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Just a Little Ribbin'

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Blame it on the cold weather, but online conversations about barbecue in Denver are scarce right now. To heat it up, we're going where we know people who love barbecue are already gathered - to the Facebook pages of competing restaurants in town.

We created the concept of "Little Ribbin," commenting on these pages in a good-natured, competitive way and enticing these restaurants, along with their fans, into a "Baby Back Throwdown." Barbecuing is a competitive sport, after all.

With our comments, we invite people to come to Big Papa's and say the code words "Baby Back Throwdown" to receive a free rib sampler to try. We want to prove we're the best "Q" in town. They also receive a coupon to entice them to stay for a full meal.

Half of our competitors are removing the posts and are not taking the opportunity to create conversation with us. We think it's a missed opportunity for everyone to raise the visibility of barbecue in town. Others have sent complaints. Again, they're missing the point about striking up some good-natured BBQ chatter.

We're also using our other social channel, Twitter, to drive our followers to the competitors' Facebook pages to "rib" their fans by adding comments of their own to our posts that proclaim their love of Big Papa's BBQ.

The concept has worked well. Everyone who visits these competing pages is seeing our posts. In addition, they're predisposed to being barbecue lovers, a tough audience to find online. This type of laser-focused promotion would be difficult to replicate using mass media.

In just two weeks, we've had 50 people come in for the Baby Back Throwdown. That's 50 new customers who were enticed to leave their computer and the comfort of their home to take us up on our offer. We consider it a success.

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