Hi Michael: I just saw this post today (Dec. 21).
My clients are mostly smaller/medium restaurants that are new to social media. I create 'starter' kits for them - setting up the profile, gathering followers and following appropriate local Tweeters. I also start them off with a series of tweets/posts that will help them start a dialog (relevant 'voice' for their business). I then either continue posting for them or train them how to do it themselves.
But the social media that I use and recommend are the basics: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Twitter & Facebook are obvious - most of their customers use it. LinkedIn because the chef and/or owner profiles have recently become important, and they help past employees stay in touch with a constantly moving management pool.
The other tool I recommend is Yelp. Yes, really. We have an active community in the Pac NW that uses is properly. Also Yelp has a lot of free tools that help owners 'see' what is going on with their online presence. (We have a couple of great Yelp community managers that are very visible).
Other than that, I'm sorry to say, is just a lot of static for the small/medium restaurant owner. Foursquare Gowalla, etc. are probably much better for an already very active and larger restaurant.
Contact me if you have questions. I am interested to hear what this survey shows us.
I work with small restaurants as well; social media creates an interesting catch-22. The owners tend to think "why should I pay someone else to set this up; we can do it ourselves." Well, yes, they can of course. But they (generally) aren't. Or if they did, they often don't keep it up. With all the avenues out there for social interaction, I think the key is picking one or two platforms to start, and keep it current. It's a far worse thing to start an account and basically abandon it than to not be on that media at all.
Once they commit to keeping one form up to date and do it successfully, they can move on to another. I know there are people who will sell an aggregator or multiple platform responder, but that can miss the point in my book. Take linking your Twitter and Facebook feeds, for example. If you post the same message to both, you are either shortchanging your FB (by limiting yourself to 140 characters) or forcing your followers to click the link when you push an entry out to the 420 character FB limit. Would you run the identical ad on TV as radio? Of course not - different market segments are being targeted. The same is true of Twitter and FB.
For me, the idea is to get on a platform and use it to build relationships. Get people involved and talking, don't just dump specials on them. Say interesting things, comment on posts and get them to respond. It is SOCIAL media, after all...
Time is always a consideration, not just for restaurant people but any small biz owner. As opposed to blogging (since many people don't think they can write well enough or often enough to support a blog) - try video blogging. I've rec'd it to several clients; yet to have a taker as they are intimidated by having their face out there on the net. Yet their pictures are on the website, they greet customers in person - it really personalizes them. Their character traits (good and bad) can come out on video and people will recognize them more often. Once a week, make a dish on camera. Show a kitchen trick. People will love it!
This whole topic is something I'm passionate about - the tools are there for restaurant folks to build their brand and become fixtures in their communities. Getting them to see it that way and not as another hassle and/or timesuck is another issue entirely... ;-)
In my talks with restaurant owners and managers, Social Media is "too new" or several say they won't pay for it, citing the expense. I counter with what are you using (advertising and marketing wise) ? I further ask, what are you expecting to get that Social Media can't get at a much lower investment (and really time) cost.
I also have asked why all the "coupons" and the ads in the "throw away" newspaper inserts ? I have seen these for years. The response is always "It's what the customer wants (discounts and coupons); we're under contract, on why
they advertise in the throwaway papers. I also know restaurants that will pay thousands of dollars in radio (sometimes television) each year, expecting the same result.
I remember(motivational speaker) Tony Robbins saying something about a bug on the windshield. I think the same analogy applies to restaurants and the lack of accepting Social Media in mainstream marketing efforts.
First of all we set up the basic social media sites and linked them together. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a blog. We manage their sites, posting interesting events, beautiful pictures of the scenery, pictures of the guest and employees and videos of the work being done. This helps to keep Cooks Lobster House in front its customers. It keeps the customer interested and feeling that they are a part of the business.
Joining community organizations and giving your time to help the the area that you do business in can generate big rewards. Cook’s Lobster House was awarded the Mid Coast Maine Big Business of The Year Award in 2010. That award came about because Social Media Connected kept Cook’s Lobster House connected with the chamber and promoted Cooks as deserving the award. Cooks deserved the award but would not have been recognized if they had not been involved and committed to the community. Networking, meeting the people that also do business in your area can lead to great contacts and increased business traffic.
One of the things that I have found that has helped to drive traffic to Cooks Lobster House is showing the area that surrounds them including the natural beauty and the local businesses that the guest might be able to enjoy while visiting Cook’s.
The use of blogs for highlighting the walking trails of the area draws a great deal of interest as well as the blog that lists the hotels, campgrounds, and Inns in the area. Give your prospective customer more reasons for using your business. Make sure to provide links to and from all of your sites so you don’t lose them.
People love to belong, to have a sense of being an important part of something. To help the guests of Cook’s feel that sense of importance we created a club that gives rewards and incentives for frequenting Cook’s. This is a great tool for Cooks because it allows the employees and management to get personal with the guest, learning their names and obtaining their emails for newsletters.
Social Media is being social. It takes commitment and a belief that you have a product that the public wants. Engage and show off your company as much as you can through the many channels available to you and don’t forget to LISTEN to your customers.
Social Media means interacting with guest and community both on line using the latest sites like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Linkedin, Youtube, Flicker and email lists. Social media also refers to face to face interaction with the guest and community. Joining local organizations like the chamber, business groups and associations.
For more information or help with your social media setup visit my site at: Social Media Connected
Social media is a powerful tool in marketing, especially since everyone is on the internet now. I wouldn't recommend just one marketing channel online, but I would recommend a variety of use to help make the brand or service more familiar with the audience. Recently, I just went onto youtube to watch some spoof videos with some friends and FastCasual came up in an advertisement before the video (i've heard of fastcasual, and this imagery made it more comfortable for me to join). Also, There are plenty of ways to draw in more foot traffic to a concrete location, with Facebooks "checking-in" application you could try to make a contest like Dunkin Donuts did with offering coupons to those who just "check-in" and create more awareness of your website or retail location. Its all about create brand ambassadors, not just brand loyalty, but people who sell your product simply because they love it.
Not sure if this helped answer your question. The most you should do to promote your brand or service is to talk about it on all platforms of marketing. (twitter, facebook, linkedin, forums, blogs, whatever gets the audience minds engaging in your product.