Gini Dietrich

Einstein Bagels and their Facebook Campaign

By: Gini Dietrich | August 17, 2010 | 

This was first published in the August issue of Franchise Times.

As a consumer, I am a big fan of Einstein Bagels (give me a honey-whole-wheat with honey almond any day), so it makes sense that I would “like” them on Facebook.

Even though I am a fan and although I see them in my stream, I didn’t really pay attention (not even for the free bagel days) until I saw they were having trouble with their giveaways. And then I paid attention because, as a communication professional, I watch pretty closely on how companies handle crisis.

It seemed innocent enough–the digital coupon they had on their Facebook wall wasn’t working. So they posted that something was wrong, they were working to fix it, and they’d let everyone know when the coupons were ready. And then a day went by and they still were having issues. It was a few days before they worked out the kinks, but what I liked about how they handled the situation is they constantly talked to their fans about what was going on and what they were doing to fix it. They were honest in saying they didn’t know how long it would take, but thanked everyone for their patience. And it worked. No one got mad. No one got on their high horse. No one bashed them in the media. They communicated, they fixed the issue, and fans had their coupons.

Impressed by how they communicated to their fans, how they apologized for the coupons not working, and how they fixed the issue, I wanted to talk to them about how Facebook has helped them grow their online presence.

I caught up with James O’Reilly, the chief concept officer at Einstein Noah Restaurant Group to discuss just that, their return-on-investment, and to find out what’s next.

Q. You wanted to grow your Facebook presence and to do that, you gave away coupons for free bagels. Do you feel this is the only way to build a following quickly?

A. There are many ways to grow a strong following on Facebook. As a smaller advertiser in the restaurant space, we intended to execute an idea with consumer breakthrough. In addition, we wanted to give as many consumers as possible a chance to try our freshly baked bagels because we know that their freshness, quality and taste will win consumers over every time. We succeeded on both fronts and we now have a valuable fan base on Facebook that we are engaging on a regular basis.

Q. It’s clear you had success with the free bagel giveaway. People had to download coupons from Facebook and bring them into the store. How many were new versus returning consumers?

A. The Facebook initiative drove visits among new consumers and also frequency among existing consumers.

Q. With the huge jump in your online fan base (Einstein went from 4,700 to 613,703 Facebook fans), what have you learned and have you made any changes based on the new direct connection you have with your audience?

A. Our fans on Facebook are a smart and vocal group of consumers. We are learning a lot from them and engaging with them in a variety of ways. Our approaches range from asking questions on flavors and new products, providing ongoing value via digital coupons, and providing direct responses on issues such as ingredients and customer service. Facebook is a marketing medium in itself but not a traditional medium like television or radio. It is a truly dynamic two-way medium and offers marketers brand-building opportunities like never before.

Q. What kind of return-on-investment have you had through your Facebook campaign?

A. I can’t get into specific details but I can tell you that we are pleased with the ROI on our Facebook investment.

Q. What’s next?

A. We are nowhere near declaring victory with our Facebook initiatives; in fact I believe we are at the very beginning of tapping into this medium and developing a substantive two-way dialogue with a very large group of savvy consumers. We plan to continue building our presence in social media with a focus on Facebook and have a number of exciting new initiatives in the works.

What can you take away from this campaign to see success in your own initiatives?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • While I really liked this post, the executives answers are more of the same sort of guarded & closed sound bites we have heard for way too long.

    He was asked “How many were new versus returning consumers?” …. ewww, real proprietary stuff there, good thing the Einstein Bagels exec (are you listening, suit?) didn’t lay it out there for us.

    I would hope the lessons learned through such an explosive growth would include learning that knowledge shared brings serious credibility & trust. Obviously, no one expects the bagel recipe to be posted online in an interview, but allowing fans (even on a remote blog like this one) to fully celebrate the marketing success along with the corp will add to the echoes/ripples and possibly even create a meme.

    • Gini Dietrich

      Red, I tried and tried to get anything. I would have been happy with, “Our same store sales increased and still continue ton rise.” Anything. But you’re right – it’s still much too corporate.

  • i enjoy hearing the stories of “smaller” business and how they were able to implement a successful social campaign. there are plenty of stories of big brand names, but not enough of “smaller” businesses making their mark.

    thanks for the writeup gini

    • You’re welcome, Paul! I’m trying to find more like this…and some B2B businesses, too. Stay tuned!

  • Good to see they had success in their promotion. There are lots of ways they could do this, they could have daily web based coupon codes on their website, they could do a mobile app that has new codes or promotions daily. There are so many ways out there to communicate that may have better ways of tracking your success as well as gaining valuable statistics, such as new customers vs. old.

    • Totally agree Jennifer (I want to call you Sydcon :))!! I’d love to see them track same-store sales increases during the promotion as compared to before and after…they may have but considered that proprietary information and wouldn’t tell me. They also could use QR codes to keep everything mobile and track more easily.

  • Wow 4700 to 613,703! That is some jump. Someone must be doing something right to get that kind of response.

    • Amazing what happens when you give away free food, huh??

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  • I will always give a nice thrust look in to you from my bookmark feed. Coffee I don’t actually comment and don’t like to spend time in typing the comment. But here I have to do this because this deserves a good like.

  • I will always give a nice thrust look in to you from my bookmark feed. Coffee I don’t actually comment and don’t like to spend time in typing the comment. But here I have to do this because this deserves a good like.

  • I will always give a nice thrust look in to you from my bookmark feed. Coffee I don’t actually comment and don’t like to spend time in typing the comment. But here I have to do this because this deserves a good like.

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