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“Everybody’s strategy needs to be different,” says Craner, whose food fight was linked to Café Rio’s irreverent brand message, which is reinforced by employees shouting things like “extra cheese!” when patrons place an order at one of the restaurants.
Beyond matching the brand’s nuanced messaging, Café Rio’s recent Facebook apps reflect the company’s main strategic priority for marketing, namely reminding people to think of Café Rio at lunch and dinner time. Last November, Craner’s team launched an app that coordinated a contest for people to win free meals for a year. The timing of each post—Howlett suggests once a day as a good baseline—was centered around when people might be thinking about what, or where, to eat.
Above all, Craner says, the key to a solid Facebook app is to stay part of the conversation without complicating it. Nobody logs on to Facebook looking to solve a Rubik’s cube.
“Keep it simple,” he says, noting that social media is 20 percent of Café Rio’s marketing mix. “Sophisticated sharing schemes don’t work because people lose interest.”