Applebee’s, a casual dining chain with more than 1,800 locations nationwide, leveraged the strong consumer relationships they built via social media engagement in order to craft the “Best Video Ever Created By Fans". This video was completely driven by social media from the very beginning. In fact, Applebee’s even asked Champion Flair Bartender, Christian Delpech, to become a part of this initiative via Twitter. The brand invited fans to suggest tricks for Delpech to perform and committed to giving fans what they wanted. The video would be completely directed by this online movement – no promotional angle at all. Requests included everything from a group of Bronies asking for Delpech to include My Little Ponies in a trick to folks asking for the Elf On A Shelf to make an appearance. The first video was a huge success and the requests kept coming, so Applebee’s decided to up the ante for the second round by including some elements of danger (think multiple knives) while LIVE STREAMING the video shoot. Applebee’s, a huge corporation, showed that they are so committed to fans that they will literally risk the possibility of bloodshed to connect with their fans on a genuine level. Applebee’s took some big risks with this video, not only by incorporating a live streaming element, but also by engaging some extremely niche online communities where large brands are generally FAR from welcome. However, in order to show that Applebee’s is the biggest fan of its fans, they took the risk and it certainly paid off. This was the most-viewed YouTube video that Applebee’s has ever produced. Social media shares were over 2,000 in the first few hours alone. Between December 19, 2013 and January 9, 2014 the video received more than 190,000 views. That’s over 1,150 hours watched!! Most importantly, Applebee’s demonstrated that true engagement requires moving beyond typical marketing. They created an ongoing dialogue and gave their fans not only a voice, but also the power to be co-creators of content on one of the biggest stages on the Internet.
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