You've Got Them Talking......Now What?

If you are anything like me, you like to dig into things. The more I look into, the more I learn. The more I learn, the better job my firm can do for our restaurant partners.

One thing I always find curious when I'm digging around the internet, is when I see a restaurant's social media property, where they have a fairly large group of fans or followers. You see, not only do they have a large group of these folks, but the people are actually actively posting and interacting with the restaurant. Why is this interesting to me? It's because they aren't "truly" interacting, because the restaurant, in general, is hardly, if ever, responding to anything the fans put up on their pages, on review pages, or just posts in general, throughout the internet.

The obvious question here is this:

If you have worked so hard to make sure your food is spectacular, your service is on point and your customers rave about you, when they go online to rave to others, why wouldn't you validate their input (good or bad), and get in on the conversation?

Surely you can see the problem with this. As to the "why" this might happen, while it's hard to simply guess, it could likely be one of three reasons:

1) The restaurant simply doesn't care to get involved

2) The restaurant is too busy, or small to delegate this task to someone

3) The restaurant isn't sure what the best practices would be for interacting online with fans and customers

If you restaurant's reason falls in #1, or #2, just save your time and stop reading this article, and go to the article I posted two weeks ago about outsourcing your restaurant's .... If though, you fall in the #3 category, here are a couple helpful tips that can get you on the path to interACTION:

1) Listen to your audience and engage them in conversation

Listening to your audience and engaging them is critically important for many reasons. If for no other reason, you choose to start engaging your audience and listening to them, do it to simply validate them. If I am a fan of your restaurant and I post on my twitter feed, how much I liked dining in your restaurant, a response of "thanks for dining with us", a "what did you have to eat?", or even just something as simple as a retweet, will make me exponentially happier about the dining experience that I just had. Why? Because the restaurant didn't just care about me, during the moment I was dining with them and spending money. They actually cared about me afterwards, when I'm no longer there, in front of them.

Something as simple as a "thank you" can solidify a relationship and build loyalty, frankly in a way that money can't buy.

But what if they post something bad? What if their food was sub par? What if they had a bad experience with your staff? Or what if they are just psycho and spend their days trolling the internet to make people feel bad about themselves? The same applies.

Validate their critique, and engage them to get down to the bottom of what happened. Do this publicly and not via direct messages or emails. Everybody can have a bad day once in a while. If you publicly "own it", and work actively to remedy the situation for the diner in question, everyone will see this and it will reinforce in their minds that you are all about customer service and loyalty.

Now what should you do if the person is just a psycho that gets a thrill from being a "keyboard tough guy"? Do nothing different. Give it your best couple of attempts to remedy the situation, in the most accommodating, polite fashion possible. Even if they are totally upset, a sane person will realize you are trying, and even if it doesn't totally make up for the bad experience, they will still say thanks. An insane person, on the other hand will never be happy and will never stop poking at you, every time you try to offer them an apology, or peace offering. All you can do is leave the interactions online, and let public opinion prevail. The public is smart. They will see that this person is impossible to deal with and they will not put any weight on their posts.

The important thing to remember is that unless it's inflammatory (e.g. racial slurs, offensive content, something illegal, etc.), do not delete it from your fan page, blog, google+ page, etc. It will upset people, make you look like you don't care about their feelings, and that is going to come back to haunt you.

2) Your patrons are more and more becoming the voice of your brand

Another reason to engage your audience is because of the way the restaurant, and that restaurant's voice, is changing. There is an interesting phenomenon going on, because of social media, where the restaurant's voice is more and more being dictated by the sentiments of it's regular diners. Diners take to social media and review sites and comment, not only about the experience they had, but the ambiance of the restaurant, the decor, the staff, the other patrons, the programming that may be on TV, the music selection, etc. In other words, EVERYTHING.

If you ignore everything that people post about your restaurant online, you will miss key opportunities to truly hear what people think about your restaurant. Not just your food, but even things you may not notice. You have undoubtedly worked very hard on your restaurant. As with everything though, sometimes your head is "so deep" in things that you fail to notice the little things. For instance, maybe the lighting in your restaurant is a little harsh. Let your diners be that second set of eyes that can help you make your restaurant the best experience possible. Not only that, but again, thank that person for their input, and you'll have a diner for life.

