Company: Mio Gelato
Social Media Marketing Team: Lisa Peyton/Ryan Lewis
Campaign Length: 3 months
Result: Up to a 44% increase in sales at various locations
SoMe Award ‘Peoples Choice’ Winner 2010

The Challenge

Mio Gelato is a locally-owned cafe with 4 locations around the Portland metro area. Best known for it’s frozen gelato, Mio’s owner wanted to combat slower sales during the winter months. He hoped to utilize the power of social media along with great promotions to keep patrons coming back; not just for gelato, but for soups, Italian hot cocoa and/or a quick lunch.

Mio owner Bob Lightman says “My business is very seasonal. It’s not hard to sell great gelato during June and July, but January is another issue entirely. I’m counting on social media to help lagging sales during these off months and to carry me through to my busy season.”

Mio Gelato already had a Facebook Fan page, blog and Twitter account so the question was how to utilize these platforms to increase brand awareness and ignite sales during the off-season.

Agreed upon success metrics for the 3 month campaign included:

10% Increase in overall sales

100% increase in Facebook Fans

100% increase in Facebook interactions

20% increase in Twitter Followers

20% increase in overall web traffic

We felt these were ambitious yet realistic goals and set-up a strategy for success.

The solution

We realized that simply promoting Mio Gelato’s existing products on social media platforms wasn’t going to get the results Bob was looking for. Bonfire’s team worked with the Mio Gelato marketing crew to develop monthly promotions that would reinforce the brand, motivate brand enthusiasts to speak out and most importantly, provide FUN!

Free Fan Friday

We knew we wanted to engage and reward our fans and followers so we started a program called Free Fan Friday. Every Friday, we select a fan to win a coupon for a free scoop of gelato or a free 120z. coffee drink.

The rules are updated monthly to include the latest platforms like Foursquare and to keep our regular participants coming back for more. We initially made it all about Italian trivia. We offered a free scoop to any fan who came up with a good, Italian-themed trivia question and then randomly selected a second winner from all the correct responses. After a few weeks, we realized this tactic really wasn’t getting the results we had hoped for. We had a difficult time soliciting any questions and only a few of our fans bothered to respond.

The following month, we tried something a bit different, resulting in the dramatic response we were looking for. Enter Flavor of the Week!

Facebook = Flavor of the Week

We made the Free Fan Friday promotion all about the gelato. We knew that Portlanders loved Mio’s gelato and this one factor is the common denominator for all our fans and followers. So to keep it fun and ‘flavorful,’ we posted a weekly clue that described one of Mio’s signature gelato flavors. The winner was randomly selected from all fans posting the correct answer. Facebook interactions skyrocketed and now customers were visiting Mio to try the featured flavor as well as to study up on next week’s pick.

Mayors, Mentions and Motivation

The recent popularity of applications like Foursquare and Gowalla have created unique opportunities for local business owners to reach out to some of their most loyal and vocal customers.

We set up a special reward for each Mio Gelato Foursquare mayor, treating them to a free gelato or coffee drink every week! This was just the incentive needed to get Twitter buzzing about who was battling over our mayor-ships. Brand mentions increased as many followers spread the word and shared their Foursquare check-ins at all of our locations.

FANtastic ROI!

Along with our popular Free Fan Friday promotion, we were able to significantly extend campaign reach by implementing a simple Facebook ad.

The cost-per-click (CPC) ad garnered hundreds of thousands of impressions targeted directly at local Portland residents who expressed an interest in local food and restaurants. With a small monthly budget of just $50, we were able to increase fans at the extremely low cost of about $.60 per fan!

With CPCs on Google AdWords steadily rising and a typical cost per conversion or cost per action anywhere from $10 – $250, our Facebook campaign was extremely cost effective. Not only were 75% of ad visitors converting to fans (75% conversion rate!); they were hyper-targeted both geographically and behaviorally.

Fan Faves and Raves

While the highlights of our campaign included creative promotions and contests, the framework was all about community-building and a sincere dialogue with customers.

We utilized the Mio Gelato blog as a platform to share this dialogue with the community. These posts include great customer photos (like Ben enjoying our gelato with his dad) and quotes from fans raving about Mio’s great paninis.

The blog was responsible for a dramatic increase in web traffic via the search engines. All posts were optimized for maximum visibility and then distributed via Facebook, Twitter and a monthly newsletter. This provided consistent messaging across all online platforms.

The Results

At the completion of our 3 month campaign, we were stunned by the results. Bob reported an average increase of about 30% in sales from the same time period the previous year, exceeding our campaign goal by 20%!

Bob has this to say about the campaign: “I’m thrilled with the results I’m seeing from all of Bonfire’s efforts. Our shops were steady throughout the slower months and we saw increased sales. I can hardly wait to see what’s going to happen this summer!”

We’re also excited to continue working with Bob and Mio Gelato through the summer; creating fresh and engaging contests, providing a voice to our brand enthusiasts and growing the Mio Gelato community.

Result Details

The sales data below combines stats from the NW 23rd location and the Pearl location. The percentages reflect combined increases when compared to the same time period in the previous year.

Month 1: 44.10%

Month 2: 26.08%

Month 3: 27.50%


  • Increased Facebook Fans by over 100%
  • Increased Facebook interactions by 400%


  • Increased Twitter followers by just over 20%

Web Traffic

  • Increased web visits by 65% when compared to the 3 months prior to the campaign
  • Facebook referrals increased by 252% when compared to the 3 months prior to the campaign
  • Twitter referrals increased 67% when compared to the 3 months prior to the campaign