“We’re pretty small and nimble. Up until [four] weeks ago, I was a one-man show for our digital marketing efforts,” said Natalie Bass, Houlihan’s digital marketing manager. Last month, it brought in a contract worker to assist.
With 100 restaurants, Houlihan’s competes with the likes of Applebee’s, which has more than 2,000 restaurants, and T.G.I. Friday’s, which has more than 900 restaurants – and presumably bigger marketing budgets.
Developing a digital marketing strategy at Houlihan’s has meant making tough choices. Houlihan’s did not plunge into developing a branded Facebook page or Twitter account – it just launched @houlihans and plans to roll out a national Houlihan’s page on Facebook in the coming week. The company’s initial social efforts centered on an invite-only online community, called HQ, established in January 2008. And a year later, Houlihan’s expanded into mobile promotions with its Foody Call Club.