When Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar launched their Catering offering nationwide, in November 2018, Current was called upon to spread the word among consumers and target audiences, specifically Applebee's Routine Traditionalists and Value Seekers, to drive awareness and trial.
Understanding that the holidays are cluttered from a marketing perspective, and restaurants are busy with guests, Current developed a strategy to ignite conversation via earned media outreach and through social sharing, with a specific focus on people planning family gatherings or parties around the holidays. .
We enlisted a group of target right social media influencers to create blog and social content relevant to holiday party planning with Applebee's Catering front and center. When enlisting influencers, we vetted each partner based on a custom set of criteria including overall reach, organic engagement rates on social platforms, content and audience demographics to ensure their audience lined up with Applebee's customer target, and that the majority of their audiences resided in target markets where Applebee's Catering is available.
Upon securing partners, we tasked them to create engaging and shareable digital content under the theme of Holiday Party Planning to share news that Applebee's Catering is available just in time for holiday parties and family gatherings throughout the season. We invited each influencer to try Applebee's Catering in order to provide their review of the service in their content. They were also tasked to produce a blog post and related social shares across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest in order to blanket all social platforms with the news that Applebee's Catering is now available.
We partnered with seven influencers in key markets across the country who produced 30 blog and social media placements spotlighting reviews of Applebee's Catering and the news of its launch. This content garnered 3.8 million total impressions with a 1.08 percent organic engagement rate and $1.73 CPM.
Prior to launching our influencer program, Applebee's Catering saw weekly averages of 528 restaurants posting sales of $78,000. However, the week following the launch of our program and influencer content going live, the brand saw its highest Catering sales since its introduction with 750 total restaurants posting sales (a 42 percent increase) of more than $108,000 (a nearly 39 percent increase).