Yo! Sushi: Marketing with Facebook

Yesterday, Yo! Sushi launched a little campaign to get their name out on Facebook and become a lot more popular in the space of a day. Unlike traditional marketing campaigns where one pays so much for advertising and placement etc, this one was based entirely around Facebook.

Just as a background to the promotion that they were running, all you had to do was go to a Yo! Sushi, use your smartphone and check in with Facebook places (while tagging a friend), letting all of your Facebook friends know that you’re at a Yo! Sushi and making them aware of the promotion (in addition to all your friend’s friends), then show the check in confirmation to a waiter/waitress and receive your 5 free plates of sushi and a drink of your choice for you and your friend (so 10 plates and 2 drinks). The number of plates and the free drink is no small thing, and this really shows Yo!’s commitment to this campaign. They’re putting a lot of money into it and backing it in a very non-traditional way, leading me to think that this idea must be very beneficial for business and work as very effective personal advertising.

The reach of this campaign is huge, and the benefits that Yo! seek to get are twofold. Not only is there the usual ‘give someone a free plate of food and hope that they’ll order more’ approach, but there is so much more. Consider that when you check in, all of your friends know that you’re there and will be informed thus from their (or your) newsfeed. This is excellent placement. Not only have they managed to move their advertising from the right sidebar on the Facebook page (where the rest of the ads lie) to the newsfeed (where people actually read), but they’ve given it an inherent personal touch—it’s like ‘yes, there is a Yo! Sushi nearby you, and yes it is popular, 6 of your friends are there’—how much more personal and targeted can you get without being invasive. If your Facebook friends have heard of Yo! before, then great, they’ll be happy to learn that they’re giving away free sushi, but if they haven’t, then they’ll pick up on it too, for a still niche food product in the UK (compared to the market penetration in the US, that is) this is a huge boost, what have people got to lose if the food’s free, they may aswell go along and try it. There’s also a certain cool associated with campaigns like this (the kind of cool that Google once had (and is now losing) and the cool status that Facebook is attaining), a hip new (or not that new, but that’s not the point) company giving away food and marketing themselves in a novel and seemingly un-intrusive fashion. That goes down a treat.

Looking at the numbers in more detail though, you can see the kind of reach and potentially the response that such a campaign is going to generate. First off though, the expenses. The offer gives you 5 plates and a free drink, plates come in between £2.30 and £5 retail, beers are £3.55 and water is £1.05. So on average, the spend of someone claiming the free plates and drink is:

(2.30 + 5)/2 x 5 + (1.05 + 3.55)/2 = £20.55

Let’s assume that they have a profit margin of 50%—this may be completely out, but it’s a ballpark and it gives us numbers to work with. Thus the cost to Yo! is £10.28 on average per person, but the deal is per pair of people, so that takes us back to a cost of £20.55 to Yo! per check in. There are 48 participating Yo! restaurants in the UK, each allowing 1000 people to check in. So the total cost to Yo! is around:

20.55/pair x 1000/location x 48 locations = £986,400

Essentially a million pounds! Wow. Quite a spend for a supposed ‘free’ and non traditional marketing campaign. Compare this with the estimated set up cost and installation for a US franchised Yo! of $727,000 to $1,390,000 = ~£500,000 to £858,000. Again, not insignificant.

Then again though, what potential reach does a campaign like this have. Going by Facebook’s statistic that on average a user has 130 friends and that the friend that you bring along with you and tag has another 129 friends (however these may not be unique friends (i.e. not mutual), then the total audience to a given check in is anywhere between 130 and 259. Again, let’s take the average with this and assume a solid 195 friends per check in at Yo!.

The next layer up is more tricky to estimate the number however. The uncertainty here stems from the fact that each pair of people (out of the 1000 per location) who go may all be mutually exclusive and have entirely different friend sets, or they may be all a lot closer friends they think (7 degrees of separation etc.) so that the total number of people made aware of the check in on Facebook could be quite different than 1000 x 195, which would occur if no one pair knew another pair and there were zero friend overlaps. The other end of the scale is the absolute minimum amount of people that would be made aware of the check in. This would occur if everyone going there was friends with everyone else going there (this is obviously an extreme condition that would never really occur, but it’s worth bearing in mind). In this case, 1000 people would be made aware in total.

The two figures here are hugely different, and so when working out an estimated average, it is worth bearing in mind a few things. Firstly, though the offer did run (and is still running) for a week, most of the locations would have had 1000 people on the first day (as Cambridge did), and so the distribution of people being able to go and check in would be a lot more first come first served than a slow permeation through friend groups on Facebook, pointing the number more towards the larger end of the spectrum. Secondly, the method in which people found out about the promotion initially could have been very different. For example, those going on to www.yosushi.com, their Yo! Love Club email subscriber list (100,000+ (reference)) etc. and these groups of people represent a different slice of the population than perhaps Facebook friends. Furthermore assuming that most of the people who received an email about the campaign (from Yo!’s email subscriber list) went and immediately checked in at a Yo! alerting on average 195 of their friends and that each one of the subscribers was not friends with any other one of the subscribers, then this will make the figure higher. I’m also assuming that everyone went once, failure to do this would result in a smaller audience reached.

Bearing in mind these two points, I’m going to assume a number 2/3 of the way towards the maximum. So about 130,000 people per location. Again making the bold assumption that noöne from one location knows anyone from another location (this may not quite be true in London…) then there’s going to be a total of about 130,000 x 48 = 6,240,000. On average, 6.24 million people. Again, an impressive ballpark figure.

On a £ per person reached sort of scale, this works out as:

£986,400 / 6,240,000 people = £0.158 or 15.8p per person (about $0.25/person)

Pretty impressive. Then again I’m not really sure what to compare it to. Taking for example Superbowl ads, thirty seconds of advertising on TV is roughly $2.6 million. Then again there may up to 90 million viewers, giving a per person cost of $0.029, about 5.5 times smaller than Yo!. However this is only a very ballpark figure. This gentleman seems to be of the opinion that it’s going to be more of a $1 per person kind of affair when all the costs and everything are brought into account, which is fair enough and makes a good deal of sense. It also puts into perspective how good Yo!’s campaign is though, and how vastly different.

Anyway, I just wanted to draw attention to this new and fairly novel way of marketing using social network media in the hope that it will spark some debate and thought. Let me know what you think.