The Changing Face of Social Media

By Joe Welsh, Foodable Industry Expert

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Think back just a few years ago, restaurant marketing was somewhat simple. Run a local magazine ad, maybe a billboard or even do a postcard mailer. Yes, tactics often included community involvement with the hopes of getting people in the door. After that, word of mouth marketing would kick in and business would be great. Life was good!

But today, it’s a little complicated!

Today's Landscape

Technology changes have dramatically changed everything in life– including restaurant marketing. What once seemed so simple and easy has now become a challenge for the best of restaurant operators. The game is changing every day with the speed of technology advancements. Along with this, the tools your customers use to keep informed have changed as well. From large restaurants chains to independent operators, each of them grapple with these issues.

Engaging Your Customer Everywhere

With these changes, the choices for restaurant marketing have changed as well. Let’s take a look at social media. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ have all risen to the top of restaurant marketing choices. Each of them can effectively communicate to different audiences and offer different options to communicate.

Not to mention, we have become a visual society and the use of video in marketing tools have now also become an effective method to reach customers. Targeting messages to specific audiences with special interest has also become an effective marketing technique. Yes, a billboard along the highway reaches many travelers. But, who are they and are they even a potential customer for my business? The choices are many and most restaurant owners and chains are not up to date on what works, and what does not.

Brand reputation also comes into play with social media sites. Yelp, Trip Advisor and other restaurant review sites are seen by many and used as a decision making tool for consumers. These kinds of programs need to be taken into account as you manage your multiple social media platforms and the impact they have on your business.

How Navigate in the Digital Space 

What are they big guys doing! Take a look at industries outside of the restaurant world to get a glimpse of what is going on. Most of them have shifted their advertising strategies and budgets to digital marketing. A recent article by the CMO Council indicated that 28.2% of all advertising is now spent on digital marketing. This rate is projected to increase by over 15% in 2015. Have you shifted your advertising budgets? As mobile marketing leads the growth trend, are you reaching your customers the way they want to be reached?

Film featuring NYC's Eleven Madison Park | Made Nice by Danny Lund

Film featuring NYC's Eleven Madison Park | Made Nice by Danny Lund

As technology continues to evolve, the attention level to this needs will continue rise as well. No longer can social media marketing be viewed as a task to turn over to a part timer or add it on to an already overburdened staff. The revenue impacts of digital marketing are an important part of your business and require attention. At this point in the game, it is also a competitive advantage for your business.

Many restaurant owners and staffs are doing it the same way they did many years ago while their target consumers are on their smartphones. Take a look at your competition, how would you rate your digital marketing strategies compared to them? Can it be your competitive advantage or disadvantage?

Yes, it got a little complicated.