Is social media the next BIG thing for the food industry? According to industry insiders the answer is “absolutely”. Not only are restaurants, local farmers and even grocery stores using social media to connect with users and showcase their wares but consumers are leading the way to a new and improved food revolution. As a nationwide social media management firm we are here to say, the near perfect merger between food and social media is only getting started. Don’t believe us? Keep reading to learn how everyone from top chefs to innovative small business owners are combining social media with food to create a recipe for success.
Beyond Restaurant Discounts
The interaction of social media and food has moved beyond the basics; it’s no longer merely about getting a discount to a favorite diner or even hearing reviews from friends and family. Restaurants are showcasing new menu items, increasing awareness via online promotions and using visual sites like Pinterest to drum up interest in the ambiance and environment. But that only tells a small portion of the entire story! Everyone from small farmers to grocery stores are using social media to connect with consumers. In fact, consumers are leading the way when it comes to using social media as a source of inspiration, information and insight into everything food related!
Food, wine and even recipe bloggers in all shapes and sizes are popping up everywhere with something for nearly everyone. Interested in great wine on a budget? Take a look at The Frugal Wine Snob to find the perfect (sub $20) companion to your next dinner party. Need a little more information about how to prepare a Kosher dish? Be sure to visit Kosher Cooking with the Cohens on YouTube. It’s even possible to find an affordable personal chef for a fraction of the cost required to ship frozen foods to your door. In fact, a quick search via Google’s local social section shows several professional services that will purchase groceries, prepare and deliver meals direct to your door every day of the week or simply hire on an as-needed basis for those special holiday get togethers.
The Downside of Social Media & Food
Unfortunately, there is a downside to all this great news. People in food service rarely have time to focus on social media marketing and take care of business. The food industry tends to be highly time sensitive making it even more difficult to keep up with Facebook postings and cultivate a great culinary clientele. Take for example a small local bistro; they implemented a great social media campaign upon opening a few months ago and rapidly gained a dedicated following. Unfortunately, as the business grew it became more and more difficult to post daily menus in a timely manner and business started to slip. The same people that built the business up so quickly also used the daily menu to decide where to take their lunch break; late postings literally resulted in lost business on a daily basis until it was deemed too difficult for staff to keep up with. The solution? A simple matter of outsourcing to a reputable social media management firm.
Best Practices in Social Media & Food
Whether you are a personal gourmet chef, wine blogger or bistro owner chances are social media can build your business like few other opportunities…assuming best practice guidelines are put into effect. Here to help are a few tried and tested tips:
1. Focus on the Environment. The same way that every great restaurant has a certain ambiance, the same should apply to the online environment. Make sure your social media, website and other online areas look good. Invest in good photographs and use visual elements in association with social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest etc whenever possible.
2. Provide information people want. Reduce the time and cost of online phone calls by providing the information and applications people want most. Make sure your business is listed with Google+ local social search, has updated address and contact information and ample client reviews and testimonials. Other relevant information includes menu items, ingredient listings, organic or other pertinent facts especially those pertaining to health related issues such as allergies, salt restriction or healthy eating alternatives.
3. Don’t neglect mobile! People are turning to mobile applications more than ever when it comes to dining out or finding the right food. Provide incentives in the form of a discount or complimentary drink selection for those searching via social media or mobile marketing.
4. Highlight Trends. Every food related field has a few trends; it might be related to a new product, great new ingredient or healthy alternative but whatever the issue be sure to show it off now and then! Use Pinterest to show others what you are up to or create a Google+ presence to spread the word with others.
5. Ask for input! Obtaining client reviews and testimonials is imperative but why stop there? Ask patrons to share their experience with others. Be sure to respond to any negative criticisms in a sensitive and professional manner while also taking the time to thanks those that post positives. Obtain new menu ideas, get feedback on special offers or even inquire into items others would most like to see offered. One of the great ways to use social media is as a feedback mechanism; not only does it build rapport with clients but builds lifelong brand advocates that feel fully invested in your success!