By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert
Look at the social media landscape over the last few years and you’ll notice significant changes. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are household names, and restaurants know that to market themselves effectively, they have to be on these basic social media platforms. If you want to stay current with what the cool kids (also known as the Millennials) are using, we need to explore the evolution of social media.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
When social media started and we had those bulking desktops, pictures were used to share memories. We would upload pictures and share a snapshot of our lives. Then came along the smartphone and pictures changed from being just memories to becoming the basis on communication.
When we started using social media, we would sort through our photos and upload the best ones. The persona of social media was you are what you have done, where you have been, and who your friends are. Basically, you are a composition of the accumulation of memories.
Today, social media has morphed into “instant expression.” The mind shift has changed to what you are doing now. Like, right now. We have almost moved into a voyeuristic frame where we like to share what is happening right now in our life. Your guests want to be a part of your business and there are some new apps that can help you share that message.
“All marketing is about creating conversations and triggering emotions. If you think it’s all about you, you’ll never last.” – Donald Burns, The Restaurant Coach™
Instagram is very popular for restaurant marketing. It has transformed the dining experience as guests armed with smartphones take pictures course by course and share them on the internet. If you want to stand out, then take a look at a couple tools for taking your Instagram game to the next level:
Hyperlapse: This app allows you to use time-lapse photography for videos. It takes a normal video and compresses it into a neat, little snippet that you can upload to your social media platforms. Guests love behind-the-scene looks into the restaurant industry, and this app gives them that. Set your smartphone up on a tabletop tripod, film your team in action during service, press the button on the Hyperlapse app, and voila!
Boomerang: This video app is the opposite of Hyperlapse. This one takes a short burst of photos and stitches them together into an HD video loop. The loop plays forwards and then backwards. It can make something normal, like sauté work in the kitchen, have a fun edge to it. Remember that guests like to see behind the curtain and get an inside look and your business.
The Snapchat Phenomenon
You cannot ignore how powerful this “instant expression” platform is within the social media world. Launched in 2011, Snapchat boasts more than 100 million users a day who watch around 10 billion videos. Yes, that is not a typo — billions. Now, most Snapchatters are between the ages of 18 to 24, however, that is a great demographic to market your brand to.
Restaurants can once again share a day in the life on Snapchat as a “story.” You can also “tease” out new menu items as well. This gives your Snapchat friends an exclusive look at items that soon will be gone, as Snapchat only keeps your snaps active for 24 hours. At first you might think why market on a platform that erases the messages? Their power is scarcity. Snapchat out exclusive content that they only get on the platform, like maybe a secret menu? Hmmm.
How about doing a “story” with a scavenger hunt? As with most social media platforms, you are only limited by your imagination.
Facebook might be the best known platform, but Twitter is the place you can score big points with your guests, if you respond to their tweets about your business. While a lot of restaurants use Facebook, Twitter allows you to connect with your guest on a platform many do not take advantage of, and if you still prefer the human voice over video, there is a platform for you as well.
Anchor: This new kid on the social media block (founded in 2015) is touted as “radio for the people.” It is a platform to start conversations — real conversations. You see, Anchor allows people to respond or comment with their own voice!
Think of it as your own talk radio show. Want to start a conversation about tipping or farm-to-table? Anchor might just be the platform for you. Now, they only give you up to two minutes to get your idea out there, however, with some planning, you can make it happen. Remember, a lot of people thought Twitter would never make it with their 140-character limit for tweet.
If you are still longing for the days of pictures and graphics to convey your social media message, then you’ll want to make sure you look your best and present your brand as first class. Here are a couple apps that you can download straight to your smartphone to give you a graphic designer on the go.
Canva: This online tool (you can use it on your tablet as well) is about as close as you can get to hiring a graphic designer to create posts for all your social media. Loaded with lots of templates, graphics, and typography, this is an easy way to design social media posts that are perfectly-sized for each platform’s different specifications. You can design flyers, menus, Twitter headers, Facebook covers, Pinterest graphics, Instagram posts, and more. Best of all, it’s free to sign up. They do charge for certain templates and photos, however, the pricing is really reasonable.
Typorama: If you like the look of placing cool type on top of your photos, then try Typorama. This easy-to-use app, available on iOS and Android, allows you to pack some added power to your picture posts. Like Canva, you can size the picture so it’s perfect for the dimension requirements of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Social media behavior is changing as more people use photos and videos as a primary form of communication. Restaurants need to adjust. You need to learn to tap into these new tools or risk becoming outdated and out-marketed by a person with nothing more than a smartphone.