Now, does this mean that you should do everything that people suggest online, letting them completely dictate the voice and direction of your restaurant? Of course not. If though, you listen to your diners, with an open mind, you'll be amazed at some of the fantastic suggestions that will come your way.

Engaging your diners will give you huge returns in the long run. It requires persistence and dedication. For a busy restaurant owner, this could be challenging, but it's not impossible. There are many tools out there that will make it easier for you to keep tabs on all your social media properties, and many firms, like mine, out there that can help you, if you determine that you simply can't keep up with this.

Do you have any specific stories of how engaging a customer has made them a loyal customer that will never leave you? Do you have any review horror stories? What are they and how did you deal with them? I'd love to hear.

If you need help managing your social media, diner loyalty or restaurant marketing programs, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Views: 198

Tags: branding, engaging, management, marketing, media, restaurant, reviews, social, voice, yelp


You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh




Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


Red Lobster crafts new, high-end image

Red Lobster will nix low-price specials and focus on flourishes like plating in order to reshape itself as a cut above dine-i -More

The Year of the Instagram Strategy
Managing the Instagram channel has become a strategic imperative for any brand or small business, and the urgency grows daily along with its user base. During this webinar on August 12 you'll hear how brands such as Disneyland Resort, JCPenney, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are utilizing this platform to connect with their customers in an authentic, relevant way. Register today!

The tweet's the thing

Everyone’s atwitter about the NRA's Kids LiveWell Twitter party, held in celebration of the program’s third anniv -More

Arby's meaty campaign highlights protein lineup

Arby's new campaign, "We have the meats!," focuses on the chain's new limited-time menu offering, the Mega Meat Stack, which  -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $50 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Restaurant Trends - Growing And Emerging Concepts - Change and Activity July 29, 2014

Update from on growing and emerging restaurant concepts

Gen Z, the First True Digital Generation, Represents the Future Foodservice Consumer

Gen Z, the first true digital generation, represents the future foodservice consumer. They're a generation on the move that strongly prioritizes speed of service, technology, and having what they want, when they want it. Millennials, more so than older generations, prefer to visit restaurants that offer new and unique foods and flavors. Gen X and Boomers converge on several preferences—such as the importance of a convenient location.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Celebrates Its 500th New Restaurant Opening

Red Robin's 500th new restaurant opening will open on Aug. 4 at 11 a.m., in Milpitas, Calif. at the Great Mall of the Bay Area.

Darden Completes Sale Of Red Lobster To Golden Gate Capital

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) and Golden Gate Capital today announced that Golden Gate has completed the acquisition of the Red Lobster business and certain other related assets and assumed liabilities for approximately $2.1 billion in cash.

Dunkin' Donuts Announces Plans For Seven New Restaurants In Duluth, Minnesota With New Franchisees Brian And Sharon Weidendorf

Dunkin' Donuts announced today the signing of a multi-unit store development agreement with new franchisees, Brian and Sharon Weidendorf, to develop seven restaurants in Duluth, Minnesota and the surrounding areas. The first restaurant is planned to open in spring 2015.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Ze Frank: Are you human? - Ze Frank (2014)

Have you ever wondered: Am I a human being? Ze Frank suggests a series of simple questions that will determine this. Please relax and follow the prompts. Let's begin …

TED: Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime - Heather Barnett (2014)

Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.

TED: Shih Chieh Huang: Sculptures that’d be at home in the deep sea - Shih Chieh Huang (2014)

When he was young, artist Shih Chieh Huang loved taking toys apart and perusing the aisles of night markets in Taiwan for unexpected objects. Today, this TED Fellow creates madcap sculptures that seem to have a life of their own—with eyes that blink, tentacles that unfurl and parts that light up like bioluminescent sea creatures.

TED: Nikolai Begg: A tool to fix one of the most dangerous moments in surgery - Nikolai Begg (2013)

Surgeons are required every day to puncture human skin before procedures — with the risk of damaging what's on the other side. In a fascinating talk, find out how mechanical engineer Nikolai Begg is using physics to update an important medical device, called the trocar, and improve one of the most dangerous moments in many common surgeries.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service