You may or may not know that I work at a Dairy Queen in Buffalo, Mo. I only work at the store one or two days a week, but I’ve been there for nearly four years. I’ve learned a lot from my job – how to manage employees, customer service, communication skills and how to make the best Blizzard you’ve ever tasted. However, I’ve also had the chance to learn about how to effectively administrate a small business Facebook page thanks to my wonderful bosses. They knew I was studying Public Relations at Missouri State University so when I asked if I could help with the social media they pretty much let me have free-rein. This hands-on experience has taught me a lot about Facebook and social media marketing on a small business level, so you will probably see more posts about it in the future. This post will be focused on developing and executing a Facebook contest.
I’m proud to say as of the time I posted this blog Buffalo Dairy Queen is only 9 likes away from 2,000. I think that is pretty good for a town of 2,700. Now, before you comment on how it is the quality of likes (or fans) your page have, not the quantity, I have to tell you that I agree 100 percent. But I think it is important to point out that in the small town of Buffalo, the Dairy Queen is the spot to go on your first date, to hang out after a football game or meet family on graduation night. The owners, Steve and Shelly, have kids in the Buffalo school system and are actively involved in the community. Everyone knows them, and everyone knows they own Dairy Queen. I remember in high school, you’d use DQ cups donated by Steve and Shelly to get water in. It’s a pretty big deal for a town with only three stoplights. So, if you’ve lived in Buffalo or know someone from Buffalo or you even drive through Buffalo there is a great chance that you’ve gone to the DQ. People have memories attached to the store (you should have heard the outrage when we remodeled and took away the playground). Liking the Buffalo DQ page on Facebook is a way for people to stay connected to those memories. So, our fans are not just current customers, but they are also life-long customers, supporters and friends.
We are always brainstorming ways to make the Buffalo DQ Facebook page a fun and interesting way to engage customers. When the Chicken Strip Basket (everyone’s favorite DQ product besides Blizzards) went on sale, the owners wanted to do something with Facebook that would generate some buzz. It’s autumn, and the colder it gets the slower business is for a store that is primarily known for ice cream. Thus, Cluck-A-Palooza was born.
I decided to hold a one-night event where customers could stop by and give us their best chicken impression. We’d record submissions at Dairy Queen and then post them to the Facebook page. Fans could then like the videos. The video with the most likes wins. The prize? A free Chicken Strip Basket a week for a whole year. I’m going to walk you through why we did things the way we did and what I’ve learned.
We had several fans, but our page was getting stagnant. We do Facebook specials every Friday, and people usually get them, but they weren’t engaging on Facebook. We wanted to reestablish our Facebook as not only a place to find good deals, but entertainment and an way to engage with us as well.
Technology learning curve
I knew when I began to develop the plan for Cluck-A-Palooza that it would take a lot of work on my part. I could have just said “Upload your chicken impressions to Facebook” but I know that we would have had maybe three or four submissions at the very most. Not everyone who would want to participate would have the equipment to record a video and if they did, they may not know how to get it from their device and onto our page. So, since I was the one to record all of the submissions, I could make sure there were no errors or technical difficulties. Basically, I made it easier for our customers to get involved. The fact that we were able to engage with them face-to-face and on Facebook was an added bonus.
Wednesday night church rush
If you work at DQ, you know all about the Wednesday night church rush. After Wed. night church services at a local church, we always get a huge rush. The dining room is full and people are lined up to the door. This church rush also happens to be from the church that Steve and Shelly attend. So, these are friends of the owners. This makes them much more likely to participate in something like this. We strategically picked Cluck-A-Palooza to take place on a Wed. night when we knew we would be busy of people who are already active on our Facebook page. These are people who know the employees at Buffalo DQ by name. Many of them worked at the store when they were in high school.
We created a Facebook event for Cluck-A-Palooza (see it here). Only 18 people (including myself, the owner and my dad) said they were attending the event. We had a lot more people that that show up that night, but having an event page gave me a place where I could direct people for more information and link to in posts.
However, perhaps the best buzz was created by a good friend of Steve and Shelly who does a hilarious chicken impression (I had seen it and she was actually the inspiration for the event). Katie and her husband own an insurance office in Buffalo and are also very well known. I posted a video of Katie doing her chicken impression from a few months ago with posts about the event. People loved it. I think seeing someone else doing it really encouraged participation.
We also hung flyers up in the store. I created a QR code for the flyer that linked to the Facebook event page. It only had four scans according to bit.ly (I think two were from my dad) but it was a good first attempt at using a QR code on some of our materials.
Steve is actually quite artistic and created a fun backdrop for our participants which helped draw attention that night. We gave out free Blizzard coupons for those who participated, but we didn’t publicize that until the night of. We wanted people to participate because they wanted to engage on the Facebook page. The Blizzard coupon was just a way to say thank you.
We are also letting voting go on for a week. This way, fans will continually be engaged with the page. We hope they keep checking back to see how their favorite videos are ranking.
My goal was to get 20 videos and we got 22. However, it has really taken over on Facebook. Participants are linking to our page and harassing their friends to go vote for their video. People are commenting on videos and having a lot of fun with it. That was my main goal – to entertain people while still creating buzz about the Chicken Strip Basket.
I constantly check the page. Since these are videos that feature our customers, I want to be sure that there are no inappropriate comments on any of them. It is also a lot of fun to watch the insights as the week goes on. I do occasionally remind our fans to like their favorite videos, but I don’t want to post too much and knock the videos down lower on the page.
What I’ve learned
No matter what anyone says, social media is not free. And if it is, you aren’t doing it correctly. I have spent about 10 hours on this event. But, it is worth it. We have customers talking to us about it when they come into the store. People are once again engaged with the page. They will continue to look out for our next fun contest that they can participate in. I’ve learned that I can push and push a Facebook page to try to get likes. However, the best likes come when our fans are recruiting new fans.
Here’s one of my favorite submissions from my co-worker Sean.
Hopefully you will have a chance to check out the Buffalo DQ Facebook page. I encourage you to like it and vote for your favorite clucker! Do you have any advice on how to facilitate a Facebook contest?