Content curation – how showing off your expertise and great taste can generate business in your restaurant

[Yes, it's another Pinterest post. Hopefully I add something new to the discussion by giving a bit of background. // Manne]

Lately there has been a lot of talk about “content curation” in online marketing circles. In this post I’ll explain what it is, why it is useful, and introduce a great tool for curating content either for your own amusement or to try and drive more traffic to your restaurant.

Personally I have been a fan of curation for a long time, as it is perhaps the best way to find great information on hot as well as niche topics: find a person (or a group of people) with true passion and knowledge on something, follow them on their blog / Tumblr / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / LinkedIn and read the links they share as they curate information on their favorite topic… Beats any search engine.

“Curation” in this context is not about making ham, it is simply a fancy way of saying “collection of great stuff”. It then follows that a “content curator” is a person who (for our purposes today typically browsing the web) discerningly collects great stuff on a given topic. This may or may not be seen as “great stuff” to you, but rest assured it will to someone.

What has this to do with online marketing though, I hear you ask. Well, it’s quite simple.

Say you are in the business of selling widgets. The world is full of people looking for widgets, but with the current state of search engines (not working that well to find the latest / coolest / most popular widgets) a person who takes the time to build an online collection of great widgets from the best and most exciting widget makers can attract a lot of visitors as the word spreads.

Leverage the power of social media to spread links and build a community around your widget collection, and you have a valuable marketing asset.

Summing it up: By collecting and talking about widgets you attract people interested in widgets, which creates a great opportunity to sell widgets off the back of your widget collection.

There are several tools out there to help people curate content. Names that spring to mind are:

  1. Paper.liNews.me and Flipboard – these services automatically curate a “magazine” of news articles, photos and videos shared by people you follow on for example Twitter and Facebook. The most shared links are assigned the highest score, and the most popular ones make it into your personal magazine. By carefully choosing who you follow, this magazine will become highly tailored to the topics people talk about. Unique to Paper.li is that you can have your magazine published daily on their website.
  2. Tumblr – personal blogging platform, optimized for the users to share snippets of content, photos and video. You can create a Tumblog for any topic, and start manually curating content on the cutest Wall Street occupierspop culture nostalgiauseful charts and diagrams, anything. No, seriously: anything.
  3. Pinterest – the hottest curation website right now. While only on the radar of most for the past six months, this website already drives more traffic to other sites than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. No wonder it has caught the attention of online marketers everywhere. Rather than summing it up, I’ll elaborate on Pinterest in the rest of this post as I find it so well suited for the highly visual restaurant trade. Yeah, I know that last sentence sounds like gibberish. Read on.

Most people have a topic they care deeply about. Looking at the restaurant world, I know a lot of restaurant owners and chefs who are deeply fascinated by food and unique ingredients (obviously); fancy wines or wines with interesting bottles and labels; interior design and pieces of furniture; fashion and style…

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a place to save links to all the things you find and read about though? A place that highlighted the photos and videos, making it so much easier to go back and find various things again, rather than just little snippets of text?

This is exactly what Pinterest does. In short: Pinterest gives people a creative and beautiful looking outlet to save their finds, and in the process also publish them online making it easier for others of a similar persuasion to find the great stuff (this is where the marketing part comes in).

How does Pinterest work?

Pinterest is a website where registered users can save links to things they like. They do this by first creating a “board” for the topic, like a notice board or mood board, and then “pinning” photos or videos from the web pages they want to save to these boards. Or “re-pinning” stuff other people have saved to Pinterest (yes, it can get a bit circular…).

A board can for example be “Restaurants in New York I recommend” or “Amazing tattoo designs“. It could of course also be “Dishes we’d like to cook” or “Great kitchen tools”, “Italian wines with quirky labels”, “Our staff picks favourite restaurants”, “Spring ingredients”…

Above you see my profile on Pinterest, and each “square” is a link to a board which when clicked reveals a number of photos or videos that I have collected under headings that interest me.

You can also follow other people on Pinterest, and if you do your start page will show you what those people are pinning and re-pinning, providing you with a veritable stream of exciting imagery feeding your imagination and creativity.

