How Applebee’s Delighted Me with Social Media

How Applebee’s Delighted Me with Social Media

My Story

So, it’s Friday night and me and the fam are going out to dinner.

Being the super exciting suburban family that we are, we found ourselves faced with the very tough, all too common decision between Chili’s and Applebee’s. (You can follow me on Twitter for more thrilling ways to live vicariously through us.)

My wife, the coupon master, surprisingly didn’t have one for either spot. Twitter to the rescue:

Actually, I have a confession to make here. We were already seated at Applebee’s when I sent that Tweet. But, being familiar with Applebee’s presence on social media, I was 99.999998 percent sure they were going to win the #BrandTweetRace. (As an aside, I’d love for the #BrandTweetRace hashtag to become a thing; I’ve always wanted to create “a thing.”) Anyway, I was right and within three minutes Applebees Tweeted back, including the requested coupon – score!

That’s an amazing response time, even for Twitter.

Also, I love that people manning Applebee’s Twitter accounts use initials to “sign” the Tweets. Even though it’s a big brand Tweeting me, the initials make it feel like a conversation with an actual human.

So the conversation continues, because I’m a dork like that and I enjoy seeing how much a brand will engage with me on the Twitter:

I purposely left out anything in this last Tweet that would prompt a response. This could have easily ended the conversation. But, as you may have guessed, it didn’t:

There are a couple things about this perfectly short Tweet I feel are worth pointing out.

One is the timing. This Tweet came in about 20 minutes later and prompted me to show them my #BurgerSelfie (which is a part of the coupon they sent that incorporates an Instagram promotion/contest – more awesome social). ~ARD gave me enough time to get settled and maybe even have the food to take the selfie with.

Another is the personality ~ARD was able to portray with just one word and a winky face. He knows they’re kicking the crap out of Chili’s on social and made a little joke out of it.

Unfortunately, my phone’s connection wasn’t great in the restaurant and I didn’t see the request for my #BurgerSelfie until the ride home. Having had plenty of fun already, of course I was happy to oblige with the next best thing and Tweeted back a selfie with my take out box:

Before you ask, in retrospect, I have no idea why I took the selfie with me peeking over the to-go box. I am, admittedly, not an experienced selfie-taker (I think this may very well be the first one I ever put on social). Or maybe I was channeling my childhood obsession with ninjas (specifically G.I. Joe’s Storm Shadow), but I digress. Apparently, it was good enough for ~ARD, who proceeded to follow up on our dining experience:

To which I happily responded:

Obviously, the embedded Tweet couldn’t handle the entirety of my (self-proclaimed) clever hashtag, but the whole thing was “#DontKnowApplebeesPreferredHashtagButBetTheyTweetItToMeCauseTheyAwesomeLikeThat.” While I fully expected a Tweet back with the preferred hashtag for future reference, ~ARD surprised me with one last bit of personality that made me LOL a little:

So What’s the Point?

The point is, I went from trying to snake a coupon from Applebee’s with Twitter, to having a full-on conversation with ~ARD – a charming and helpful virtual fellow.

My experience at Applebee’s was that much better for it, so much so that I’m writing about it right now.

So what can other brands take away from this experience? I think quite a lot.

Twitter enables real-time conversations that brands can, and probably should, be using to enhance customers’ experiences.

Honestly, I think the opportunities for brands to utilize this real-time, digital conversation are endless, but let’s consider one example:

Imagine you’re shopping at your favorite shoe store and find some really kick ass Adidas shell toes but, alas, they don’t have your size. Bummer, right?!

But wouldn’t it be nice if you could take a quick pic of the kicks, Tweet it to Adidas with a designated hashtag, and get Tweeted back a link where you can buy them online in your size?

Sure, you could probably wait for a salesperson to come back, let them fumble around with the computer and order them in your size for you to come pick up later, but ain’t nobody got time for that – once again, Twitter to the rescue!

Well, that about wraps it up for my story and thoughts.

But what about you? Have you had any similar experiences where brands have used social media to enhance your experience with them? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

Written by David Boutin

David is a social media account manager and blogger for Lab3 Marketing and a HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketer.

  • Will Blunt

    David, what a great story!

    As an Aussie I’ve only heard murmurs about Applebees and Chilis – but love the sentiment.

    Such a creative way to engage on Twitter from both you and the brand.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • David Boutin

      Thanks, Will! I do love engaging with brands on Twitter, and none are better at it (that I’ve found) than Applebee’s. Do you ever engage with brands “down under” on Twitter? Had any good (or not so good) experiences?

      • Will Blunt

        I must admit, I haven’t done a whole lot of local biz Twitter engagement… Someone that nails it is the Hilton though, if you haven’t already – check out @HiltonSuggests – Genius.

        • David Boutin

          Just checked out @HiltonSuggests, very cool! I love how their Twitter cover photo shows you the people behind the initials and where they are. Great example of another brand doing social right, thanks!

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