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5 Ways Applebee’s Grew Its Buzz Factor

Family-restaurant chain Applebee’s topped a recent BrandWeek survey of eateries that have improved their positive buzz the most. This puts the chain in a great position because, well, their buzz score was way higher than the rest of the list to begin with. TGI Friday’s, the next-highest ranked chain for buzz improvement, has just over half Applebee’s buzz rating.

How does the DineEquity (DIN) division keep the positive word flowing and sales growing? Here are five ways:

Make it fun. Applebee’s has put on a string of kooky events such as ’80s nights and blacklit evenings on nights when the moon is full. Talk about instant entertainment for the kids. Where ya gonna go when you can get that at Applebee’s, Denny’s (DENN) or Red Robin (RRGB)?

Keep it local. This chain has really taken to Facebook, with fan pages for individual stores. Don’t know when every retailer and restaurant is going to catch on to the power of this, but check out the thrill factor of seeing yourself on the fan page of your local Applebee’s. From there, the restaurant just promotes itself as diners share pictures on their own Facebook walls.

Build the community. The chain scored in September with affordable, all-you-can-eat “back to school” events that brought kids and families from local schools together to dine out at their local Applebee’s. See #1 for how the kids felt about getting to eat out with all their friends — like a McTakeover at McDonald’s (MCD), except the families don’t have to work behind the counter, and the food’s way better. What a great way to help families form a habit of heading to Applebee’s for dinner as they get into the school-year groove.

Make it patriotic. The chain has held “Thank a Soldier” days, and coming up, Applebee’s plans to serve free entrees to military members on Veteran’s day.

Keep the booze flowing. Two-for-one margaritas, all the time. Need I say more?

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