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Kona Grill builds buzz with Foursquare 'swarm' party

Kona Grill officials said they were pleased with the results of their "swarm party" for Foursquare users, despite missing the social network's goal of getting at least 50 users to check in at the same place at the same time.

While no one who attended the event Wednesday at Kona's 24 restaurants earned a swarm badge, customers and employees still had a good time, the company said.

“We reached 25 to 30 check-ins in most locations, so we did not earn the full swarm, but our guests really had fun with it as did our co-workers, ” said Cathy McPhillips, Kona Grill's media-marketing manager.

“Our teams are already engaged in social-media platforms,” she added. “and in the future we know we will be able to use events like this not only to drive sales, but also engage with our customers and our internal teams.”

Jeff Cox, general manager at a Kona Grill location in Dallas, said that the restaurant's employees were engaged in the swarm sarty as well. Click here to see video footage from the swarm party in Dallas.

“Even with our service staff, we’ve seen them generate a buzz with their own Foursquare accounts,” he said.

Kona Grill’s swarm party also included a special sushi roll, named The Stinger, which the "mayor" of each restaurant received for free. The person who checks into a given location the most is given “mayor” status, and several other restaurant companies such as Starbucks, Pinkberry and Pizza Hut have given special deals to those frequent Foursquare users.

In Louisiana, the Baton Rouge Social Media Club planned an event to take advantage of Kona Grill’s swarm party and members noted on blogs that it was a fun gathering.

McPhillips said Kona Grill would work more with such groups for future social-media-driven events.

“I’d build on our relationships started with social media clubs in all of our markets," she said. "I’d continue to use Twitter and Facebook to engage with our guests, and I’d again reach out to each mayor to thank them and ask for help with their networks of friends and colleagues.”

McPhillips said she found Foursquare an easy company with which to work.

“They respond back instantly and have been nothing but helpful and receptive to all of my crazy ideas I have been throwing their way,” she said.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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