbucks, Wendy’s and McDonald’s, while Red Lobster was rated 81st.

“[Social media] is a great way for our brand to share ‘insider information’ on upcoming specials and events in our restaurant. On occasion, we hold contests and reward our social media guests with special offers or experiences,” said Lou Ann Banks, director of marketing for Bonefish Grill. Bonefish’s owner, OSI, recently filed an initial public stock offering.

Bonefish Grill entered the social media world early, actively using it since 2008, when it began posting videos on YouTube. In early 2009, its marketing team extended Bonefish’s reach to Facebook and Twitter. Bonefish also has a strong presence on Foursquare, Yelp, Google+ and Pinterest.

The chain’s keys to social media success include making social media interaction a two-way conversation and maintaining a very fast response rate, “specifically on Facebook and Twitter in order to generate an active, real-time conversation,” said Banks.

“Social conversations with our guests are not an advertising platform. Rather, we interact and have fun with our guests through social media and provide interesting brand information that is not found in our advertising. It is also an opportunity to be light-hearted and silly and also become very real to our consumers,” Banks added.


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