By now, you have realized that your restaurant or brand needs to be active on social platforms, that you need to be monitoring conversations about your brand online and that you need to be building relationships with your guests on social sites. If you didn’t know any of these aspects, or understand the importance of them, let’s have a side conversation about the importance of social media.
Today I want to talk about why your restaurant needs to be evolving in to a social business, one that values social and the insights you can receive from your guests or customers. We, as an industry, need to move beyond thinking that just by using Facebook you have an effective social media strategy or that social media is simply a marketing function. These are the most basic thoughts in social media, but I encourage you to move past thinking of the immediate use of social and think how social data can shape your brand and provide you with valuable insights into what your brand ambassadors (most active users online) are saying.
We have come to realize that the biggest way we all; not just restaurants, but any brand; can utilize social media is paying attention to the data, data, data.
In his April blog entitled, “Don’t Ignore Social Media’s Research Value,” Jay Baer and his guest blogger, Kyle Mensing, provided this statement: “We need to start moving beyond basic-level interactions such as clicking “follow” or “like” and instead start activating fans and asking them to provide richer insights that can help us build wow-worthy products and services.”
Think about it like this, everyday online social users are evaluating experiences, products, services and brands. Each one of these social objects is an insight in to your company. These insights should be harnessed to produce and improve on products and services, resulting in more sales and customers in the door.
As an industry, restaurants spend millions of dollars each year on focus groups, mystery shopping reports and guest surveys. We weigh heavily on these sources to provide us with insight on what items are doing well on our menus, how can we improve service or wait times and how clean our restaurants are, etc. You can gather these same insights by crowd sourcing social data about your brand from online communities and social sites. Social objects provide the best kind of insights because they are un-biased and unsolicited information. There should be a higher value placed on Consumer feedback that is offered up via social sites. When a guest is surveyed or asked for feedback their responses are not organic. They know their answers are being reviewed thus organic social objects heed more unbiased and relevant insight.
Obviously, I’m not saying that if one time a guest in one of your locations says they received horrible service that someone should be fired. What I am saying is that if you notice that month over month your negative Yelp reviews at that location note that poor service was the root of their bad experience, maybe you should have a class with your FOH team to develop and teach better customer service. If a certain dish is always sent back saying the guest did not like it, wouldn’t you think about making a change? The same scenario can happen through social insights. If I notice that several tweets over the last few months state that my guests did not enjoy a certain salmon dish, I think it’s safe to say maybe we should make some adjustments to that recipe.
We are in the industry of serving others and dealing in face-to-face interaction. We’re used to making table touches to check up on our guest’s experiences, and saying goodbye when they are leaving our restaurants. Now, with the emergence of social platforms, these same types of interactions can happen online. Just because they are virtual conversations, does not mean we should place less weight on the severity of the feedback and the immense opportunity to learn from them.
So, I ask you, is your restaurant active on social sites? Are you keeping track of notable comments from guests? What social tools are you using for analytics?