Good Social Media and restaurants involves a call-to-action. In other words, you have to use social media to get potential guests (note that I did not use the term “customers) to visit your eatery or shopping center. All too often a restaurant or retail marketing person will just stick a Twitter logo or a Facebook logo up and think they’re using a state-of-the-art Social Media approach, when they’re not.
Take this May 2011 video made at San Francisco’s Westfield Village Shopping Center. The problem was the managers of the giant facility used their own valuable ad space to say they have a Twitter account, and used a photo of the Twitter logo to prove it. I investigated their account to see if it resulted in new followers – the answer was not only did it not have an impact, but the account had a really small number of followers, period. Here’s the video:
In order to get more people to use Twitter and other Social Media platforms, and to follow your Twitter Account or your other Social Media accounts, you have to convince them that it’s in their best interest to do so. The first step is to remember that Social Media is far more than just Twitter and Facebook: it’s using as many Social Media platforms as you can in a coordinated fashion. In this way, your blog post or YouTube video goes out to your Facebook and Twitter and Friend Feed pages, and your YouTube video is embedded in your blog post – that’s structure.
Action is making a blog post or video that gets your viewers to do something. Let’s say you’re a shopping center manager and you want to get more people in to your facility. Make a video that is not more than a minute long, saying that if you come into the shopping center’s doors between Date X and Date Y and then while at the center get on Twitter and use the shopping center’s Twitter handle with the hashtag #IAMHERE you could be the winner of a $100 store gift certificate if you’re randomly drawn from a pool of people who did the same thing.
Don’t forget to use your email contacts to send out your blog posts and videos about what you’re doing. Email is the forgotten Social Media asset that helps move an initiative along toward growth. Make a press release and put it in the email, and then send that out to reporters and bloggers. (And don’t make the mistake of not knowing who the local bloggers are!)
To make the contest juicier, have an event that’s staged, say, once a week in the shopping center to announce the winner of the Social Media prize.
But that’s for Twitter – you can add Foursquare to the approach and give an extra credit gift for a person who has the most checkins for the week – shopping center employees not eligible.
But then you can go another step beyond that and give a gift to the person who has the most Tout.com videos pointing to something positive in the shopping center by using the shopping center’s Tout / Twitter handle in the Tout / Tweet about that something.
It Takes Time To Ramp This Up
Remember it takes time to ramp up this kind of approach. Don’t expect immediate results from it, unless you’re offering $1,000 – then it would take off. But even with that example, the first month of activity will not be as great as the next one, and so on. You have to develop it as a habit that people come to expect to see. After three months, you’ll start to see results in new guests returning to your shopping center for more than just the contest. Moreover, the contest will become events forging new friendships between people who met at your facility.
That’s something special.
What About Restaurants?
So can this approach work for a restaurant? Yes. You can even have a social media event right in your place! In fact, I’ve never seen any eatery do this, but it would bring home the fact that social media is used to connect people physically, not just online. Use your imagination and re-work my template for your own use. But remember to use all of your social media platforms and tools, and remember to use more than just Facebook and Twitter, and get to know location-based Social Network platforms like Foursquare – then blog and video it all with YouTube and Tout.