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Marketing

Social media done right

Nobody wants to cede control of their message to a bunch of teenagers online (which is a myth, as the panel discussed—the fastest growing Facebook demographic is actually 30 year olds). But if you do it right and allow folks to message about your brand freely, while you monitor and offer input along the way, social media gold—brand awareness, allegiance and sales—awaits. So how do you do it right? In the world of social media marketing, if you love your brand, you have to set it free.

“You can’t control the message like you could before, but you can certainly shape the dialogue,” explained Mike Murphy, vice president of global sales for Facebook, one of three social media heavy hitters who spoke at the Restaurant Leadership Conference on a panel sponsored by PepsiCo Foodservice.

Embracing Murphy’s assessment can be scary. Nobody wants to cede control of their message to a bunch of teenagers online (which is a myth, as the panel discussed—the fastest growing Facebook demographic is actually 30 year olds). But if you do it right and allow folks to message about your brand freely, while you monitor and offer input along the way, social media gold—brand awareness, allegiance and sales—awaits. So how do you do it right?

Panelist Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent, a social media platform that helps spread word-of-mouth marketing, gave a step-by-step tutorial.

The first step for beginners, he said, is to just watch. There are a number of services that will monitor who is talking about you online (see Reputation tracking below). See what they’re saying and where they’re saying it—and realize that your brand is already in the social media universe whether you want it to be or not.

Next, just do it, open an account. “I think there’s this fear that I’m going to create an account on Twitter and suddenly everybody’s going to spam me and it’s going to be a nightmare and then I can’t get out of it,” said Balter. “You can get in pretty easily and not friend anybody and just watch what’s happening.” Get comfortable with how it works.

Balter says the next step is to identify the people who are talking about you in a positive way and “invite them into your product.” Try using coupons. Also—obviously—you want to find the people who are saying bad things about you.

“A great way to actually foster a positive impact, is to reach out to one of these people and say, ‘Hey, I saw you didn’t have a great experience here. Can I do something to help you? Can I be involved?’

“And I think the final thing you want to do is once you get these people to sort of engage with you, you need to give them ways to do things that are clear and you will know have impact. So, yes, send them a sample, that’s nice, but then say to them, ‘Look, what we’re really looking for is how do we build out our fanspace. How do we get people to know about our new offer and the restaurant?’ And you will find that just by asking, just by showing that you’re going to put your arms around them, they will go do plenty of things on behalf of your brand and it’s pretty simple.”

And as Steve Patrizi, Vice President, Marketing Solutions for social media platform LinkedIn, emphasized, it would really be hard to offer too much transparency. As many companies are discovering, he said, showing the faces and broadcasting the voices of your employees helps customers develop that emotional bond with your brand that everybody is after.

“You walk in a restaurant and you want to know your host and you want to know the servers and you want to know the chef,” he said. “You want to know the people who are about to serve you food, and that’s always been the case, but it really has been difficult [to let customers meet everybody]. Social media is giving you the opportunity to start doing that.”

Reputation tracking

A few of the services that help you track who’s talking about you online.

FohBuzz
249 per month
This is reputation tracking with a twist—it's exclusively for restaurants. Get all the scintillating details on what people are saying, right down to the exact tweet, Facebook status update, YouTube video, photo or blog post.

Viralheat
$9.99 per month Basic Plan up to $89.99 per month for Business Plan
Viralheat is geared toward making your social media marketing campaigns more effective.

Sentiment Metrics
Starts at $390 per month
The analytical side of the service means that you can receive alerts whenever bad press appears.

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