It‘s understandable not every business was going to jump on the social media bandwagon right from the get go, it’s scary being a leader and innovative. Some need case studies to examine before consideration; others would rather sit on the sidelines observing the competition before joining the party. All this makes sense, who knew Facebook would grow to over 500M accounts and location-based applications would become so popular?
When I think about which industries could easily take advantage of the latest tools and technology, none come to mind more than the food industry including: restaurants, bars, culinary tours, catering companies, and the like. The ability to share exquisite photos, videos, blogs, specials, etc. and get community involvement before, during, and after the sale make for simple implementation once you get the basics down. While we’re starting to see more adoption by those in the food industry, too many missed opportunities are still occurring.
Location-based applications like Foursquare and Gowalla are starting to have real impact for brick and mortar companies as reported by SmartBlog on Restaurants. As more and more businesses learn how to manage customer reward programs and mobile marketing, others will quickly jump on board. As it is, we’re seeing rapid growth on Foursquare:
Most of today’s top celebrity chefs are on Twitter ranging from Bobby Flay to Rachel Ray. They’re quickly learning that one of the best ways to garner interest is to connect with the masses by removing the gatekeepers and share their behind the scene updates. Watching a program on the food network is no longer a solo activity. Find your favorite foodies to discuss Iron Chef, Mission Impossible, and Next Food Network Star in real-time on Twitter, Hulu, or some other food chat site. Not to be forgotten in all of this is the advertising opportunities available targeting a market clearly interested in all things food.
Below are some tips and suggestions on possible social media strategies for those in the food industry. What’s important to understand is how quickly technology is changing, thus requiring a need to stay informed by ‘playing’ in the space or hiring someone who is already doing it.
- Find out who is talking about your Brand online through various search criteria
- Create a strategy on how your Brand will interact with supporters, advocates, and those complaining
- Determine which platforms are best suited for your Brand and spend the most time there
- Automate your listening by keywords and location
- Consider if a blog makes sense in your overall strategy
- Examine if creating a YouTube site makes sense to house videos
- Encourage customers to review their experience on Yelp and other similar sites
- Share high quality photos of your food
- Figure out if you can implement a ‘customer contest’ promotion
- Utilize location-based applications, reward patrons who frequent your location the most
- Organize ‘Eat-ups’ to create buzz, exposure, and community involvement
- Start a newsletter
- Develop a Facebook Page for your Brand
While the list above is not comprehensive, it should provide plenty of ideas to get started. The decision to continue waiting will only delay potential growth and benefits. If there is currently nobody within your organization who has the technical ability and understanding to pull this off, consider hiring a consultant or a full time employee. The cost of not getting involved is something you can’t afford much longer.
You can have your cake and eat it too!