Social Reform

mellow mushroom

The Melting Pot and Mellow Mushroom leverage virtual tools to build real relationships.

Social media contests may be all fun and games for consumers, but they have proved to be serious business strategies for The Melting Pot and Mellow Mushroom.

When fondue favorite The Melting Pot changed the pricing structure on its menu after more than three decades, it was a big deal that called for a big promotion. But without a big advertising budget, the company had to get creative to build excitement and incent engagement with the new menu. Its secret sauce turned out to be social media.

Mad for Fondue Fun

Last summer, The Melting Pot latched onto a “Mad Libs” theme and launched a Web-based contest offering $20 gift cards to 500 consumers who played a fill-in-the-blank game called “The Chronicles of the Fondue Adventurer.” Consumers shared their entries on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and the game also included a tab where visitors could easily make a reservation at their local Melting Pot.

During the five-week sweepstakes period, the game generated hundreds of shares on social media, says Sandy D’Elosua, national director of marketing and communications for Front Burner Brands, the Tampa, Florida–based management company for The Melting Pot.

“We far exceeded our goal of 50,000 entries,” D’Elosua notes. “We also got over 1,000 reservations through the sweepstakes website and signed up nearly 16,000 new members for our Club Fondue email database, all without spending any money to promote the sweepstakes.”

Club Fondue currently has over 2 million members in its database, and franchisees are encouraged to use these contacts for local promotions, while the corporate office does system-wide email blasts once or twice a year.

Earlier last year, The Melting Pot also ran campaigns specifically on Pinterest and Instagram. The Pinterest campaign generated more than 5,800 pins and the Instagram campaign yielded 850 photos.

Campaigns generally run two to five weeks, because as D’Elosua explains: “They need some time to seed and pick up steam.”

The Melting Pot has been steadily building its social marketing presence since 2009, when it started with just 4,000 Facebook fans and absolutely no presence on Twitter. Now, Facebook followers number around 700,000, including corporate and franchisee Facebook page followers, and the chain’s Twitter feed touts some 40,000 followers.

At first, the foray into social media was a defensive strategy, designed to seek out and recover guests who posted about unsatisfactory experiences. But today, the brand uses social media for one-to-one engagement of current and prospective customers.


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