Food is a very visual experience, from admiring a frothy pink cocktail to ogling a perfectly rolled piece of sushi. That’s why restaurants are dipping their toes into the Pinterest waters. Hot social media properties have come and gone, but few have made any headway against the 800-pound gorillas of Facebook and Twitter. Newcomer Pinterest is looking to change that. Pinterest is all about the visuals. Users “pin” photos, articles and videos from around the Web onto virtual pinboards organized by subject matter, color or interest. You can follow particular users whose interests, style or aesthetic match your own.
Pinterest is still invite-only, but that hasn’t slowed down the millions of users who visit it each month. The site’s visual focus and addicted, mainly female fan base make it a hot property for restaurants looking to branch out their social media efforts. It encourages restaurant fans to share images with their friends. A mouthwatering photo of a burger could turn a Pinterest viewer into a new customer.
RA Sushi Bar Restaurant is a 25-location chain known for its stylish sushi rolls, colorful cocktails and vibrant interior decor. The chain is already active on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. As Pinterest picked up steam, RA Sushi became an early supporter. Since Pinterest is all about photos, it played in well with the restaurant’s visual vibe. “RA has a distinct personality and this was a way to express more fun things about the brand,” says Amy Sun, director of marketing with RA Sushi.
RA Sushi’s Pinterest page features pinboards focused around its specialty rolls, cocktails, locations, favorite ingredients and music. There are also seasonal boards dedicated to limited-edition cocktails and Mardi Gras specials. “Since launching our Pinterest page, we’ve had a great response. Followers are re-pinning and traffic to our website and Facebook pages has increased,” says Sun. It helps that RA Sushi goes to great lengths to showcase well-photographed food and beverages that look both professional and enticing.
Sun has some tips for restaurants that are new to the Pinterest phenomenon. She suggests posting visually interesting photos, spacing the postings out rather than overwhelming a pinboard with new material and cross-promoting with other social media platforms. As with any successful social media campaign, Pinterest is about building community and interacting with customers. “Don’t make it all about the product—it transcends the product. It’s about the brand and the brand’s personality. We want to showcase who we are, not just what we are,” says Sun. Check out the RA Sushi Pinterest page at http://pinterest.com/rasushi.
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