How do we quantify results (butts in seats and dollars) for the investment we are making in social media marketing?
– Matt Stuhl, Director of Operations, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, San Francisco, CA
This is a classic ROI question and unfortunately, not an easy one to answer. Unlike traditional media, there is no way to opt out of social media marketing, a point lost on too many restaurateurs. To illustrate, imagine you decide not to do any traditional advertising for your restaurant. No billboards, radio spots, television ads, print ads or event sponsorship. That decision may result in no one talking about your establishment or, worst case, some bad word-of-mouth from guests who dined with you and had a negative experience. In the social media world, however, even if you do not want to invest in social media marketing, your restaurant has an active online presence. Whether you want it or not, you have reviews on multiple sites and pop up in search results. You may decide not to manage that world for cost savings, but that would be a losing strategy.
For the short term, traditional marketing metrics can work in social media. For example, if you run a promotion through Facebook where guests who mention a certain deal or secret code can get a discount, the ROI of that campaign is easily quantifiable, just as a telephone book coupon would be.
Longer-term, however, you are really talking about managing a social media presence and building relationships with your guests. How will you stay top-of-mind as a dining destination? How can you convince an unhappy guest to retract a scathing review? How can you reward loyal guests who recommend your restaurant to their friends?
David Toth, VP of Client Stategy at Vividfront in Cleveland, OH says, “The ultimate goal should always be about butts in seats and driving sales, but focusing on various goals throughout the process is what will create the path to get there in a sustainable approach.
“One over arching objective that stands out in the restaurant industry is the experiential factor - how you can create an experience with a prospect/customer that they will remember and want to share with their friends. The experience and way you engage that individual can incorporate promotional offers, branding, customer service/feedback, etc. But ultimately you want to hold yourself accountable for the lifetime relationship, not the one time sale. If you are able to achieve that ROI metric for a lifetime opportunity, it will be the difference between offering a Groupon type promotion with an immediate return versus a repeat visitor who becomes an evangelist.”