Chili’s Grill & Bar adds a new fan to its Facebook page about every 45 seconds, so as the Brinker International brand neared the 999,999-fan mark earlier this month, it began planning a celebration of the milestone.
The one-million mark was reached a little before noon on Aug. 3, but the celebration for one of its most ardent Facebook fans occurred Aug. 12 at Brinker’s headquarters in Dallas.
Chili’s flew Pam Loland and her husband, Kevin, from their home in Jackson, Miss., to Brinker’s headquarters for a behind-the-scenes look at Chili’s and sister concept Maggiano’s Little Italy. The Brinker team applauded Loland’s enthusiasm for the brand, as demonstrated in her Facebook postings.
Chili’s also gave Loland an iPad2 and free meals for a year at the restaurant, her favorite. Her favorite location, in Madison, Miss., is more than 30 minutes from her home, but her family still visits it twice a week.
Loland said her engagement with the brand on Facebook reflects the good experiences she and her family have had at the Chili’s Mississippi restaurant.
Kelli Valade, Chili’s chief operating officer, said, “With the new online tools we have today, we can now respond to our guests quicker than ever — comments, questions — faster than we ever could before.”
Chili’s said it averages 631 daily comments on its Facebook page.
The brand also was an early adopter of the location-based social network Foursquare. A company representative said that it gets 1,850 average check-ins on Foursquare per day, and about 20 percent of those guests redeem an offer for free chips and salsa.
Not to leave other Facebook fans out of the celebration, Chili’s is offering a Facebook coupon through Aug. 17 for a free appetizer or free dessert at its page.
Chili’s has 1,534 units in 31 countries and two U.S. territories.
Watch a video of the festivities.