By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert
You would have to live in a cave or on a deserted island to not see how the Internet and social media have dramatically changed how restaurants market in today's economy.
Facebook has become the poster child of social media channels boosting 1.49 billion monthly active users. Twitter has an average of 320 million monthly active users. Instagram recently passed Twitter last month when it hit 400 million monthly active users. Face it, social media has become part of our lives.
Smart restaurant owners make social media marketing a must in today’s economy. The old saying that “you go fishing when the fish are biting” rings especially true when it comes to marketing and social media. With so many users on social media channels today, it’s very easy for your restaurant’s message to get lost in a barrage of posts, updates, tweets, and Instagram pictures. To stand out in today’s market, you need to be witty, original, authentic, and just a little different.
While the Big Four — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest — have become the social media standard, there are some exciting new social channels appearing across smartphones everywhere. Savvy operators are taking a look at these new kids on the block as a way to out-market the competition.
Waze is “the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app.” If Facebook and Google Maps had a baby, it would be Waze. When you sign up, you are joining a community of other drivers in your area that update and report real-time traffic and road conditions. It will notify you if a vehicle is stopped on the side of the road, before you approach police, accidents or traffic jams. It’s basically a personal heads-up traffic report in real-time with people on the road with you.
People are flocking to Waze for the opportunity to connect with friends and compete with them as well. Waze let you score points for driving and reporting traffic conditions. As your points go up, so does your ranking.
With all this buzz in increasing popularity, Waze is a perfect channel for restaurants to market to real-time consumers in traffic. Waze sells advertising that is perfectly suited for this industry. An icon of your restaurant location will appear on the app. When drivers are close to your business, your ad will pop up, displaying your offer, and with a simple push of a button, it will navigate them right to your door.
This is a feature that literally drives traffic to you.
Periscope is a popular live video streaming app that was purchased by Twitter back in March 2015, so this app only works if you have a Twitter account. If you do, then you are all set to broadcast your view of the world. Video has always been an incredible medium to broaden your brand and tell your story.
There are quite a few ways that a restaurant can take advantage of live video streaming to build their brand:
Show off your culinary skills with a live video demo of a signature item from your menu. Inviting people into your kitchen to share a recipe is a great way to build stronger connections with your customers.
Invite your viewers to witness what really goes on in the preparation of your dining experience — perhaps walking through a local farmers market, visiting a local rancher farm, or an early morning stroll at the local fish market. Give your customers a look at your business from a point of view they rarely see.
Video is a great way to pull people closer to your brand. Contests are a way to get them actively involved. Put the two together and you’ve got a winning combination for PR buzz. Have a new item you just created and are looking for a name for the dish? Why not hold a contest and get input from your customers?
There’s no better way to highlight your brand than showing your team in action during a busy dinner rush, catered event, or a guest birthday or anniversary. If you have a signature amenity that you offer for such occasions, this is a great time to show off to the world.
In the hyper-busy world we live in, technology keeps growing dramatically and dynamically every year. Smart restaurant operators take advantage of hot trends and learn to use them to give them an edge. The Millennials are here, and they are using social media to communicate on a daily basis. You can lie to yourself and say your guests don’t really use social media (which is what a lot of restaurants do) or you can be bold and market outside of your comfort zone. If we took a trip back in time, the ancient Romans would say to us, “fortunam iuuare” — fortune favors the bold.