By Barbara L. Vergetis Lundin, Assistant Editor
Social media is no flash in the pan, and discounting it as such is one of the biggest mistakes restaurant CEO’s can make.
In fact, Shama Hyder, CEO and founder of The Marketing Zen Group, estimates that only 20 percent of companies and their CEO’s are doing social media right.
McDonalds is a good example. “[They are a company] that is constantly testing and pivoting,” Hyder contends.
The problem with not being on social media or being on social media but not using it to its fullest potential is that restaurant customers are on social media. In fact, 65 percent of adults in the United States use social networking sites, according to research from Pew Research Center that came out late in 2015. This is up 7 percent from 2005, when Pew began tracking social media usage.
So, what do the other 80 percent need to know right now? Hyder offers these 5 tips.
1. Stay consistent. Don’t expect results instantly. Can it happen? Yes. Do you want to build a strategy around it? No.
“A good strategy requires time, agility, and consistency,” Hyder stressed. “It also amplifies what you already have in place. It makes good companies great.”
2. Be agile. You have to take advantage of opportunities as they cross your path.
“You have a responsibility to take a proactive role on social media. It’s where your employees, customers, and shareholders are looking,” Hyder noted. “Look at it as one more place to showcase your leadership.”
3. Be willing to test to see what works. These are still relatively new waters.
“I think the companies that are doing it right are the ones that are always looking for opportunities to experiment and play,” Hyder explained. “Not every tactic will be a win, but the aggregate wins out.
4. Learn to embrace the new ecosystem — not just the tools.
“Realize it isn’t about “using” digital media or “using social media” - it’s realizing that all media is now social in some way, and people ARE the media. It’s a huge mindset shift,” she said, adding, “Know your audience! Go where they are.”
5. Partner with the right brands.
“If I were a restaurant CEO, I’d be breaking down the door to partner with Cooking Fever (a top grossing mobile-app with millions of young users) to reach more audiences in a targeted way,” Hyder said.
Who’s Using Social Media?
In addition to these important tips from Hyder, you should know who is using social media so you can accurately target them.
Young vs. old. A full 90 percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 use social media faithfully. No big surprise there. More surprisingly however is the social activity occurring among the senior population. Pew found that usage among Americans 65 or older has more than tripled since 2010. Currently, 35 percent of this age group use social media compared to a measly 2 percent in 2005.
Gender divide. The gender divide in terms of social media use isn’t that broad these days. Pew has found that, since 2014, usage rates have been similar with 68 percent of women using social media compared to 62 percent of men.
Differences in education, income. Those with higher education and household income are more likely to use social media -- a consistent finding of Pew over the past decade -- compared to just over half of the lowest income households and lowest level education (high school diploma), growth that has actually leveled off in the last few years.
Race/ethnicity. Pew research shows that the difference in social media usage between whites (65 percent) and Hispanics (65 percent) is unremarkable, while African-Americans use social media significantly less at 56 percent.
Urban, suburban, rural usage. According to the Pew research, 64 percent of urban residents, 68 percent of suburban residents, and 58 percent of rural residents use social media – a pattern that has remained consistent over the last decade.
In a nutshell, having a restaurant CEO (or someone acting on his or her behalf) on social media, can act as an extension of the brand and create goodwill among consumers. Further, interaction by the CEO with followers speaks volumes to the customer-centrism and customer service the brand provides.