The Blog

Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 10th March 2011

12 Social Strategies for Restaurants

A nice little article today in the New York Times column “You’re the Boss”. My sometime collaborator Zachary Cohen was interviewed with several others about what social media strategies work best in the restaurant industry.

Some of these seem like the obvious “duh” strategies you should already be working on, but perhaps there are a few pearls of wisdom you may not have considered.

  1. Register with Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp. Now.
  2. Tweet something clever or informative at least twice a day.
  3. Take advantage of Yelp announcements.
  4. Use OpenTable’s e-mail blast every holiday.
  5. Keep the dialogue alive. Listen andrespond.
  6. Scrape the blogosphere with HootSuite.
  7. Avoid advertising, now considered “a contrarian indicator.”
  8. Understand that an older audience is a different audience.
  9. Put your e-mail signature and Web link on every communication.
  10. Sign up Google Analytics to assay progress.
  11. Engage a marketing strategist for a finite amount of time; then ween yourself from said marketing strategist.
  12. Find someone in-house to monitor the daily cycles, communiqués, correspondences, and crises.

Read the full article on nytimes.com here »

Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 27th February 2011

Host a pub crawl using Twitter

Magic Hat Twitter Pub CrawlHere in wintery Burlington, Vermont, we are lucky to have a social-friendly brewery keeping their name out there locally. Also distributed nationally, Magic Hat Brewery has been creating fun events for its local fans for years. In 2010 they put on a Twitter Pub Crawl that took place among at least a dozen downtown hot spots. All that was required was a smart phone with a Twitter app for at least one of the team members.

Teams of four signed up with a $20 fee, all of which was donated to the local homeless shelter. They also gave away standard swag already on hand, like t-shirts and key chains. Magic Hat’s swag is something to covet – very hip and cool, so it was well received in their branded bags. To top off the rewards for participation, the grand prize included 4 round trip tickets anywhere Jet Blue flies. This was a great move on their part to drum up competition and ‘pub crawler’ sign ups.

Like a massive roaming tweet up

The contest portion of the pub crawl involved following timed tweets using a specific hash tag (their local Burlington tag #MagicHatBTV,) directing crawlers to find the next secret hot spot via trivia about the various bars along the route. Collect receipts from all the trivia tweets, and be the first to arrive back at the designated headquarters (a bigger lounge that could handle all 160 + participants!) was entered into the drawing for the Jet Blue tickets.

The event seemed to go off without a hitch, and exclusively used social media to organize, promote and conduct – start to finish. Low cost, but highly organized and memorable to all who participated. Like a massive roaming tweet up, revelers met local people in person that they follow on Twitter.

Not only were participants feverishly checking for the latest Twitter update via hashtag, most were taking a moment to check in on their favorite location app like Foursquare and GoWalla. This year, we’ll all be checking in with Facebook Places, too. What a great way to garner free marketing for the participating pubs, bars and restaurants along the pub crawl route.

Learn how its done

Magic Hat is putting it on again for 2011 and I can’t wait! Take a look at how the pub crawls works on Magic Hat’s website »

Why not adopt a pub crawl for your own downtown? Its fun, exposes people to new places and shows your locals that you are very social and enjoy crafting a good time for them.

From my own experience – even though I live downtown – I had not visited half of the pubs and bars before the Twitter Pub Crawl. But I have since…

Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 1st February 2011

Social Media Toolbox for Hospitality

I recently had an opportunity to talk to the Hospitality Management students at Champlain College here in Burlington, Vermont. The audience was very receptive, and I was surprised at how much college students don’t know about social media.

There I was, a little anxious about boring them to death, but their social networking worlds rarely extended past Facebook profiles, not the Facebook fan pages and Twitter engagement I had assumed.

Not only was I a guest speaker, my presentation was to be a surprise wrench thrown into their final projects for the semester. To explore how using social media could be a boon for their imaginary business plans for hotels, resorts and restaurants.

Below is the presentation with tidbits of Twitter for Restaurants strung throughout. You can view it on SlideShare here »

Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 3rd January 2011

Foodspotting and the restaurant business

Paul Barron (@paulbarron) of SocialCoco.com conducts a great interview with Foodspotting’s (yes that awesome iPhone app) Alexa Andrzejewski (@foodspotting and @lexylady). They talk about how Foodspotting has surpassed 500,000 users and why its a boon to restaurants by being a trusted and motivational resource for resto recommendations and more. Users can now follow other users, experts (like Zagat and the Travel Channel), places, foods. All through integrated marketing.

