Hard Rock's Battle of the Bands draws more and more fans to its Facebook pages.

Facebook Rocks Sales

Hard Rock International is using Facebook to drive sales in its brick and mortar restaurants, as well as to increase loyalty.

For the second year, the chain is running Hard Rock Rising, a battle of the bands competition.

Thisannual global battle of the bands started last month with 12,000 bands competing on a local level. An intermediary level will follow this and the ultimate winner will score a spot on the bill with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at the Hard Rock Calling Festival in London, England, in July.

The campaign started last month when Hard Rock sent Facebook alerts to let its fans know about the contest and have them sign up via the social media site.

Once bands were signed up, by the middle of January, any of Hard Rock’s fans could go to his or her local page and listen to the bands’ songs. Voters could listen to a snippet of the song and download the entire song if they liked it. Downloading a song counted as a vote for a band.

The bands with the most votes will be invited to perform in their local Hard Rock Café between February 13 and April 1, “so we’re taking what’s online and taking it to the stores,” says Kim Matlock, senior director of digital marketing and customer relationship management for Hard Rock International.

Once winners have been chosen from each city, those 86 winners (from Hard Rock cities around the world) will be announced on Facebook and will then compete for the grand prize.

The idea is to drive traffic both to local Facebook pages, says Matlock, and to the stores, to boost sales there.

A program like this is a great example of a promotion that will drive exposure and perhaps more interest in the local Hard Rock stores, says Dave Gonynor, CEO of That’s Biz, a restaurant marketing company based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

“The reason why is because they are featuring local bands—and many of them—on every page. The tab application (to select a band) is well done because there is a ‘share’ button next to each band selection. That allows a friend or fan to share the band they voted for with their friends. Sharing drives more people back to the page, which, as you can see, gives the promotion viral potential.”

Gonynor continues: “It’s a great promotion because every local band has an incentive to tell all of their friends and friends of friends to go to the Hard Rock page and vote for them. That drives visits to the local pages, perhaps more ‘likes’ and, most importantly, a visit to the restaurant for food and drinks.”

And that was exactly what Hard Rock was banking on. “This [program] brings loyalty,” Matlock says, “because fans are rooting for a hometown team.”

Hard Rock Café ran this event last year “but not to this degree,” she says. “And we didn’t leverage Facebook the way we’re doing this year. Last year was just about posting about it and general content to let people know something was going on. Now, it’s taken over our pages. This year the fans are actively involved.”

By using Facebook, there’s a clear tracking of engagement and a clear tracking of the ROI of this campaign “through Facebook's API analytics,” Matlock says, adding that “the ROI will come during the Live Battle stage of the campaign since it takes place in each cafe. We can measure additional food and beverage sales.”

Events like this do increase customer engagement on the social media website, Matlock says, and since last year’s event, Hard Rock’s Facebook fanbase has grown by more than 200 percent. Overall, the Hard Rock Facebook pages boast around four million fans.

“This campaign has been immediately effective in driving new fans to our Hard Rock pages,” Matlock says. “We have grown new fans by 17 percent since the campaign started.”

By Amanda Baltazar

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.