What is in this article?:
- Texas Roadhouse boosts social media efforts
- Driving customer engagement
The casual-dining chain has has increased its social media efforts and investments to amplify its traditional marketing.
Understanding new social media platforms and how they integrate with established services like Facebook are top of mind for brand marketers attending the Expion Smart Social 2013 conference this week in Raleigh, N.C.
Raleigh-based Expion is a social media software and strategy firm that consults with brands across several industries, including restaurants.
Like many restaurant brands, 390-unit casual-dining chain Texas Roadhouse has increased its social media efforts and investments to amplify its traditional marketing. Since the brand only advertises in 47 states with local marketing, investing in social media was key to creating a “megaphone effect,” said Tyler Durham, digital marketing specialist for Louisville, Ky.-based parent Texas Roadhouse Inc.
“Texas Roadhouse’s strategy has always been to live off word-of-mouth marketing,” he said. “We know we’re not going to outspend our competitors on ad buys or digital marketing tools, so we look at social as an area where we can own that segment.”
Durham and colleague Tyler Chesser, Texas Roadhouse’s marketing coordinator, spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News about the brand’s social media challenges and solutions.
What do you hope to learn at this conference?
Durham: Local-store marketing has always been a key component to Texas Roadhouse as a brand. We don’t do any national TV, radio or print, so all of our marketing is really focused at the local level. Coming to this type of conference is about learning how we can use these social tools and strategies to get better at creating those relationships online that form loyal brand advocates and how we can get them sharing the Texas Roadhouse story if they aren’t already.
Chesser: We’re trying to make sense of all the data that’s out there and figure out ways that we can improve our business from it. We want to improve our operations and what we do on a daily basis, because those answers are out there. But we need to find out what people are already saying about our brand and what they want from us.
What keeps you up at night as the social media leads for Texas Roadhouse?
Durham: Certainly you always have those worst-case scenarios in mind, and not responding to guests fast enough is probably one of the things we struggle with the most, because we really only have a couple folks that manage close to 400 pages on Facebook alone. Now we just have a national Twitter presence, but if we were to go down to a similarly local level, how would we train all those locations, and could we use tools like Expion’s to prevent those social media crises that happen in casual dining every day? You’re never going to eliminate those mistakes, so how do you utilize social tools to connect with guests and make it right from the brand’s perspective?
Chesser: The other thing is creating content and having content that’s usable and shareable for our brand. We always like to say we’re not a couponing company, so what kind of content can we share that our guests want to interact with? It’s a challenge, and how do we utilize what our fans are already saying and re-generate it into something useful.