Social Media Campaigns in the Restaurant Industry

Companies around the country and the world participate in social media each and every day. I have decided to take a look at two different restaurants, Smokey Bones and Applebees. Being in the food industry myself I found these businesses to be an excellent selection in comparing the social media efforts of both companies.

smokeybones

At Smokey Bones, they specialize in three things; good food, good drinks, and good times. If you have ever been there before, you can probably relate to all three of those things. From ribs that were roasted overnight, to unique bar beverages, all the way to the special nights out that they offer, Smokey Bones delivers. At Smokey Bones, they are big fans of sports, loud music, and surprises. Over the past several years, they have managed to successfully turn themselves from a failing restaurant into a successful one. How do they get their message out? They use their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

 

Smokey Bones uses two sets of Facebook pages. They have a corporate page and then they have local pages. The corporate page promotes food and beverage items that all stores carry, and specials that are company-wide. All of their posts are complete with pictures, which helps them to better sell the things that they are talking about. Their local pages not only repost things that the Corporate page posts, but also includes events specific to that location, and pictures taken onsite. The local pages are useful for people in the immediate area to the restaurant to know what is happening.

Although the Smokey Bones Twitter only has about 5,400 followers, their account is really cool. They are able to post their photos and promotions similar to Facebook, but they also retweet their customers’ comments from their own pages. When a customer uses #smokeybones the restaurant can then find the comment, and share it on their own page for everybody to see. The cool thing about that from a corporate standpoint is that they can see the actual pictures of the food and beverages taken in their restaurants. This can serve many purposes including visual quality control.

The Smokey Bones Instagram is the source of a lot of the pictures found on Facebook and Twitter. I was surprised however, to find that they only had about 1,200 followers compared to 94,800 likes on Facebook. The company does not seem to be as active on Instagram as they are on their other social media outlets.

applebees

Applebees as a company believes in operating on the principles of exceptional value and family fun. Applebees draws people of all ages and lifestyles with its fun, family-friendly atmosphere and signature bar and grill menu. Unlike Smoke Bones targeting people twenty-one years and older, Applebees is focused on the family experience. Applebees gets their messages out through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube.

Their Facebook page has a mix between promotional posts and PR type posts. From looking over their page, I get a real sense of the company’s social standpoint on top of getting a feel for the type of food they have to offer. Similar to Smokey Bones, Applebees also has local store pages. However, the local pages for Applebees do not repost from their corporate store, and they do not have many photos on them. From a customer standpoint, the local pages are not very appealing to me.

Their Twitter page is very similar in the sense that they retweet posts from their customers, and they have a ton of promotional pictures on their page of their items, drinks, and specials going on. Unlike Smokey Bones, Applebees has about 406,000 followers on their twitter page. They are very active on Twitter which I like from a business standpoint, because it shows their customers that they truly do care. Their Youtube cannel is very unique. There they not only post their television commercials, but hold video contests for their fans. This is another smart way for them to stay connected with their customers.

The two restaurants have their similarities and differences, but at the end of the day, their social media campaigns are reflect who they are as a company. They reflect their goals, values, and mission and that is important for a company to demonstrate in their social media campaigns.

Best Practices For Businesses On Twitter

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Photo provided by: http://www.brassmedia.com

In my last blog, I discussed some of the risks of a business taking a business online, and using social media, as well as some of the risks of not taking a business online to social media sites. For companies who decide to go social with their business, it is important to understand some of the best practices for businesses on Twitter. These are things that will aid in the successful use of the powerful tool.

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Photo provided by: blogs.webtrends.com

Companies need to first of all keep their tweets short and sweet. As we know, tweets are already limited to 140 characters as it is, so it is important to best utilize that small amount of text that does go out. You want your messages to be creative, and be easily read via mobile devices and through text messaging. Although there is no “golden rule” to the amount of characters that a tweet should have, research has shown that tweets with less than 100 characters tend to have a higher rate of user engagement.

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Photo provided by: http://www.websuccessagency.com

The time that you send out tweets is very important as well. Messages should go out in real time, especially when they are in regards to public relation matters. When it comes to your normal day to day tweets, the best time to send out information is going to vary on the audience. The older target audience is most likely to receive your messages in the morning, or in the early evening. If your target audience is of a younger age, perhaps mid-day or later in the evening is the best time. Time factors can also vary from season to season. The best practice would be to do a trial and error. Find what works for your business, and feed off of that. You should also plan to tweet often. A good goal would be to send out messages between two and five times per day. The more your audience sees, the more they are going to look forward to what you have to say.

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Photo provided by: http://www.rawhideandvelvet.com

Tweets should be engaging. Give your audience a call to action. It is also a good idea to use an @reply and/or mentions. Your messages should be trendy that way people will want to engage with them, and share them. Another way you can be engaging is by hosting creative contests and giveaways. Anything you can do to engage your audience is always beneficial to your Twitter page.

In the Food Industry, one company who effectively uses Twitter is Whole Foods. They use location based twitter hashtags on their page, and do very well in promoting their food demos. One example is Whole Foods in New York City. Check them out at @wholefoodsnyc. If you were Whole Foods, you would want to have someone assisting you with the location based Twitter activity the day of your demo, because product demonstrations by the brand, actually running the food demo, interacting with your customers, photographing, tweeting and posting will take more than your two hands and head.

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Photo provided by: http://www.advertisingtimes.fr

These are some best practices for any business using Twitter. The food industry is starting to jump on the bandwagon, and in my opinion will continue to grow and become leaders in the social media world. To me, there is no better business to be in than the food industry, because there will always be a need for those types of businesses. This post completes my series on social media. I hope that I was able to provide some useful information over the past several weeks. I encourage every business owner to explore the social scene, as it is what gives credibility in today’s marketplace.

 

 

References

https://business.twitter.com/best-practices

http://foodbeverage.about.com/od/socialmediainfood/a/The-Benefits-Of-Twitter-For-Food-Entrepreneurs_2.htm

Risks of going social and not going social

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Photo from http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk

This week we are going to look both at the risks of taking your company online, and the risks of not taking your company online. We have talked about in past discussions that there are rewards, and in many cases, necessities of going social. But with every reward, there are always risks. It is important for companies to weigh out the pros and the cons and make a decision that is right for them.

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Photo from http://www.etfdailynews.com

A company’s reputation is a very valuable thing that allows it to better connect with consumers, and can lead to higher quality exposure for the business. Implementing a social marketing strategy that takes advantage of that reputation is essential to the company’s success, but again, it can also bring a lot of risks and challenges with it. Below are two examples of how social media has ruined the reputation of some companies.

  1. A small producer of jewelry found out that retailer Urban Outfitters had copied their work and was using similar language to market it. The story quickly spread widely on Twitter, starting from highly engaged craft enthusiasts. These users might not have had massive followings but the quality and unity of their social networks resulted rapid, heightened awareness, eventually even gaining celebrity support with a tweet from Miley Cyrus.
  2. Bob Parsons, founder of GoDaddy.com, blogged and tweeted a video of him shooting an elephant while on vacation in  Zimbabwe. The graphic video featured Zimbabweans stripping the elephant for meat, while wearing GoDaddy baseball caps. This is not an example of positive branding. Parsons received an extremely negative backlash from social channels, especially from animal rights groups such as PETA, who closed their GoDaddy account and encouraged others to do the same. Parsons responded to the criticism on the grounds that the hunt was on humanitarian grounds to stop elephant-caused damage to crops. While there may be legitimate reasons for keeping elephant numbers in check, it would probably have been better for the publicizing of this event to not have happened. Click here to see how social media ruined Parsons 

Social Media can hurt a business
Photo from http://www.techvibes.com

Social Media can be destructive, but it also has many benefits. Some small business owners today are still insisting that taking their company onto social media sites is not for them, and there are risks for taking that stance. Social media is a way for companies to build trust and credibility with their customers. Companies who choose not to go social, are risking be labeled as a “fly-by-night” operation.

Companies who stay off of social media are also missing out on potential customers. Being on sites like Twitter and Facebook gives potential customers the chance to see what others think about a company, and can demonstrate that the business is easily accessible. Without being on social media, potential customers could be turning to the competition. The competition is then being given the advantage over you. This can be compared to allowing your competition to answer the phone for you; meaning that they will be talking to the people who you were originally seeking out.

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Photo from http://www.careerrocketeer.com

There are many more risks of not going social, but it is important to take into account the risks of going social. Companies have to weigh out the risks, and determine that is the best decision for them. In my opinion, I think it is better for companies to get out there on social media, and be present to gain customers. Companies need to have teams in place for crisis management, and this is a good function for public relations people. As long as a company is prepared for the social media disadvantages, I think they will find way more benefits to being online, than offline.

 

 

 

References

Stokes, K. (2011, June 8). 5 examples where social media jeopardised online reputation. FreshMinds. Retrieved May 24, 2014, from http://www.freshminds.net/2011/06/5-examples-where-social-media-jeopardised-online-reputation/

YEC. (2013, July 1). 10 Risks You Take by Saying ‘No’ to Social Media Marketing. AllBusiness Experts. Retrieved May 24, 2014, from http://experts.allbusiness.com/10-risks-you-take-by-saying-no-to-social-media-marketing/#.U4DbvTbD-Uk

Food Service & Social Media

This week I am going to talk about mobile technologies and how it relates to the Food Service Industry. In a time where technology changes daily, it important for companies in the Food Service Industry to keep up with the changing marketplace, and make adjustments where and when they are needed because It is expected that the number of people who order online will be continuing to grow and become a major concept in food service technology. Self-service ordering technology already exists today. It is usually either done on site using a table top interface or online before arriving to the restaurant. In the very foreseeable future, self-ordering is expected to rely more on smart phones through the use of mobile Applications. This technology will take into account for user preferences and would combine Geo-location technology in order to build loyalty among customers through messages sent directly to a person’s cell phone.

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Also emerging in the food service industry (and the retail industry) is the use of mobile point of sale devices. Some college campuses and hospitals are already using this technology in their dining halls. Restaurant managers who are looking for better efficiency and flexibility in their business are starting to look at this concept because it can save time and reduce costs. Most restaurants are looking to promote greater interaction with customers, and by using devices such as mobile phones, they can provide a good window of opportunity to build strong customer relationships and also build better management capabilities over time. I believe that digital wallets will be used more widely in the restaurant industry. Mobile menus are a good way to provide information, and aside from costs, they can also provide nutritional facts about each and every dish available to customers looking to order online.

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One mobile app that is currently on the market in the food service industry is called Tap To Eat. From the single location store to the multi-level chain, Tap to Eat gives you total control the customer’s mobile experience.  Their app is designed to include merchant account integration for ease of use. Funds from transactions are deposited directly into an existing merchant account or directly through an existing POS system.  Their unique marketing platform allows business owners and managers to engage their customers through social media sharing and loyalty rewards. The cool part about this technology is that the constant social media sharing can even grow the business’ online presence and build their customer loyalty all at the same time.

 

The following video is a simple highlight of how mobile technology can be a game changer in the food service industry. It is crazy to imagine where the future of technology is heading, but it is all leading to a better level of service, and of course, increased profits.

