Arby’s joins Facebook loyalty program Plink

Arby’s today became the latest member of Plink, a loyalty program that gives restaurant consumers Facebook credits for their real-life purchases, said Peter Vogel, Plink’s cofounder and head of sales and business development.

Plink transfers real-world purchases into Facebook credits, a form of virtual currency, which can be used to advance in games like FarmVille or CityVille, and others, Vogel said. Vogel said his company hopes to extend into other channels including retail and music. “In the next six months, you’ll see a big movement toward a lot of companies starting to accept credits as payment,” he predicted.

Plink’s partnership with Arby’s came about because Plink’s users said they would be interested in earning points at the company’s restaurants, Vogel said.  “The audience we’re targeting are the social gamers on Facebook,” Vogel said, adding that the total population of Facebook gamers is about 60 million people, a significant share of the social media site’s users.

Plink users can earn 10 Facebook Credits for every $5 they spend at Arby’s, according to a press release. With each purchase, customers are notified via email of earned credit. The email includes a link that, when clicked, automatically applies the credits to the customer’s Facebook account.

Customers sign up for Plink at the company’s website using a credit card and Facebook account, Vogel said.

“You can potentially target people who like specific games,” he said, adding that Facebook allows groups like Plink to narrow down users into subsets. For example, Plink could potentially target all Farmville users who also like Arby’s on their profiles with coupons or promotions. Plink doesn’t yet engage in direct marketing to consumers based on their Facebook likes or interests, which according to Vogel is the next step for the company.

For now, however, Plink’s focus is on restaurants. In January, when the company launched, it had already signed chains including Taco Bell, Outback Steakhouse and Dunkin Donuts. Arby’s is the first chain signed after the launch, Vogel said.

Bob Kraut, SVP of advertising and brand communications at Arby’s said in a release: “We believe the opportunity to engage with Facebook members by rewarding them with Facebook credits for dining at Arby’s may strengthen our success.”

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