It is a well known fact that a very large part of the population today share all kinds of tips, experiences, gripes, frustrations, laughs, photos and links online. Using websites and smartphone apps like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google+, Urbanspoon, Foursquare, Forkly, Path, Instagram, Pinterest, Foodspotting… where was I? There are just too many to count.
What it amounts to is a massive torrent of information endlessly scrolling past on our screens.
According to a study from last year well over 80% of web users who share content online do so on social networks and blogs. This is often public information available through search engines. When it comes to sharing with friends and colleagues via email (in other words, more private) the number is even higher, a whopping 93%!
A lot of that shared information is pure, unsolicited, honest opinion. Some of that information will be about your restaurant, and your competitors!
Should you worry about this? I’d say no, quite the contrary. You should encourage it!
As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. There is no way you can stop people from sharing opinions and photos of your food and restaurant with their friends, so you might as well spend some time figuring out how to turn it into a marketing opportunity.
Specifically, there are two areas of opportunity (at least…):
The marketing opportunity is fairly straight forward. What you need to do to encourage sharing is mainly related to your website. A few important areas to support, that you can discuss with your web developer:
Consider offering free WiFi in your restaurant to make it as easy as possible for people to share photos and comments on social networks while they are dining. This is a very common practice today.
It goes without saying that you need to make sure your customers have a great experience! Wow them, surprise them, make them feel taken care of. That’s the kind of moments people want to remember, and want to share with their friends online.
When it comes to listening, there are a number of potential benefits. Think of your online customers as a loosely defined focus group, or not so “mystery” diners.
Monitoring their conversations can help you understand which dishes that work, which don’t, if you have service issues recurring on certain days or shifts, if your restrooms are letting you down… You won’t believe the things people share. See it all as intel for improving your game.
Use Google Alerts and tools like HootSuite.com where you can set up automated searches for brand names and keywords to:
While you still can (and perhaps should, to get more data around specific questions) run surveys and comment cards via email or in your restaurant, the unique nature of social media is that people voice their opinions of their own accord. Straight from the horse’s mouth, which means that it will have an honest quality to it, and potentially influence the decisions of those who listen.
Are you monitoring what is said about you online? Which tools do you use for this? What benefits are you gaining from it? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below, or talk to us on Twitter: @Freebookings