Toledo customers take to Facebook to earn next Quaker Steak & Lube

Quaker Steak & Lube has 62 US restaurant locations and a large and passionate customer base that it regularly engages on Facebook.

Client: Quaker Steak & Lube (Sharon, PA)
Agency: Gatesman+Dave (Pittsburgh, PA)
Campaign: I Want My Quaker Steak & Lube
Duration: February 6 - April 22, 2013
Budget: $18,000

Quaker Steak & Lube has 62 US restaurant locations and a large and passionate customer base that it regularly engages on Facebook.

Shannon Baker, partner and director of PR and social media at the company's long-time AOR Gatesman+Dave, says the idea to run a Facebook campaign that allowed customers to choose the location for the next restaurant opening emerged after  analysis and segmentation of the brand's social media audience revealed a “large population of restaurant requesters.” 

“People are so loyal to the brand that once they've been to a restaurant or when they move from a heritage market such as Ohio or Pennsylvania, they want their Quaker Steak & Lube wherever they are,” explains president and CEO John Longstreet. “Our customers are very connected to the restaurant and have a strong sense of ownership. We wanted to increase social media engagement and continue to make them feel like true partners in Quaker Steak & Lube by letting them choose our next location.” 

Strategy
Location nominations were collected on a custom Facebook app on Quaker Steak & Lube's corporate Facebook page.

The campaign was promoted on all franchise's Facebook pages (which reach more 600,000) and on Twitter.

In keeping with its core values “to create happiness” the company made a cash donation to a local charity in each of the top three cities nominated. 

Tactics
First-round nominations were collected February 2 to 20. During this phase, participants could type in a location or choose from a drop-down menu of major metropolitan cities. The top 10 locations were announced February 20 and voted on through April 2, when the field was narrowed to five. 

Emails and tweets using the hashtag #IWantMyQSL helped drive traffic and voting. Tweets with the hashtag were streamed into the app.

The app also included a map of existing Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant locations, facts about each city, and links to each franchise's Facebook page. 

Real-time posts kept the audience aware of regional standings and rankings for the top locations.

Toledo, OH, narrowly beat out Orlando, FL, as the winning location. State College, PA, came in third. 

Longstreet announced the winners on April 17 in a YouTube video that was embedded in the app and tweeted out.

Results
Total Facebook reach was up 257% to 401,135 compared to the 70 days prior to the campaign.

The app drew 5,958 visits, 1,700 nominations, 2,670 votes, and 424 opt-in email subscribers. Likes on the corporate Facebook page increased from 41,330 to 42,432. 

“Though we can't tie this campaign directly to sales, we did have a very strong first quarter - stronger than most of the restaurant segment,” Longstreet says. “And we believe that by keeping our social media fans engaged, we keep them as customers.”

The campaign also revealed valuable information for future expansion planning. 

Future
The Toledo restaurant will likely open in late 2014. A campaign focused on menu items and sauces will launch in the next few months.

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