Many restaurants dream of having large numbers of followers, especially quality ones on Instagram. However, the idea of winning real potential clients in a short amount of time sounds complicated… but not impossible! As a matter of fact, as long as you know your target, their behavior towards social media and their main motivation in choosing one restaurant over another, you should be able to reach your goal. Let’s take the case of one of our clients, O’Tacos Vavin. We helped them gain notoriety, acquire new consumers and build long-term relationships with them. Here is how we did it.

There is no need to explain again why Instagram is the key to gain brand notoriety and prospects. The real question is how to do it? How to gain followers that are more susceptible to be future consumers? How to generate interactions on your restaurant page? How to convert data into real clients? And last, but not least, how to develop long-term relationships with them to assure your restaurant's returns keep growing?

These many questions and the need for higher returns are the reasons why Eric Leboucher came to us to find a solution for his business, O’Tacos Vavin. Thanks to our help and a simple Instagram game, the restaurant saw its followers jump from 300 to 4000 within a week. With the majority of them being students from high schools located less than 2km away from the fast food chain, the gained followers are real potential clients of O’Tacos. And here is what we did…

The success story of O’Tacos is apparent but other franchises should not jump into it eyes closed.

It is in March 2019 that the 229th O’Tacos saw the light at Neuilly-sur-Seine. O’Tacos was originally created 10 years ago in Grenoble and the French tacos were an immediate success with impressive growing numbers. The fast food even received a “Palme de la Croissance” from the Leaders Club France to reward these stunning numbers.

Loved by the younger ones, the brand is more than doing fine on social media. O’Tacos’ parent company is even generating thousands of interactions from Instagram communities thanks to this “foodporn” picture of melty and cheesy tacos:

As you have seen, O’Tacos’ brand already has strong notoriety in France. Its strong position allows them to have significant returns. While new O’Tacos franchises keep opening, they are being placed in direct competition with each other. Within a radius of less than 2km between the 5th and the 6th district of Paris, we can already count three of them (Jussieu, Saint-Michel, and Vavin).

Their online visibility on social media varies a lot between its franchises. At the beginning of April 2019, O’Tacos Bastille had less than 200 followers on Instagram, the one from Colombes had 800 and the one from République 2000.

It was because of this growing rivalry among O’Tacos franchises that Eric, the manager of O’Tacos Vavin located in the 6th district of Paris, asked for Malou’s help.

First : O’Tacos is facing difficulties to grow on Instagram and struggling to meet its revenue goals.

At the end of 2018, the online visibility of the fast food franchise was low with only 11 posts and a few hundred followers.

However, similar restaurants boast hundreds or even thousands of followers on their own social media accounts.

O’Tacos Vavin is located in a student area (numerous high-schools and universities surround the place), some students are already customers as they see the tacos fast food on their way to school. But many of them did not know about it or even if they did, they had never actually been there before.

So we decided to come up with a way to attract with them with social media.

Our solution: create an online contest to reach customers in the nearby geographical area

1. Choosing relevant targets with high commitment to the online contest

First, we identified potential customers for our partner (social, professional categories and location). Given the type of offering, the price range and the positioning of O’Tavos, we chose to target students in the neighborhood.

We also checked the map for all high schools within 5 minutes walking distance from O’Tacos – assuming that students would not walk more than this on their lunch break.

We identified two factors that would potentially motivate students to join the contest: free tacos and the competition between institutions.

2. Shaping the contest’s rules

Next, we defined the contest’s rules to reach our goals – increase the quality of O’Tacos’ followers and create a buzz among high schools. The « Battle of High schools » is launched.

The rules are simple, students from 6 different high schools have to:

  • Follow O’Tacos Instagram account
  • Like the post dedicated to their school

The reward: a special Buy-1-Get-1-Free promotion of tacos would be offered to all the students from the winning high school.

We explained the process in a special post:

3. Launching the contest

The next day at the same time, 6 posts – one for each school (Notre-Dame de Sion High-school, Saint Sulpice High-school, Carcado Saisseval private High-school, Sainte Geneviève Institute, Montaigne High-school and Stanislas High-school) – were published on the Instagram account of our client.

During this week, students mobilized themselves and started following O’Tacos Vavin and liking the post of their respective institution. They shared the post among their classmates in the hope of winning the contest.

In one week, the reputation of the brand among these students exploded.

4. Spreading the word among chosen targets

To be sure that all students are aware of the game, we did a few important things:

  • We sponsored the “launching contest” post for only 10 euros. In order for the post to perform well, as in have a good reach, we only targeted people under 20 years old within an area of less than 2 km from O’Tacos Vavin.
  • We looked for the “Instagram Places” of high schools that we were targeting and we spotted the posts and the people that published content from these places. Here is an example with the Montaigne High school:

  • From O’Tacos’ Instagram account, we liked the latest posts published from their high schools’ location. As a result, students were surprised to see O’Tacos’ interest for their posts and visited its page to only discover the contest.

The result: from 300 to 4000 followers gained in one week and a strong link was created with thousands of potential customers.

O’Tacos Vavin gained 4000 followers after only one week of the contest. Students mobilized themselves and interactions on the fast food page boomed as statistics showed:

Students shared the contest and O’Tacos account more than 500 times in their Instagram stories in order to mobilized their classmates and get a maximum of points for their institutions. Fifty students from high schools close to O’Tacos but that were not part of the game also contacted us so that we would include them in future similar events.

What to remember from this strategic game?

  • To win a large audience of quality, it is necessary to understand who really is the target:
    • Social-professional category and demographic - for O'Tacos, students are willing to pay 5 euros for a taco to replace the school cafeteria.
    • Location - here, a very close geographical perimeter was necessary since students’ lunch break is limited in time. Furthermore, most students live near their high schools, thus near O’Tacos, meaning they can easily be regular clients during the weekends and nights.
    • Motivation to consume - the low price and the large variety of the menu
    • Motive to interact on social-media - the rivalry between high schools
  • Then, it is important to find the best way to reach them: a game, a contest, a collaboration with influencers, a special event, the launch of a new menu or even just a new meal…
  • Even the best ideas will fail if you do not know how to reach your targets. It is necessary to put in place a system that will make people aware of the game and push them to engage with it. .
  • Once the system is identified, it is important to defined key performance indicators to measure its efficiency (number of followers, views, interactions, revenue growth…)

It is easier to build a large and quality audience on your restaurant’s Instagram if you follow these steps. By repeating the process and always improving its weaknesses, you can go even further and create a real and involved community that will not only be customers but loyal ones… if the quality of the service matches of course!

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Louiza Hacene

Malou - Food Influencer Marketing

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