Missed Opportunities? Mandarin Chinese Buffet Promotion.
By Kim McWatt
In March 2009, the Mandarin Chinese Buffet restaurant announced their 30th anniversary promotion – Mandarin’s Passport to Japan. Running from March till November 2009, thirty lucky individuals won a trip for two to Japan. One semi-finalist from each of the Mandarin’s 21 locations was chosen. The remaining semi-finalist ballots were pooled, and the last 9 trips were given away. Winners were announced December 15th and the trips were taken in April 2010. During the fantastic nine day trip, winners visited places such as Tokyo, Mt. Fuji-Hakone, Kobe, Kyota, Osaka, and more!
Now, aside from the odd choice of Japan for the grand prize from a Chinese buffet restaurant, the Mandarin missed a huge opportunity to utilize social media to increase their profile online and in the communities where their franchise locations are located.
Here’s a few of my thoughts:
- Website: The Mandarin could have updated their 30th anniversary page to truly engage visitors with the brand and franchise. Currently, all that’s shown is a single image of the winners and a list of their names. Tremendous buzz could have been created by having winners rave about how wonderful the experience was through images and comments. Likely, such a move would have garnered a lot of interest from new and returning customers alike to watch out for the next big promotion – even if it isn’t till their 35th anniversary. Included here should also have been links to their Twitter and Facebook pages to invite further customer interaction with the grand prize winners, the brand and the company on a more personal level.
- Facebook: The Mandarin has a Facebook fan page currently with 379 fans – the first post is dated May 22, 2009. Here, they missed out on a fantastic way to involve the winners of the promotion to upload images and write wall posts about the trip itself. Just taking a closer look, Mandarin did execute on one promotion through Facebook – Canada Day – however, nothing mentioned about the Passport promotion. Unfortunately, the page hasn’t been updated since June 30, 2009. Less than two months and then nothing. Customers were commenting and interacting with each
other – there was interest from the community! What a lost opportunity to really connect with customers, gather feedback, get them involved!
- Twitter: Twitter feeds for the Mandarin started in September 2009. Looking at the Tweets, most were about promotions and events happening at the Mandarin with attempts at interacting with the customers. Unfortunately, like their Facebook page, the postings stopped shortly after starting in January2010. There could have been so much more done through Twitter to engage their customer base and use the Passport promotion to increase the number of followers of the feed. People want to hear from people, not only about one promotion after another. Certainly there were individuals on the trip who had Twitter accounts and who could have been encouraged to Tweet about their experiences. Or post links to their images or videos on their own Facebook, YouTube or Flickr accounts. All including a #MandarinBuffet reference. The Mandarin could have easily retweeted their postings for their followers by monitoring these posts. Additionally, as staff from Mandarin also accompanied the winners, they could have been provided with access to the Twitter feed to post their own experiences during the trip, their interactions with their customers, being brand ambassadors for the company
Other opportunities to get connected with customers could have been through setting up a Mandarin channel on YouTube and posting video of the trips in action. Or setting up their own Flickr account and posting the best photos.
The opportunities were endless for engaging and igniting customer interaction with the brand – and at little to no cost to the franchise owners themselves using social media tactics. Bottom line, the marketing message the Mandarin could have capitalized on was this: Mandarin treat’s its customers right.
Perhaps, on the next big anniversary, they’ll give it a try.
NOTE: A clarification on the Twitter account and Facebook pages. These are not the official accounts of the Mandarin. Given that these were created by fans of the franchise, all the more reason to develop a social media strategy to interact more closely with customers.
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