In a social media world full of live videos, snaps, likes and tweets, it can be difficult to make a brand heard above the digital noise. Tailoring social media strategy to create quality content and relationships is one way operators can stand out to consumers in a crowded online field.
For restaurants wanting to step up their social media efforts, here are four ideas from the 2017 NRA Show for maximizing engagement and reach.
1. Be choosey with the social platforms you use
As the saying goes, you can’t be everything to everyone. The same can be said for social media, where a variety of streams catering to different audiences flood the internet.
Snap Kitchen didn't run with the popularity of "Pokemon Go" because the appeal didn't align with the chain's brand or audience, the brand's Claire Siegel pointed out during a panel discussion. Instead, the new concept focused on other platforms that better fit its brand and customer. “Instagram is where we show who we are,” Siegel said.
2. Make strategic social partnerships
Building authentic partnerships with social influencers is a great way to grow an audience and give more social currency to a brand, according to speakers. Snap Kitchen partnered with the popular Whole30 diet program, which aligned with the brand's health-focused menu. Snap allowed one of the Whole30 founders to take over the brand’s Instagram for a day, and during that takeover the chain gained 1,700 followers.
An emphasis on social partnerships may be the next big thing in social media, according to Elizabeth Pigg, a social media expert at Edelman, a firm that has worked with clients such as Darden Restaurants, the parent of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Yard House. It leads to quality content over quantity, she said.
Pigg gave the example of brands working with established media partners, like Tasty on Buzzfeed, to create bespoke content from a publisher that already has a captive audience and is known for high quality.
3. Create anticipation
Let an audience have a say in the interactive parts of social media, Pigg suggested. She points out a lot of influencers and media are utilizing Facebook Live to engage with an audience, but not a lot of consumer brands are using the platform. Facebook Live is a great way to make consumers feel included in something experiential online and outside of a store or restaurant, she pointed out.
4. Move customer service issues off social
If customer service issues arise, Snap Kitchen immediately tries to take the discussion off social to minimize the possibility of social media backlash. Tweets are funneled into a Slack channel that Snap Kitchen’s social media team monitors, and if any issues arise with a customer, the brand apologizes and then moves the discussion offline and defers it to the customer service team.
That sense of urgency is key when dealing with services issues and younger generations, speakers said. “Generation Z doesn’t know what it’s like to be put on hold,” and look to social media for an immediate response, Siegel commented, also reminding operators to take ownership and not to get defensive when it comes to service issues online.