By Laura Lake, About.com Guide
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the President of an international food chain and discuss social media. He understood the importance, but like most executives wasn’t sure how to turn social marketing into social commerce. I was happy to share with him some of my thoughts and ideas. We discussed the restaurant and entertainment industries that are doing it well and how he could use it to increase traffic and create brand awareness as well as customer loyalty.
Why does social media work well within the restaurant and entertainment industry? That’s a question that has an answer that is somewhat obvious. The reason social media works well is because we attend restaurants and entertainment districts to be social and interact. Those who enjoy these venues also enjoy social media.
There are many ways that social media can be turned into social commerce and I’m going to share with you a few of them.
You can use social media to:
•Engage and interact with existing customers and patrons.
•Introduce events and new menu items as well as specials.
•Gain feedback on menu items and events.
I often receive the question, “Laura, I understand social media is important, but how does it make me money?” I hear you. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, social media takes time to turn non-revenue producing activities into revenue producing activities, but it can and it does happen. Consider the following things that social media can do to help in saving time, money and resources therefore increasing revenue:
1.Gaining feedback and insight on service, events and menu items
2.Promote events or new menu items and specials
3.Encourage trials by offering specials and discounts
4.Using employees as your own brand ambassadors that spread the word about your brand
5.Having a direct dialogue with your current customers and potentially reaching new ones
6.Updating customers and your community on new projects, such as new openings or remodels
7.Increase excitement and foot traffic by sharing information, such as contests and giveaways
8.Use social media to connect with your franchises and create an online support community
10.Monitor reputation and provide complaint resolutions
Let me give you an example of a how a small local bar experienced success using social media. I was talking to the manager and I asked him “what’s your slowest night?” He responded by telling me Tuesday was his slowest night. I could understand that. I said what if I could fill this place up with people on a Tuesday night and it didn’t cost you a dime? Of course, he jumped at the opportunity and by using social media we filled the neighborhood bar with 40 people on a Tuesday night and I’m sure he would tell you it was the best Tuesday night he has had since they opened.
There are many things you can use social media for, but the ultimate goal is to move it into a social commerce for your business. This will take time and effort, but it can be done and be successful. It’s a mistake to overlook the opportunity that social media brings to the entertainment and restaurant industry. As I left our meeting I saw the glimmer in his eye and could tell he had that “a-ha” moment!