Leveraging Social Media and Mobile Apps in the Restaurant

Everyone knows that social media campaigns can be powerful tools to build your reputation and brand loyalty. Most people are also aware of the ever-increasing role smartphones play in helping potential customers locate businesses and decide whether or not to give them their patronage.

What many businesses are struggling with is the creation of a successful campaign that harnesses these technologies effectively. Not everyone uses mobile tech yet and social media campaigns can be difficult to obtain meaningful metrics from, making it difficult to determine if your return on investment makes your effort worthwhile. Nonetheless, you can’t afford to ignore the potential that either of these technologies offers in terms of customer engagement and the building of brand loyalty. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Using Social Media Properly Starts With Understanding What It’s Really For

Getting social media to be an effective tool for your business has a lot to do with how you use the technology. The number one mistake that businesses make with social media is taking too strong of a ‘sales’ approach in their attempts to connect with customers. The key point to keep in mind about social media is that it’s meant to be a social platform.  This means that people are using it because they want to connect and share personal experiences with others; they’re not using it so they can be blasted with advertisements and haggled about buying something.

As a business, the best approach to social media is to think about it as a tool to make friends with your customers. It’s a platform where it’s O.K., even expected, to be less formal and more friendly.  Posts should be value-oriented, delivering information you know your customers would be excited to have.

Your posting frequency matters too. In fact, a recent study in the Restaurant Social Media Index 2012 Consumer Report found that brands who published more than six promotional posts per week, had an opt-out rate of 8% from social customers!

The Power of Images in Social Media

Sometimes one good image can be a far more powerful tool to catch people’s attention than any number of text posts could ever be.  Images also have a longer staying power in people’s minds. Think, for instance, how much more likely you will be to remember that such and such restaurant is running a lunch time special on burgers if you actually see a picture of said burger looking totally delectable beforehand.  Platforms like Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram can be particularly powerful tools toward this end, since they are image-focused and shares are user-driven. Mobile platforms such as Yelp and FourSquare have recently beefed up their image sharing capacities as well, adding to the increased importance of images in restaurant marketing campaigns.

Mobile Apps That Build Restaurant Loyalty and Engagement

Given the increasing use of smartphones and mobile technology, it would be folly not to at least have a mobile version of your website enabled. Even better, build a free mobile app that your customers can download to their devices to stay in constant touch.

Several restaurants are using this technology is very effective ways. Krispy Kreme, for example, has an app that alerts users anytime their ‘hot now’ sign is on at their favorite Krispy Kreme location, allowing people to know exactly when they can show up and get their favorite doughnuts freshly baked and piping hot. Denny’s recently ran a mobile campaign where they gave users a digital ‘badge’ each time they ate at a new Denny’s location. The first user to visit a Denny’s in all 50 states was given free Grand Slam breakfasts for life.

These are just a few examples of how you can utilize mobile technology to inspire engagement and loyalty from your customers. If social media and mobile technology is not yet a well-developed aspect of your marketing campaigns, now is as good a time as any to leverage these technologies to your advantage.

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2 Responses to “Leveraging Social Media and Mobile Apps in the Restaurant”

  1. lyndaybaker Says:

    Reblogged this on lyndaybaker and commented:
    Jim Balis Blog on Leveraging Social Media.

  2. Success Strategies for a Restaurant Mobile App Launch | Jim Balis' Blog Says:

    […] Restaurant mobile applications represent an opportunity to track consumer behavior, collect data and connect with our customers at a level that was never possible until the digital age. Investing in the development of a mobile application for your restaurant can be a powerfully effective way to engage your customers and improve your bottom line. […]

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