Here is an actual discussion that took place on Facebook. It is certainly an example of ‘”critical thinking”, questioning assumptions, and for the most part a very civil discourse on the benefits and deficits of Social Media to the restaurant community. The only parts that were not as civil as they should have been were mine and I apologize for those. In my defense I have been diagnosed with a rare but treatable condition known as “mad fingers” but hopefully I am well on my way to recovery.
My sincere appreciation to Taughnee and Steve for their input as well as there civility.
All comments are unedited with the exception of some spellchecking. I did remove an irrelevant post from the string that was really nothing more than somebody throwing profanity into the mix.
So many great points about guest interaction in your blog! Very well written as well!
Way too early to proclaim foursquare as the Mayor of all things social media or yelp as a meaningful partner in the restaurant business. Both are working diligently to collect consumers of all businesses, not just restaurants. Both seem to be interested in collecting “eyeballs” for whatever purpose.
Serving Social can do a lot to help them focus on good sound marketing practices utilizing web and social.
And, I could not agree more … it is my opinion that as far as mobile and hyper-local/geo-location technology/marketing is concerned — we’ve not yet seen “it”. Will Foursquare be a player a year from now? Two? Meh?
We decided…ed to write about this Chili’s scenario because opened the door to speak about the fundamentals you are talking about: not what is hip and cool in the moment, but on sound fundamentals: good service (along with of course good food, appropriate price/location/atmosphere). And, how online and offline intersect and relate, and how absolutely important it is to invest in those fundamentals (e.g. staff training/empowerment) … why bother throwing money at social media if the customer experience is a total disconnect at the table?
PS … Yelp, to me, is a player now (perhaps not always), if for no other reason than what currently happens in local search. My clients pay me to make sure their sites operate well in search, but Yelp and other directories/review sites often occupy a large portion of that space and can influence consumers. Thoughts?
I don’t think people make decisions as you described either. But, there is an argument that local search has replaced the yellow pages (where people surely made decisions, otherwise restaurants wouldn’t have taken up so much real estate) … so, viewing local search as the modern day yellow pages …
I’m not trying to overstate the importance of local search, your points are totally valid …I agree with you that some people are growing skeptical of review sites (especially Yelp and all of the problems they’ve been dealing with) … and restaurants need to build communities from the inside out (absolutely!). Let’s say that people were *not* growing more skeptical of online reviews … having a strong community is the best way to manage reputation *anyway*.
Anyway thanks for the great chat, really helpful in thinking this all through! I’ll keep you posted if I turn this discussion into a blog post.
August 3 at 1:36pm · LikeUnlike
Interestingly, if I search “Crab Cakes Anchorage”, what pulls my eyes is five yellow stars … 50 ratings on Urban Spoon for Snow City Cafe (a client of mine!)
Interestingly (funnily?) … Snow City Cafe, though, has a really stellar online community and reputation *because* they have a really amazing community of customers offline … this is your point, yes? … great food, great service, great atmosphere, great location, great communications, great community involvement/philanthropy … that translates easily to their online presence. They enjoy scenarios like this in search more because they run a really great restaurant and take really good care of their customers, not because of any “SEO trickery”.
Sorry to get off topic there. lol What fun.
What they DO, though, is go to Google or Yahoo or MSN and type in something like “Cajun food Boise”, or “tex-mex restaurant in Portland”. If you’re a restaurant owner, ESPECIALLY a specialty restaurant, you’d better make damned sure that you know what your customers are searching for, and that you’re somewhere near the top of the list when those results come up.
Not at the present – unless the searcher enters the region they want to search, which most people do now if they’re looking for something local. Proximity search, user preferences, and that sort of thing can only come from a dedicated app – but then you have the hurdles of both signing up businesses to your app, and convincing potential customers that your app is a life-or-death thing to have.
sorry, didn’t mean to write a novelette!!
Lazy? Habitual? Oh yeah that’s exactly the problem that will be solved. When you make it easy for customers to do business with you they will beat a path to your door.
Thank you for your insights.
BTW, not sure if you have seen this but businesses can now respond to reviews directly on Google as well …
Cheers, to both Steve & Mark! ~Taughnee
Thanks for the discussion, we need more like this.
Yes, you can build an eatery or practically any other small business on word-of-mouth, and it IS very important. But that only takes you so far. Getting to the next level involves interacting with your customers in the places they congregate and frequent. And, at least for now, those are the ‘Web 2.0′ community sites, and yes, there are a lot of them and yes, it takes time to monitor and engage.
Taughnee, Your are absolutely right, “no one size fits all”. Thanks for all the discussion.
Now, next steps…how’s your next blog coming along?
Thanks to Taughnee and Steve for their civility, sincerity, and passion.
If you see a Groupon ad on this page it is not because I directed it to be there. It is a result of Groupon’s ambitious marketing and they are probably keying in on the word “restaurant” among others. Feel free to click it, each time that you do will result in a charge to them.