The popularity of social networks like Facebook and Twitter has transformed the marketing landscape for restaurant operators. One-way mass marketing has given way to close, even individualized, engagement with brands online, where “brand lovers” share their experiences with family, friends, and the world at large. For companies, social networks represent an enormous opportunity to tell their stories and to enable customers to share and amplify theirs with Tweets, Pins, Instagram photos, and other multimedia content. In embracing social media, marketers must strive to remain responsive, upbeat, honest, concise, and true to their brands.
Prior to today’s audience of interconnected networks of consumers, the media marketing was one-way… from TV broadcast, to cable channel segments, to the introduction of the internet.
Now, in the 2010’s, social networks are transforming the brand marketing landscape, replacing one-way broadcasts with many-to-many conversations, and sharing consumers’ personal experiences, both good and bad. And measurements are moving from media impressions to consumer expressions that have significant impact on the perception of brands with other consumers. As a consequence, the very definition of a brand is shifting. Previously, a brand could be defined as the sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, pricing, reputation, and advertising. Today, a brand is:
A collection of stories about the experience with your product or service that people share with their friends, family, and social networks.
Given the emphasis on stories and sharing, Coca-Cola developed a set of hallmarks for effective marketing in this environment— its “Social
4-Pack,” which consists of:
We’ve covered each of these topics in-depth.
Restaurants can create “brand love” for their dining experiences. “Brand love” is “loyalty beyond reason,” when consumers go out of their way to praise a product or service, purchase it more frequently, and recommend it to their friends. What can restaurants do via social networks to promote this passion?
- Stay positive. Keep all communication upbeat, and resist the temptation to respond defensively to an angry consumer.
Coca-Cola has found that its Facebook fans deal effectively with negative posts.
- Leverage multimedia. Foodservice is inherently visual, so restaurants have lots of potential video and photographic material, and they can encourage customers to upload their own. In an upcoming campaign, Firehouse Subs will donate a dollar to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation for every customer picture of its famous pickle buckets.
- Keep it short. Maintain a consistent brand tone and be succinct. Include a question or other call to action in every post. Twitter is the ultimate platform for brief brand messages and near real-time conversation.
- Be honest. When a mistake is made, admit it and move on. Trying to erase it from the Web will only backfire.
- Be social. Communicate on all platforms every day, and mention partners whenever possible. Try to respond to all contributors, whether positive or negative. Red Mango has a four-member social media team that manages to respond to nearly every post.
Because dining is a social activity, it naturally lends itself to the immediacy and fun of real-time smartphone Tweets and photo uploads. With social networks, restaurants enable a customer to extend and share his or her dining experience with friends, family, and the restaurant operator. A compliment or criticism online is just as important or valuable as a compliment or criticism given during an actual meal in a dining establishment.
To hear the full webinar on spreading brand love with Coca-Cola and two experienced foodservice operators, please click here.