Paul and Alexa are some great takeaways for restaurants like rewards, making custom guides, and general great ideas for getting on board and getting the word out about your resto with this fun location app.

Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 22nd November 2010

The incredible fun of a restaurant contest

This menu ‘treasure hunt’ contest created by Canlis Restaurant in Seattle is inspiring, exciting and has drummed up a ton of interest in the community. Using only social media, the owners send out clues to the whereabouts of assorted menus from the 1950′s. The clues are clever, difficult and require instant mobility to get to the treasure first. The winners of each menu win dinner at Canlis for the price of that dinner in the 1950′s. Its a pretty big deal. And judging by the ecstatic response from the person that found the menu today (end of video) – its a big hit.

Watch and listen to Canlis co-owner Brian Canlis (@bcanlis) explain the contest on AuroraSeattle.com

Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 12th November 2010

How marketers are using Social Media today

Here’s a great infographic from Flowtown that visually captures data from big companies as well as small businesses. How are marketers using social sedia apps as part of their overall marketing toolbox? What are people still looking for guidance on? What applications and how much time?

It appears some data was pulled from folks who don’t use social media at all (1% do not plan to use at all in their marketing plan!)

(click image for full size view)
Everybody’s Doing It: How Marketers Are Utilizing Social Media In 2010

Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 11th September 2010

Foursquare strategy for business

Created by Ogilvy, this Slideshare is packed with interesting Foursquare statistics, explanations, insights and do-able strategies relevant to all businesses. But especially restaurants. After flipping through the slide show, check out the transcript below the show’s comment area. Near the very end are web addresses for other very useful Foursquare articles.

Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 29th July 2010

This awesome website: Giraffe

Giraffe Restaurants

Giraffe Restaurants, twitter for restaurants, restaurant website designGiraffe is a UK chain of 35+ restaurants catering to the family-friendly crowd. The corporate website is appealing to kids and adults alike, with big, juicy graphics, images and calls-to-action.

Massive eye candy

They’ve gone the extra mile to entice visitors to dig in and explore the site with games, giraffe trivia, their community efforts and more. All the while making it easy to navigate, sign up for newsletters, join their social communities, and shop for branded merchandise and gift cards.

Giraffe goes far beyond the boring ol’ text menu and pumps up their menu pages with images, fun type treatments and even rollover buttons for pics of the item.

Some might say “Who cares about eye candy? People want the menu, hours and a map”.

Who cares? Today’s multitasking, short attention spanned, tech-savvy, hip customer, that’s who. Oh, and kids. Considering its a family oriented string of restaurants, they’ve got it going on with the entertainment factor with games, engagement, and community involvement. Appealing to kids and adults alike. The site has a huge personality. Doesn’t yours – regardless of the cuisine or demographic?

A non-bloggy blog

They have a blog – although it doesn’t look like a regular blog, more like a news feed. Its packed with all sorts of story topics, from events, contests, announcements and ubiquitous specials. What I like about their news page is each story is short (most are one or two paragraphs), informative and have links where appropriate. Its a good example that even with limited time, they can post fresh content and keep it short and simple.

How ‘cool’ is your website? Does it have a big enough personality to bring customers to the site (and the front door) again and again? I’ll bet Giraffe’s does exactly that.


Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 27th July 2010

Pizza joint gives, and inspires giving

Leonardo's Pizza, twitter for restaurants, twitter contestA local pizza delivery biz here in Burlington, VT, Leonardo’s (@LeonardosPizza) routinely offers a “Retweet this and win a free pizza” contest.

Including the fact that I didn’t win – again (!), today’s contest was no different. Except that one of the RTers, Cortex Marketing (@CortexNetwork) retweeted with a desire to win, but also to donate to a worthy local non-profit, King Street Center (@KingStCenter).

By conducting a giveaway, Leonardo’s inspired others to give.

cortex marketing, leonardos pizza, twitte for restaurants, twitter contestsThat’s a win for Leonardo’s Pizza, winning retweeter, and the lucky recipient of the pie.

