For the most part the restaurant industry today is still trying to get a good grasp on how to use social media. Most are more reactive than proactive, meaning they are doing something for the sake of doing it, not having a clear goal or measure of results. Many are confusing measurable results with number of Facebook 'likes' or Twitter followers. They are missing the ultimate goals which are customer loyalty, engagement and making customers so happy that they let their social networks know about it.
Restaurants are creating offers, contests and promotions to drive up their number of Facebook 'likes' but then what do they do with them? Check out this example from Buca di Beppo. A 'like' is meaningless if you don't give your audience a reason to stick around and tell others about you. As a marketer I wouldn't feel it was right to take your money for increasing your 'likes'. I want to increase the number of audience members that click on your links, respond to your posts, share with friends and eat at your restaurant. (Read more on this in this great blog post by my friend Chuck Hemann.)
Restaurants are using coupon programs like Groupon and Living Social which can be written off as a marketing expense because they won't see a profit from them. These platforms will drive new business but do you want the business of the 'couponers' that are going to go where there's a better deal next week? By participating in this they are driving down their value without any increase in loyalty or engagement.
With yet another platform Google+ emerging, restaurants that are still trying to get a handle on social media can feel overwhelmed. I recently had a friend in the industry say to me over lunch, its too early for me to throw out my Beta for VHS. My reply was, jumping on the next new thing isn't what is important, it's knowing where your audience is.
In a recent post on my own blog Jill Might Know Jack, I talked about Applebee's decision to go with Facebook Places over other LBS platforms. This made the most sense for Applebee's whereas Tasti D-Lite has opted for reaching their audience through Foursquare. AJ Bombers created a cult-like following through Twitter. It would be pretty silly for them to abandon the communities they've cultivated to jump over to G+. Of course there comes a time where we evolve and let our Friendster profiles go but what is most important is to find out where your existing and desired audience is and be there. It's not hard to find out. It can be done by asking them in a simple survey. Once you've identified your platforms create programs to engage your audience.
I recently saw a QR code on the pizza box from a smaller local chain and was so excited that they were trying something out of the box (no pun intended). I scanned it and was brought to their homepage. I was disappointed. I'm already a customer. It would be just as easy for me to type their name in Google as it would for me to open the app, scan, and wait to be directed to their homepage which wasn't even optimized for a mobile device. It would have been a whole different experience if they took me to a page that acknowledged that I had already bought a pizza. They could've offered me a free soda with my next purchase or thanked me for being a customer, offered a loyalty program. Instead I wished I could have the few minutes of my life back.
It seems like there isn't a brand these days that can run a commercial or print or digital ad without telling you to follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, etc. The bottom line is, if your doing something just because someone in your marketing department said you should, without a goal, measurements and synergy with your business, you're wasting your time and disappointing those that are social media savvy.
There are lots examples out there of restaurants who are heading in the right direction. Here are some examples:
Thanks for the insight on how restaurants are doing social and some of the pitfalls that can be avoided with a little forethought and strategy behind them.
I was particularly interested to learn about the pizza restaurant as my "local" is actually a CTCT customer and I'd love for them to get more creative in their social approach - the "new" place (a little closer) has a great cheese lovers and I'm swaying a bit because I can order from them online. With a little time spent on loyalty as you say, the smaller shop that is doing newsletters well could likely keep me hooked!
I check in at restaurants via Foursquare, Yelp or Facebook depending on my mood but have yet to see somewhere that is rewarding me for doing so. I think there is a lot of opportunity here.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Ros for the comment. I agree there is a ton of opportunity here. Restaurants are still pretty behind on their thinking. They are so used to paying for TV, radio, billboards, etc. for advertising. I'm looking forward to more of them being more open to social media and a two-way conversation with their audience instead of pushing their message.
ComScore recently put out some info on use of QR codes: http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/8/14_Million_Americans_Scanned_QR_or_Bar_Co...
Yeah, the barcode generator is very useful to our daily life and I have just bought one <a href=” http://www.onbarcode.com/products/iphone_barcode/barcodes/qrcode.html
”>QR Barcode</a> for my phone, and it works well. So, if you are interested in it ,you may have a try.
QR Code is far more widespread than Data Matrix, Aztec Code or Micro QR Code. Actually Micro QR Code is rarely used and is only given here as a technology preview. If you want to create a campaign for your products using a 2D Code, make sure that you are using QR Codes, not the other types.You also can download a free barcode scanner for your phone and have a try. It's really very funny. I have found a free online barcode generator to make my own barcodes for products and it is really convenient and useful. KEEPAUTOMATION Free Online Code Reader I just want to share it with you, everybody, maybe you can try it someday you may have a try someday.
now many mobile phones are installing some QR reader to make things easier. so QR codes making are playing big part . it is necessary for us to know how to make. we can find a lot of similar tool on the web.