In 1981, the first LongHorn Steakhouse opened its doors in Atlanta thanks to one man's commitment to grilling the perfect steak. His passion for food and grilling expertise led to phenomenal growth, and LongHorn Steakhouse now serves guests at nearly 500 restaurants across the U.S. The restaurant prides itself on its grilling know-how and seeks to share tips and tricks with fans whenever possible.
Summer 2016 marked the fourth year of LongHorn's Summer Grilling campaign - an integrated campaign built to deepen LongHorn's ownership of grilling expertise during the summer months. Throughout the 3-month campaign, we provided expert tips, tricks, and recipes to our social fans, but we needed to engage with fans directly and in a new way for the largest grilling holiday of the year - the Fourth of July. Our objectives for this event included building and strengthening relationships with LongHorn fans and generating authentic engagement through unique and exclusive social content. Dating back to its humble roots of setting out to grill the perfect steak, we wanted to humanize the brand by unprecedented access to the LongHorn Executive Chef team, and expanding the campaign's reach beyond LongHorn's existing fanbase.
Social listening confirmed what our team already suspected: a legendary barbecue requires a lot of planning and preparation. We'd uncovered a perfect opportunity for the LongHorn Grill Masters to step in and personally help out.
In the past, LongHorn social fans had opportunities to interact with the executive chefs via question-and-answer Twitter chat events. But this time, we chose to leverage Facebook Live to host a Grill Masters Live event to better connect with LongHorn's largest, most loyal community on Facebook and pursue the greatest potential for new reach.
Facebook Live allowed us to shape a narrative that was exclusive, informational and entertaining. The Grill Masters Live event was an opportunity to take guests inside the LongHorn test kitchen, show them where innovation happens and demonstrate three popular dishes from start to finish. Prompted by a host, the chefs shared tips for hosting a great holiday barbecue (or just grilling a great steak). LongHorn employed Facebook Live's real-time engagement functionality to answer questions from live viewers. Our team understood that those viewers had other highly-produced entertainment options, such as television cooking shows, sporting events and reality TV. So, to produce a stream comparable to cable cooking segments, we used Wirecast software to incorporate two-camera footage and graphics.
The production quality helped position LongHorn at the forefront of the social streaming movement as Wirecast's Facebook Live compatibility was released just two months before the broadcast.
However, a good story told well isn't worth much if it's not seen. With that in mind, the team created a social promotion plan for the live event highlighting the promise of expert advice and prize pack giveaways for viewers, as well as a paid plan to promote the resulting video asset. To retain viewers, we reserved answering questions and giveaways for the end of the show, but teased these items throughout the event.
With the LongHorn Steakhouse Grill Masters Live event, we set out to build relationships and generate authentic engagement with fans (through video views, replying to comments, and providing grilling expertise), humanize the brand, and expand reach beyond existing LongHorn fans, and we succeeded! Some key success metrics include:
We achieved our objectives by creating a unique, captivating, well-produced event that added value to viewers in a meaningful and innovative way.