This ability to follow others, and comment on, “like”, and re-pin what people are pinning makes Pinterest a very social tool. Beautiful images or brilliant videos can spread incredibly quickly and put the links to the pages holding those images in front of a lot of people.

Note: Since a link can only be saved to Pinterest if it has a photo or video on the page, it’s all about the visuals! In other words, Pinterest is not a place for crappy out of focus photos or stock photography. As the makers of the site put it: “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.”

Which food and restaurant brands are already using Pinterest?

Already brands are exploring Pinterest to try and add value to their operations. A few noteworthy examples to study are:

  1. Mama Fu’s
  2. Whole Foods Market
  3. Red Mango
  4. Dunkin’ Donuts
  5. Panera Bread

Looking at these you will find that one thing they all have in common is that they are trying to tell a story. That story is not just about what they sell, it’s a story about them as a company, about their customers, about their employees. Things they care about and find interesting.

How to use Pinterest for your restaurant

There are two main aspects to Pinterest for brands:

  1. Make sure what you do and publish on your website is “pinnable”, so people already on Pinterest can share great stuff about your brand:
    • Use amazing photos (or videos) and make sure they can easily be pinned. Create an account on Pinterest to learn how to do pin things, and try it on your own website photos to see if your website is “Pinterest ready”…
    • Add the “Pin this” button to pages you specifically want to encourage people to pin photos from.
    • Make sure photos that are pinned always lead to a great looking web page on your site, and make sure that page in turn tries to lead people on to explore more about your place – show links to your menu, or to make a reservation. Once you have the visitor’s attention, try to make something of it!
  2. If you decide to have an active Pinterest profile, make sure you use it in a way that is likely to resonate with the people you want to attract:
    • I’ll say it again: use amazing visual content!
    • Link to your Pinterest page from your website, share links to boards and pins on Facebook and Twitter to show the world what you are collecting. Pro tip: you can add Pinterest to your Facebook Timeline by connecting your accounts, making your pins really visible to your Facebook fans.
    • Tell a story, don’t just drone on about your products.
    • Even of you do tell a story, don’t just post photos of your food. Go beyond food, to other areas of interest that you feel shows what your restaurant is about.
    • Be active, like the photos of others, re-pin other stuff you like and appreciate. Show there are real people behind your restaurant name, and show what you care about.

Pinterest, through being so visual, creates a very emotive atmosphere. People go on Pinterest to be wowed, to learn new things and explore concepts that fascinate them.

Take this opportunity to blow life in your brand, connect with your customers in a completely different way than what Twitter or Facebook can offer.

Don’t be afraid to pin photos and videos about brands you may see as competitors. Re-pin photos of dishes and interiors from other restaurants, be that resource for photos of a certain type that attracts the right people. So what if you occasionally lead a fellow Pinterest member off to a different website than your own, at the end of the day they will remember you as the source where they find that particular photo or link that wows them.

Show confidence in your restaurant, share the things that truly wow you, and provide the entertainment people are looking for. After all, shared joy is double the joy, right?

Keep in mind that Pinterest also provides yet another way to see what your customers like. Did that photo of your rib-eye steak get liked and re-pinned way beyond your other photos? There might be an interesting insight there…

Aside from your own pin boards, what else are people pinning? Are their obvious areas of interest among your customers and online fans? Perhaps you’ll learn things about your fans that you never knew, that will help you talk to them in a more interesting way or improve your marketing reach.

For some further reading on how Pinterest works and how other brands are using it to drive business, check out these great articles:

  1. 7 Creative Ways Your Brand Can Use Pinterest
  2. Chobani Yogurt Tickles The Tastes Of Pinterest Addicts, And So Can ...
  3. Introducing Pin baits – time for tangible business strategies for P...

If you do start using Pinterest, let us know the link to your boards in the comments (or tweet us on Twitter @Freebookings), we’d love to learn more about what gets your creative juices flowing…!

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Tags: content, curation, marketing, online, pinterest

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