Industry News | July 1, 2014 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes Get Social Media Savvy

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp.
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Measuring the success of social media engagement for a quick-service brand often depends on an operator’s goals. For California-based Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., parent company to Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, digital platforms are an ideal venue for feedback and crowdsourcing. Earlier this year, the company took to Facebook to revamp a staple email polling campaign and get more consumers excited about its annual February Guest Favorites promotion.

“In previous years, Garden Fresh reached out to their email subscribers with a more simple form asking for their feedback,” says Alexa Tierney, business manager at Red Door Interactive, the ad agency employed by Garden Fresh for the campaign. “The purpose of this social media campaign was to find a new way to connect with these fans who could not only share their feedback, but vote and be rewarded for that as well.”

During a 13-day contest, dubbed “13 Days of Menu Faves,” fans were invited to vote on their favorite menu items from different categories through a specialized tab on the brands’ joint Facebook page. Blog posts and dedicated emails to subscribers kept guests who were not on Facebook informed and involved in the process.

“Garden Fresh has extremely loyal guests, and one of the main reasons they come to us is for our food,” says Jennifer Scheer, director of marketing at Garden Fresh. “They’re excited about any chance they get to tell us what their favorite menu items are.”

Scheer adds that since the menus at both Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes change often with rotating selections, guests are quick to jump at the chance to offer feedback. The campaign resonated especially well with Millennials, she says. “Garden Fresh brands a wide variety of consumers, and social media is one of the ways we engage the younger consumer.”

The results of the campaign suggest the transition to Facebook was a successful one for crowdsourcing feedback, Tierney says. “We had over 55,000 votes for specific menu items, and for the contest piece of it, we had over 40,000 entries,” she says. During the 13 days, the joint Facebook page also garnered 28,434 new fans.

By Tamara Omazic