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From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Red Robin’s Resilient Strategy

Finalist in Restaurants


Changing consumer demographics and the continuing evolution of dining trends have led to an increasingly competitive category and declining relevance of the casual dining restaurant segment. In order to entice a new, and younger, diner into Red Robin, it was necessary to deepen the emotional connection with our existing and growing audience. Specifically, we focused on driving actionable awareness of our food and fun, increasing consideration for Red Robin overall, and supporting the growth of our newly launched off-premise offerings. 

Strategy and Execution

To evolve our presence on social, we knew it was necessary to evolve our approach. We shifted from concept-driven content development to story-led content development, enabling us to share unique and channel-native executions that told bigger stories and resonated with consumer culture. We focused on fewer, but bigger, messages, allowing us to continuously optimize how we were reaching our audiences.

Specifically, we: 

- LEANED INTO CULTURAL MOMENTS AND MEMES THAT WE COULD PUT A UNIQUE RED ROBIN SPIN ON. We tuned into our core-user behaviors, in terms of their hobbies and interests, as well as meme culture. Examples include the Dolly Parton challenge, the “find someone who” meme, and the Fantasy Draft challenge. 

- INCREASED OUR USER GENERATED CONTENT. We not only reposted images of our food shared by our guests, but also screenshotted tweets from our fans and posted across other channels. This allowed for almost double the amount of content on our channels, while also putting our audience at the center of our strategy. 

-QUICKLY DEVELOPED A MORE AGILE CREATIVE PROCESS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19. Instead of formal photoshoots, we transitioned to on-the-fly content creation which allowed team members to shoot content at home (visually mirroring our popular, high-performing user-generated content). 

-SHIFTED OUR VISUAL CONTENT FOCUS. With varying and evolving regional mandates for in-restaurant dining during COVID-19, we transitioned away from showing specific locations of consumption, such as in-restaurant or at-home. We shifted our focus to the craveable consumption of our food, highlighting our ownable ingredients and fan-favorite menu items. Additionally, we launched a weekly #FeelGoodFriday roundup, highlighting stories where local restaurant teams played a role in supporting positivity and resilience in their local communities. 


Even with the struggles encountered in 2020, our strategy paid off. The numbers speak for themselves: 

Average Owned Per Post Reach Increased:  

Increase in Owned Average Per Post Reach for User-Generated Content: 

Total Owned Post Reach for 2020 was 12.7M, influencing an estimated $5.3M in sales. 

Total Followers Across Channels reached 2.4M, a 1.76% increase from 2019. 


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers