Posted 14 September 2012
Note: this post accompanies my talk at LincUpLive.
How should companies use social media to increase sales? The answer is … it depends on each individual benefit. Social media is not a golden egg!
This lack of golden egg is the subject of my talk at this year’s Linc Up Live. As well as explaining how I go about producing a social media strategy (for any industry), I looked at examples of companies who have used various social platforms well. As I’d been told that many of the companies were restaurants, I thought it best to pick foodie examples.
Despite wanting to give fresh examples, it was impossible not to refer to Joe Sorge’s AJ Bombers. Referenced on social-focused web blogs around the world, and in Gary Vaynerchuk’s The Thank You Economy, the Milwaukee burger joint has often led the way using new social media and continues to come up with ingenious ideas. Their use of Twitter is exemplary. They:
- Acknowledge customers before they arrive / during their visit / after they’ve left (see fig.1)
- Link to relevant pages on their other platforms (e.g. Facebook)
- Give customers useful information (such as opening times, busy periods or when they are fully booked)
- Include customers in making business decisions (see fig.2)
- Post pictures of mouth-watering food
- Supply customers with vouchers, competitions and special offers (see their ‘free birthday burgers’ in fig.3)
- Let us in on behind-the-scenes information (I’d like to see much more of this from all restaurants: people are interested in this kind of stuff)
One top tip, from the excellent Jen Rubio, is to use other’s hashtags to help relevant customers find you. For example, if you’re near a concert using a specific hashtag, use that hashtag to invite people to your restaurant after their event has finished! She also gives further examples of companies using similar methods and recommends Lara Dickson’s book Twitter for Restaurants – which has some golden nuggest and is less than 30 pages long.
Kogibbq is another great example of Twitter usage. They announce their food cart’s location on Twitter and have grown a following of well over 100,000!
When it comes to Facebook, there are loads of examples. One of my favourites is Café Rio. It is considered and thoughtful:
- Great images: everything from behind-the-scenes prep shots to completed dishes, new restaurants to funny pics (see fig.5)
- Content that focuses on a variety of topics: for example, competitions that keep their audience engaged (see fig.6)
- Fun conversation: discussions, polls and pictures – about everything from food to Mexico to current events. A great example is a friendly poke at America’s Olympic medallist McKayla which received over 1,000 likes and 76 comments! (see fig.7)
- Direct consumer engagement: a wonderful example is a recent conversation between two customers which Café Rio gets involved in to take it to an even better level (see fig.8)
foursquare and Yelp are platforms that are perfect for restaurants (as well as many other physical venues) – think of it as a kind of TripAdvisor for restaurants. Amongst other things, it allows:
- Patrons to leave reviews, ratings and tips (e.g. it’s how I knew to order the “burnt ends and pulled pork combo” at Bodeans)
- People to search for a nearby restaurant.
- Users to gain “badges” for various achievements (e.g. checking into 10 different venues, visiting the same venue 3 times in a week, checking-in after 3am on a school night).
- Restaurants to offer special deals for followers (e.g. foursquare users get a free x when they check-in).
Again, AJ Bombers is a great example of how to use this platform well. [Note: I tried to find other examples, but none was as good!]. My favourite uses of foursquare include:
- Specials: offering discounts and freebies to foursquare users who perform certain actions is a great way to entertain and reward … recipients will then do your marketing for you when they tell everyone else (see fig.9)
- Badges: a regular tool used by AJ Bombers, from the “swarm” badge which needs 50 or more users checking-in at the same venue at the same time, to hiring a bunch of boats in April so that customers could gain the “I’m on a boat” badge! The former increased revenue by 110%; the latter resulted in the restaurant’s biggest sales day ever (see fig.10)
Claims that marketing stunts like this have been running for years are silenced when trade continues to be strong for quite some time after the event; the wave of customer photos, posts and tweets that come out of the event mean that the company often benefits for much longer than the event itself. This just didn’t happen 10 years ago (Saturday following boat day was 5th biggest sales day ever).
Another of my favourite platforms is Pinterest, and Mooo Restaurant is a good example of how to use it well. Similar to a pin board it enables users to ‘pin’ images and links to web pages – which then appear in friends’ feeds – and allows others to repin it on to their own boards.
Used by people like a scrapbook, it enables businesses to pin collections of pictures:
- As well as showing images of their dinner dishes, Mooo Restaurant includes pictures of their bar and restaurant, along with pictures of events they’ve held. (see fig.11)
- They make it personable by showing what goes on behind-the-scenes. I think they could make more of this as they only show a few pictures. People are interested in this kind of shot. It helps to build a relationship between your customers and you as real people. Show your team setting the tables for dinner, taking delivery of the fresh produce, even hanging out after service. (see fig.12 – although I have to admit artistic licence as I’ve joined two of their boards together here).
- One thing they get spot on at Mooo is having a number of boards covering topics like weddings and special events ideas. It helps to bring people to your pages, get a discussion going but also helps your customers find solutions to their problems. (see fig.13)
All of the above examples are examples of restaurants that have taken the opportunity to use modern platforms to broaden their customer base AND customer interaction.
The beauty of social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Pinterest is that, although they require time and effort like all other marketing campaigns, you don’t have to do all the work: your customers help to promote your company for you.
Who wouldn’t want that?!