Facebook Response Catches Baja Fresh Off Guard

Facebook Response Catches Baja Fresh Off Guard
Karlene Lukovitz, Aug 06, 2009 10:29 AM
Baja Fresh/Facebook The good news: A coupon promotion offering a free burrito with the purchase of a regular-size drink on July 22 generated more than 50,000 takers and a 75% lift in traffic for Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, according to the quick-casual chain.

The hitch: The chain had expected to redeem coupons only from fans signed up on its official Facebook page, who stood at 1,800 at the time of the offer.

While fulfilling on 50,000 seems a valiant performance given the expectation gap, would-be redeemers beyond that crowd were out of luck when some Baja Fresh locations were unable or unwilling to meet the demand.

Part of the demand resulted simply because the offer caused a surge of fan sign-ups: Fans shot from 1,800 to more than 3,000 in less than 24 hours, according to the chain’s postings on its Facebook page. In addition, as consumer postings on the page make clear, users quickly discovered that they could print out the identical coupon even if they did not sign on as fans.

Baja Fresh — certainly not the first chain to suffer a redemption glitch after making a giveaway offer via social media (think Quiznos, for starters) — used ongoing Facebook postings during the day of the promotion to explain and apologize for instances of non-redemption.

Afterwards, the chain did not make a makegood offer to disappointed consumers, but did let Facebook users know that 50,000 coupons had been redeemed, and also posted this message: “We would like to apologize to those who were unable to participate in this promotion. We realize that we underestimated the kind of response we would receive for the Free Burrito Coupon. We have learned a lot and are excited to apply the lessons to future promotions. We invite all of you to join our Facebook fan page and follow @boldbajafresh on Twitter so that we can continue to reward our loyal fans and customers.”

User postings about the glitch on the brand’s Facebook page were generally quite positive, with some even telling complainers to chill out. (Sample: “People are overreacting. Promotions are bound to have glitches…) Furthermore, as of Thursday, the chain’s Facebook fans stood at more than 5,100.

Baja Fresh also sent out a post-promotion press release emphasizing the huge response but acknowledging that it had learned some lessons about social media the hard way.

Company president Charles Rink characterized the promotion as a success overall, adding: “Through this promotion, we have learned about the power of a relatively new social media and the important role it will continue to play in marketing Baja Fresh. We now have a strong foundation of followers on both Twitter and Facebook and look forward to the continuous growth of our online community.”

Source: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=111203