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Cosi leverages social sharing to promote sweepstakes, drive mobile engagement

Fast casual restaurant chain Cosi is putting mobile and social at the center of a new multichannel campaign, enabling smartphone users to share special offers with friends and simultaneously be entered for a chance to win a grand prize.

While many restaurant loyalty programs reward purchase only, Cosi is taking its program a step further by incentivizing social sharing and campaign recommendations for members. As a result, the chain hopes to drive positive recommendations and in-store traffic.

“The campaign is designed to drive social sharing, and a significant portion of users who click on shared links from friends and family are coming from a mobile device,” said Angela SanFilippo, chief marketing officer of PunchTab, Palo Alto, CA.

“Responsive design isn’t enough,” she said. “You need an experience optimized for conversion.

“We focus on making it easy for the user to quickly sign up and limit the actions to those that are mobile-friendly such as Instagram uploads or check-ins on Foursquare or Facebook. Then we message to the consumer there’s more to do from the Web version.”

Cosi is a chain of 72 company-owned and 49 franchise locations operating in 16 states offering foods built around its signature crackly crust flatbread. The company is using PunchTab’s multi-channel platform to power its Win a Lunch for Two sweepstakes.

Mobilizing sweepstakes
Cosi is running display ads for the sweepstakes online and on mobile, using Kiip.

Users can unlock one of two different offers, including $2.00 off an entrée, by entering the sweepstakes. They can also earn additional entries towards the grand prize by sharing the offer with friends, pinning some of Cosi’s most popular menu items, uploading a picture on Instagram or checking in on Foursquare.

Cosi will also be giving away five $100 gift cards and 100 $5 gift cards.

Every week users have a chance to unlock additional offers they can redeem and share with friends for more entries.

The sweepstakes runs through Sept. 2, 2013.

Building social communities
The effort is a way for Cosi to foster conversation within the social channels where it is active and to help it grow that community.

The mobile Web experience has the same initial log-in experience as on desktop. However, the actions are more specific to mobile, such as posting a photo to Instagram, tweeting an offer or checking-in, to drive engagements.

Mobile users automatically see the mobile Web experience while others are directed to the campaign’s home on Facebook.

Social media is an increasingly important way for merchants and restaurants to stay in contact with loyal customers. With mobile use of social media growing all the time, marketers’ social strategies must include a strong mobile component.

“Don’t delude yourself into believing consumers will go out of their way on a mobile device because they won’t,” Ms. SanFilippo said. “Cosi wanted to focus on the actions that drive traffic, like earning entries for only in-store actions.

“When it comes to retail, any retailer that isn’t using mobile at this point is missing a huge opportunity,” she said. “Our mobile phones are the one thing most consumers bring everywhere.

“The key to doing it well is making the experience convenient and valuable to the consumer.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York