Food Service Technology Video

 

The current state of social media in the food service industry

This week, as a part of my blog series about social media, I am going to talk about how the food service industry utilizes social media as a medium of advertisement. A lot of companies in the food service industry have really used the social media marketing trend to their advantage! I expect that the number of food service companies using social media for marketing will only grow in the coming years. In regards to marketing plans and strategies, the use of social media and other digital marketing channels are expected to expand as more businesses use these mediums for brand promotion, customer insight. Many companies are also using social media as a platform for talent acquisition. Food service industry executives have looked into how to leverage digital, social and mobile technologies to obtain additional sales. In a 2012 KPMG survey, sixty-three percent of those surveyed took note of the impact social media has had on the food and beverage industry. Likewise, fifty-two percent of those surveyed said that they had planned to use social media for brand promotion in 2013, while fifty-one percent planned to use it for customer feedback.

foodservice-social-mediaPhoto Courtesy of http://www.catertraxstories.com

Even with all of the benefits of Twitter and other social mediums, Facebook remains as the top social network for colleges and universities. So where is the real life application? At  Colorado State University Deon Lategan, director of dining services, said that they created a Facebook page because that is where students tend to get much of their information about what is going on around campus. He talks about how the students never read the emails that are sent to them, they don’t read thetable cards in the cafeteria, and they definitely don’t read their posted signs. “We have found that when we invite folks to special events through our Facebook pages the word just passes like wildfire. It’s just amazing how they connect that way. It’s been a very effective tool for us.” Each dining hall on the campus takes care of its own Facebook page, which not only tells students about special events, but also posts photos, quizzes, polls, contests and facts such as informing students about sustainability initiatives on campus.

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Photo Courtesy of http://socialmedia.colostate.edu/

Now that I have examined how social media is being used in the food service industry, be sure to check out my post next week about how the industry is using mobile applications to promote their businesses.

References

DuBois, J. (n.d.). Examples of Social Media in the Food & Beverage Industry. Small Business. Retrieved May 3, 2014, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-social-media-food-beverage-industry-64775.html

Ramsey, L. (2011, May 16). Making social media work. Foodservice Director. Retrieved May 5, 2014, from http://www.foodservicedirector.com/managing-your-business/generating-revenue/articles/making-social-media-work

Social Media Tools

            There are many tools available to assist with your social media sites. When businesses manage multiple social sites, as they often do, they tend to find tools that will help them successfully post items of substance. The goal of social media is to build and share your brand with people all over a specific market, or even all over the world. Many companies rely on specific tools that help them achieve their goal. Today I am going to look at two sites that do this, one of them is Sway and the other is Tagboard.

            The first social media tool is called “Sway”. Sway is an application that pulls articles that relate to you or your business (based on interests and engagement), and puts them on a dashboard for you to view. From the dashboard you are able to share them through your social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Users are able to schedule their share, which allows for the sharing of multiple stories within one day without overloading their audience at once. The site also has analytics that shows users what content is the most effective for growing their community. The price starts at free, and goes up to one hundred twenty dollars. You are able to pick the pricing plan that best fits what you and your company need.

            The second tool used in Social Media is a site called Tagboard. Tagboard is a site which monitors hash tags across multiple social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, Vine, and even Google Plus. The site will create a custom board for it’s users which displays all postings with that hash tag. This is a useful tool for companies who want to monitor their brand. It is very useful for business owners who do not want to invest a large amount of money in social media monitoring. The second benefit is content curation. The tool is a great way to find content related to a topic of interest. A manager can find out what others are saying about food service industry news, for example. Once you perform the search, you are able to focus the search to just a single social media platform. Companies can even reply to conversations right from within Tagboard. The site also provides real-time leads at your fingertips! Suppose you’re a new restaurant in Manchester New Hampshire and you’re looking to reach out to people in the Manchester Area. As a Tagboard user, you are able to search for conversations that are taking place on multiple social media platforms using targeted keywords such as #ManchesterDining. The restaurant can connect, share some valuable info and start working on building a clientele that will bring in profits to the business. Plans for this site also start at free, but can go as high as five hundred dollars.

            I think that both of these tools are very helpful to marketers. Social media is the new buzz, and the success of a business can often times depend on it. Businesses are receiving more exposure through these mediums than they ever were even five years ago. I predict that the trend will continue, and more businesses will need to adapt. These social media tools are a great way to do so!