Restaurant chain courts Facebook fans with promises of free food

A popular bistro-style Chinese restaurant chain is wooing Facebook users with promises of free lettuce wraps if they 'like' their page.

To celebrate its 18th anniversary this month, P.F. Chang's in the US will be giving away free appetizers of its popular lettuce wraps between now and July 31 to anyone who 'likes' their Facebook page.

The promotion has attracted thousands of fans to 'like' the page and posts, and has drawn noticeably more engagement on the company's wall. In addition to attracting 1,343 'likes,' for instance, one company post dated July 6 generated 292 comments. Prior to the recent campaign, posts generated a fraction of those numbers.

After submitting their email information, fans will get a voucher redeemable for a free serving of Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps at any restaurant in the US.

The wraps are made of wok-seared chicken, mushrooms, green onions, and water chestnuts and are served over crispy rice sticks with cool, crisp lettuce wraps.

The offer is valid with any food or drink purchase and is limited to one per table.

Restaurants and fast-food chains are increasingly harnessing the power of social media like Twitter and Facebook to promote new deals and drive traffic - on the cheap.

In May, Starbucks's frappuccino page attracted thousands of new Facebook fans during a promotional blitz for a 'happy hour' campaign, where drinks were sold at half price for a limited period.

According to a report from industry publication Nation's Restaurant News, however, all-night diner Denny's boasts the most active Facebook fans - defined as users who do more than just 'like' a page and actively engage in posts and threads.

Other active restaurant Facebook fan pages are White Castle, Panera Bread and Arby's.

P.F. Chang's has locations in Kuwait City, Dubai and Mexico City in addition to 200 locations across the US. They will open their first Canadian outpost in 2012 and are also exploring licensing agreements with developers in the Philippines and Puerto Rico.