THE BLOG

How Restaurants Are Engaging the Mobile Foodie

Dec 12, 2012 | Updated Feb 11, 2013

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See this graph? It might not look like much, but it's proof. Proof of what? Proof that a social media strategy, if done right, can equate to sales. Now you're probably wondering what "done right" means...right?

Well, it's not one size fits all. Factors like restaurant style, type of consumer base, size of following and overall tone of the business are important to take into account. Putting together a social strategy can get confusing, costly and time consuming. I know because my team and I spend a lot of time working with restaurant owners/operators perfecting their "just right" social media strategy.

The good news is that there are a few things that any restaurant owner (or business owner for that matter) can do to increase their social media ROI (to the tune of nearly 30% in some cases!). I worked with my friends at Momentfeed, a social/mobile marketing platform that has also worked with a number of restaurants to refine their strategies. They were able to provide some great before and after stories and metrics.

1) Take over and then combine duplicate pages: Did you know anyone can create a page that looks like it might be your restaurant's business page? It's true, and these pages are usually created by customers who can't find the registered Facebook page for your restaurant when they are trying to engage with you. These unauthorized Facebook pages are of no value because you can't capture your customers' engagement on these pages. The first step to centralizing your social media is taking over and then merging these duplicate pages with your registered business page.

Search for your restaurant's name in Facebook. If any other page appears as a result except for the one you currently manage, claim these pages. Directions are spelled out by Facebook here, but in a nutshell you'll have to prove that the restaurant is yours through paperwork or your email address.

The payoff: Cinnabon, one of Momentfeed's clients recently cleaned up their duplicate pages and refocused their messaging on Facebook. Engagement increased by 86%!

2) Get your location right: It sounds crazy, but somehow how more than half of 100,000 leading brands in the U.S. have inaccurate locations in their social media (according to a Momentfeed study). Again, these locations (geocodes to be techy and specific) were created by unreliable third parties, and many times loyal customers. Incorrect geocode data means a missed opportunity either online or in store. In fact, according to Momentfeed, 3.7 million point of sale engagements are lost every day due to mismanaged venues.

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Case and point:
Arby's provides a pretty startling example here. Check out the amount of engagement on their registered Foursquare Venue versus that on their duplicate pages. Keep in mind none of the fans and associated check ins on these pages can be used for marketing/promotion.

3) Focus on local Facebook pages: It may sound counterintuitive, but multi-location restaurants should focus social media energy on the local pages versus the national brand page. This is because restaurant-goers engage with restaurants on a direct level by visiting their neighborhood's location, participating in local deals and checking in.

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The payoff: Momentfeed client, Texas Roadhouse registered all their locations, merged duplicates and then published local-relevant content on their local pages and saw 71% more engagement on local pages than the brand page.

4) Use multiple social media channels for the same promotion:
The best way to explain this idea is through two examples.

One: LA-based restaurant chain Barney's Beanery recently ran a promotion where customers took photos at Barney's Beanery and then tagged them on Instagram or Foursquare to win a non-specified prize. The promotion ran for two weeks. The results were 66% more check ins through social media. This amounts to a 66% larger audience for future promotions.

Two: Barney's Beanery offered their current social media fans a percent off their meal on a slow day of business. They pushed out the deal and communicated with fans through Facebook and Foursquare. The results were 26% increase in sales and 400% increase in likes.

Of course, I've only scratched the surface here, but you'll definitely set yourself up for social media success if you take the hour or two to enact these suggestions now. If you have more specific questions, leave a comment and I'll respond.

Co-written by Lauren Sudekum of ChowNow