Papa John’s Connecting with 200,000 Fans on Facebook

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papajohnsMore brands are engaging with Facebook’s 150 million users through Facebook advertising solutions and the Facebook Platform, patterns of best practices are emerging for brands in different verticals.  Last week, Inside Facebook spoke with Dave Eisenberg, VP of Marketing at Bonobos, about the ways the specialty pants retailer is reaching new customers on Facebook.

Today, we turn our attention to the restaurant industry and Papa John’s Pizza. Inside Facebook recently sat down with Bob Ford, Papa John’s Director of Online Marketing, about the ways the pizza restaurant chain is reaching customers on Facebook.

Thanks for your time Bob. Why did Papa John’s decide to get involved on Facebook?

We’ve obviously been tracking social networks for a number of years now, but we’ve been looking for opportunity that is right for our brand, and Facebook’s engagement ads made sense to me and to Papa John’s. Facebook has actually initially reached out to us three years ago, but this is the first one we felt like we were ready to try.

Before we built our Facebook Page, there were other Papa John’s Facebook Pages out there.  They had a limited number of fans, but when you looked and saw something that was put up by someone who was literally just a fan, it became intriguing to us. So we dedicated the time to put together our Facebook Page, working closely with Facebook to design it in a way that the audience is looking for.

Who was your campaign targeted at and how did it work?

Facebook is very different today in terms of who their audience is even compared to just a couple years ago. We were really looking for a way to feature some of our new features like mobile ordering, and the 15-24 audience is a great fit for that.

We did two projects with Facebook.  First, in November of last year, we did our engagement ad where we drove people to become a fan of our Facebook Page. Fans were notified on three different dates via an Update from the Papa John’s Page, and were then directed to the Papa John’s site to receive their promotional code for the pizza.

We added 125,000 fans within a day, that number has grown to over 200,000 today.  We’re very pleased with how many fans we’ve gained, and we’re examining ways we can promote it more. We look at our Facebook page almost as an extension of our website, and we have more campaigns coming up soon in the next 6 moths.


We also gave away some virtual pizzas. Using Facebook Gifts, we gave away as many virtual pizzas as we could. We funded and gave away a couple hundred thousand pizzas.  You may think, “What’s the value in a virtual pizza?” We looked at it almost like we do our widgets – they’re a constant reminder that sits on someone’s profile page.

The person sent their friend a gift that was a Papa John’s ad that the friend was happy to get. It’s not often that you find an advertising vehicle that people are happy to get. From the feedback we’ve seen it seemed to be very well received.

How did the ROI on these campaigns compare to your expectations?

We set out  targets for both promotions, and they came back dead on. In fact, we got a much better ROI than we expected from the number of impressions we ended up receiving from our virtual gifts – Facebook did a great job projecting that.

In terms of the number of fans we added to the Papa John’s, it is probably double what we projected. What we were truly hoping for was to sign up 100,000 fans. I would have been okay if we had signed up 50,000. The fact that we’re at 200,000 is fantastic.

Why do you think your Page has been successful?

Facebook has been really good about providing guidance on what their users expect to see on Pages, and how to keep them active. What we need to do is make sure that we keep that page fresh so that people keep coming back, and so that when we send an update people will see it and find it valuable.

Thanks Bob. Do you have any final thoughts for other brand marketers out there?

Industry by indusry we have to be willing to put ourselves out there, knowing that not everything we do will be perfect.  We know we will take some hits from our customers, but we as a brand need to embrace that. We need to monitor it and react to it. We have worked to resolve issues with people who have had any issues – for example, I have sent personal messages to people that have had issues, and the responses I’ve gotten have been fantastic. Even if someone makes a negative post the first time, they often go back and make an unbelievably positive comments.