Your restaurant is well established on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, but what about the onslaught of newly-popular social media outlets? Pinterest, Foodspotting, foursquare, and FohBoh all cater to food or restaurants. Pinterest and Foodspotting both revolve around pictures, which we all know is a strong way to sell your restaurant’s fresh, beautiful delicacies. Brands are already marketing through these lesser-known venues, so don’t be the last one on board!
What is it: Users download a tool for their browser that allows them to “pin” interesting images to Pinterest, a virtual pin board. Everything is organized into sections on the site, and users can comment and “re-pin” the things they like. Pinterest users are mostly women, but brands are beginning to crop up on the photo-sharing social media site.
Social Power: Viewers can look at pictures instantly upon visiting the site without creating an account. With over 11 million unique monthly visitors, that’s a lot of hungry eyes on your restaurant’s food.
Time commitment: 30minutes/week
What to do: Create boards with your most spectacular dishes, and then use the images to link back to your restaurant website or your menu. Pinterest etiquette asks that users refrain from self-promotion, and pictures must be interesting if you want them commented on or re-pinned, so post pictures of restaurant dishes and events that are truly spectacular or beautiful. This is a social site that hasn’t been fully broken into by brands, so it’s still fresh and popular (the site is “invitation only” right now, making it a big deal, but you can request an invitation and it arrives in a couple days). Check out Austin-based Mama Fu’s Asian House Pinterest spread: it’s a nice balance of food, personality, and other creative ideas.
What it is: Something about a big, beautiful restaurant meal makes people take out their phones and snap pictures. Foodspotting takes these pictures and makes them accessible, so people can post and view restaurant food.
Social Power: Since Facebook began the Timeline layout back in January, its support of Foodspotting has doubled monthly users. More people are adding Foodspotting as an App to their Facebook page.
Time commitment: 30 minutes every month
What to do: Create an account for yourself and go to “Create a Guide.” On the right, you’ll see your options as a small business. Take a few pictures of your most mouth-watering dishes, and upload them to Foodspotting under your restaurant (you may have to register your restaurant as a place). This will bring Foodspotting users into your restaurant and inspire them to post their own pictures, boosting your presence on the App. It differs from Pinterest by specializing in restaurants-only, and giving restaurants the interactive option of creating guides: rewarding guests who snap pictures of the items with prizes. Look at how San Francisco’s Nombe did it. Connect your Foodspotting account to your restaurant’s Twitter and Facebook to give your pictures more social punch.
What it is: We love knowing where people are and what they’re doing. Now, thanks to GPS-enabled smartphones and foursquare, we can. Users “check-in” to businesses to notify their foursquare followers where they are, and then have access to comments other people have made. Upon check-in, or by search, foursquare promotes “specials:” deals that can be redeemed only if you check in through foursquare.
Social Power: Since launching in 2009, foursquare has amassed 15 million people world wide and 750,000 businesses. It hurts to ignore a crowd that big, and every check-in delivers valuable demographic information through the merchant dashboard.
Time commitment: 30 minutes/week
What to do: Make a foursquare account and claim your venue. From there, you can offer specials to foursquare users. Ideas that have worked for other businesses are discounts, special treatment, or rewarding repeat business. You can run multiple specials at once, and they go live instantly. This is the perfect solution for a slow afternoon: throw up a special and inspire local foursquarians to make a beeline for your restaurant. See how AJ Bombers in Milwaukee leveraged foursquare’s interactive nature and his customers’ loyalty to boost his Sunday sales.
What it is: Think of FohBoh as the Facebook of the restaurant industry: users make personal accounts to establish networks and interact on FohBoh’s forums. Anyone can post to the FohBoh Community Blog, making it a great resource for varying opinions and updates.
Social Power: Most of FohBoh’s users are vendors. This is a great place to shop around, learn about, and contact suppliers and services.
Time commitment: 15 minutes/week
What to do: Create a personal account and select your community (Restaurant, Chef, or Wine) to check out the latest blog posts. While most of the members are vendors, they still blog about useful and interesting things, and FohBoh gathers them all together like a social media vendor catalogue for you to browse. If your restaurant business throws a curve at you that leaves you guessing, post a question on the Forums for quality advice from people who’ve been through it before. Check back at your leisure to keep in the loop.