How many times have you stumbled across one of your Facebook friends
checking into a nearby restaurant? Probably almost daily. How many times have you clicked on the Restaurant's name only to realize they don't even have a Facebook page? Major disappointment, right? Where else are you going to find sweet deals and tasty new menu items in a matter of minutes? THIS is why social media is hugely important in the restaurant industry. Trends come and go but people will ALWAYS love to eat.
One of the most important benefits of social media is the concept of consumer to business communication, distinct from the concept of business to consumer communication. It plays a huge role in addressing complaints, commendations and general concerns among your customer base. A restaurant's presence on social media creates the much-needed connection between business owners and their consumers and if used correctly, it will only strengthen your customers' loyalty. By the same token, if used improperly it could be a disaster.
Various social media platforms allow restaurants to spread company news and brand awareness, while still keeping the company approachable. There has always been a noticeable distance in traditional marketing tactics between consumers and brands but social media is a catalyst for communication – and people are utilizing it every single day. This goes beyond simply having a presence on social media. You must be active...even when you come across bad conversations (which are inevitable). This is your chance to show your consumers that you honestly care about what they have to say and that you will do everything you can to make sure they come back.
Another absolutely huge and undeniable benefit of social media is how quickly news can spread, good or bad. According to a recent study by The
Hartman Group, "during an eating or drinking occasion, nearly one-third of
Americans use social media. Among the Millennial demographic, which comprises people between the ages of 18 and 32, the share using social media while eating or drinking arises to 47%," (foodbusinessnews.com). Nearly half of young Americans are posting pictures of their meals and drinks. Why shouldn't they be pictures of your meals?
Aside from engaged users, one trend is especially important and that is the positive correlation between a restaurant's revenue and its social media reviews. People are online and people are talking. It's your job to give them something to talk about! The benefits of twitter in the food business are illustrated here with an example from Starbucks. It is viral social word of mouth at its finest.
On October 28, Starbucks launched “Tweet-a-Coffee” on Twitter. Users simply link their Starbucks account to their Twitter in order to send $5 gift cards to followers instantly, no matter how far apart from each other. As of December 5, the campaign resulted in $180,000 in purchases; 32% of those sales occurred on the first day! Not only did Starbucks boost their sales through social networking, but the coffee guru can now follow the Twitter accounts of those who participated in “Tweet-a-Coffee” and keep the conversation going. By following trends and special interests of consumers, the business can continue to market to the wants and needs of consumers. Starbucks can even “tweet at” consumers!
At the start of 2013, Facebook recorded over one billion users worldwide, more than 14% of the global population. The number one ranked social network hosts pages to everyday people as well as organizations and businesses.
Today’s top performing food and beverage companies have active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and a growing list of networks!
Social media marketing (SMM) is the key to building community, collecting user feedback, and soliciting new products instantly! What sets SMM apart from traditional marketing-such as magazine and television ads-is the two directional content. On social networks, fans participate in contests, giveaways, and exclusive offers on an equal footing with the brand, at least when executed properly.
With the click of a “like,” “retweet,” or original posts and tweets, consumers can spread the word about the brands and products that they use, faster than word of mouth. As active social network users, food and beverage companies can address concerns or voice appreciation of business directly to customers!
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