Are you offering simple giveaways with no strings attached (other than a quick retweet?) How are you inspiring others to give freely?

Posted by TwitterForRestaurants on 14th July 2010

What makes a tweet retweet-able?

Twitter for Restaurants - RetweetTwitter is digital (or online) word-of-mouth. Information can be spread around quickly, and if the content that is being tweeted is irresistible – like a link to a good story, video, blog post, whatever – it can go viral in a matter of hours. Surely you have come across articles or blog posts with the familiar Tweetmeme button touting hundreds of retweets, some even thousands. That’s either some delicious content and/or a very good headline and teaser in the tweet itself.

What makes a tweet retweet-able?

Good retweet-able Twitter posts should include a clever, enticing headline – something that grabs the attention of followers. If the tweet is sharing a link to a news article or blog post, ideally the tweeted copy will be similar to the article’s headline (which itself should be intriguing.) Even if you are tweeting a link to some interesting article, feel free to either elaborate on the story’s headline, or opt for a clever comment or response to the content – especially if you indeed left a comment on the article itself.

If the tweet is originated by you and points to something on your website or an article posted on your blog, you’ll already want to craft a captivating headline for the story, anyway. Tweets with lead-ins like “How to..” or “10 things…” etc, are enticing and ask for further investigation.

Using a URL shortener to add links to your tweets is the best way to free up character real estate. After all you only have 140 characters to work with. Also, a number of popular shorteners like Bit.ly, Ow.ly, etc. offer click histories for each link they create from web pages. See how and when a particular shortened URL worked its way across the web.

Include a hint about what’s in store for the reader. Shortened URLs leave a bit of mystery as where we might be led, but you can provide a head’s up by adding [video] or [pic] or some such to your tweet. A shortened link URL also allows you to leave more space should others want to retweet it. You have a max of 140 characters to use in a tweet, but there’s no rule stating you must use all of them, every tweet.

Adding one or two has tags to your tweet indicates you’d like a particular niche to pick up your tweet in Twitter streams they are following. For instance if you are a restaurant tweeting about your participation in a local festival, you’d want to include that event and city’s hash tag in order for your tweet to show up in people’s streams following that term or hash.

Caution with hash tags: no need to go all hash tag crazy on your audience. Limit the tweet to one or two relevant tags. You might add a few more if you’re asking a question to multiple markets and are looking for feedback form people you haven’t crossed social paths with yet.

Simply starting or participating in social conversations is a good way to encourage others to indulge your tweets and pass them on. You want to do the same for them; sharing their links and articles builds trust and social camaraderie that’s infectious.

In short, you want to make it easy for others to retweet you. Craft an interesting headline, use a URL shortener, and add a hash tag if you’re sharing links for a particular interest group.

What make a tweet “non-retweet-able”?

Scratch that, tweeting mostly about yourself or your biz. According to Chris Brogan, one of this blog’s favorite bloggers on all things social media, an ideal tweet ratio should be 12:1. Meaning for every 12 tweets you post, only one should be about you. The rest should be sharing information, links, accolades, conversations and hellos with your audience. People won’t be inspired to RT a constant sales pitch, either.

Try not to pack so much information, URLs (shortened or not), multiple hash tags, etc. into a tweet. Again, make it easy for it to be retweeted by leaving some space for the next RT’s own Twitter name to be included with yours.

If you’re sharing an article or post, be sure to actually read the post before retweeting it. If a tweet is leading back to your website, does the page/site look good? Or is it something you’d rather hide in the coat closet? Is the story on your blog proof read and ready for viewing by everyone and their neighbor?

Unless you are someone LIKE the aforementioned Chris Brogan, its not a bad idea to send out a blanket RT thank you if a particular post gets a number of retweets. It shows you appreciate the coverage and sharing. Likewise, make it a habit to reply to comments on your blog posts. It shows you’re listening and value your audience’s feedback. By not showing any signs of life or gratitude after you went to all the effort of writing a post and getting it out there, you might be dismissing your most avid fans. The whole idea of social media is to be social, to engage people, and share your ideas and theirs.

Are you making it easy to be retweeted? Do you have a system that works for you?