That question is something Masullo says the brand looks at through a different lens. The reality, she says, is that TGI Fridays, which began in 1965, has plenty of fervent fans. And its reputation as a lively, bar-forward concept is something guests relate to and want to engage with.
“It’s important for us to be really consistent from a personality and conversation perspective across our social platforms, just in the same way our employees engage with our customers in the restaurant,” Masullo says. “As long as we’re consistently providing that Fridays vibe—that is what’s bringing our customers back to us and also continuing to engage with us on our platforms. We’re very responsive, but we’re responsive in a non-corporate way.”
TGI Fridays realized instantly that social media could be a powerful tool. But to keep that brand message in line, and constantly humming, the chain produces all of its digital content in-house. The result is a social media presence that lives and breathes in real time. It responds and interacts with guests. It pushes promotions, menu items, or just simply spotlights its guests.
A post in early August showed a picture of diners holding scroll-like receipts after a night of Endless Apps. Again, at $10, how did this equation calculate exactly?
It’s about fostering and fueling a network that’s far more sustainable. Doing so has also spun a rotating door of ideas that not only encourages return visits, but keeps guests plugged in at all times.
For example, during International Beer Day on August 4, TGI Fridays created a Facebook page called Beer Lovers Unite at Fridays. Its purpose was to unite fans and employees from the U.S. to the Philippines at one central hub. Bartenders and beer connoisseurs from TGI Fridays around the globe continuously posted content. Guests also used the page to chat and chime in, fueling a user-generated campaign that leveraged TGI Fridays’ expertise in the bar realm as well as its willingness to let its diners have a voice.
This joined a series of Twitter polls asking questions such as “Which describes you on #InternationalBeerDay?” Or “What do you think our recommended appetizer pairing would be alongside a crisp, cold Bud Light?”
On July 24, TGI Fridays posted 20 trivia questions for National Tequila Day.
Conversation keeps the brand top of mind.
How TGI Fridays develops these ideas is a multi-tiered process, Masullo says. Mostly, it operates and grows organically, but if “we think there’s something that has some really good legs behind a post or two, that’s certainly something we’d pull in other areas of the marketing team and see how we can build on it,” she says.
“Our social team, that’s 100 percent internal,” Masullo adds. “In terms of the transparency and visibility and real-time nature of having that team right here and responding 24 hours a day, it’s important. We can spitball new content and create the content in-house. That gives us a lot of ability to test and learn quickly, and also collaborate and make sure we’re all on the same page in terms of what’s going on in the U.S. that would be interesting from a conversation standpoint, and then certainly how can we leverage what’s going on in our brands from a new product standpoint, or just kind of new news that we want to ideate our together.”
TGI Fridays gleans knowledge from these interactions. Some promotions are built from understanding the true relationship the brand has with guests, Masullo explains.
It’s one reason why you’ve seen such seemingly radical ideas come out of their headquarters in recent months.
On Wednesday, TGI Fridays revealed its latest addition to the Burger Bar menu, a new section that debuted in February. The brand started by sharing five burger concepts on social media and asking guests to choose. The result? An overwhelming win for the Mac & Cheese Burger, complete with crispy macaroni and cheese, beer cheese sauce, and spicy mayo. Since TGI Fridays introduced the Burger Bar menu, the chain has reported a 15 percent increase in burger sales, it says. Given the anticipation surrounding the Mac & Cheese Burger—before it even hit restaurants—it wouldn't be surprising to see that sales uptick continue. And TGI Fridays got there without harnessing traditional advertising outlets. The interest was generated within its base.
The brand also announced the arrival of its new Pink Punk Mojito, a drink topped with cotton candy that melts in front of the imbiber.