SoLoMo is a marketing tactic for leveraging the power of social networks to deliver local information to consumers via their mobile devices. But the scope of SoLoMo marketings evolving impact on the restaurant industry is still being defined.
Various trades and industries are using social media for marketing, creating brand awareness, reputation monitoring and consumer engagement. The restaurant industry is no different. By definition, restaurants are very social offline, but what about online?
TripAdvisor recently stated that 87 percent of travelers read reviews when planning their next trip, and a growing number of people are using online reviews and social media sites to decide where they choose to dine, even locally. Is your restaurant taking advantage of SoLoMo marketing?
Newspaper ads are not only expensive, but increasingly ineffective at reaching your potential patron base. Fortunately SoLoMo marketing for restaurants primarily requires no money investment at all, and minimal time investment if pursued with a focused approach.
While every restaurant should develop their own strategy to connect with their customers, I will share some ideas with you. The core of the strategy is to open the lines of communication both from your restaurant to your clients and from them back to you. This allows you to tell them about what you offer as well as allowing them to offer feedback about what you’re doing well and what you can improve upon. This essentially allows you to use your customers as a free, perpetual, always updated focus group. Once you’ve opened up the lines of communication between your restaurant and your clients, there’s an opportunity there to create a community of happy clients, which brings benefits like brand loyalty, reliable and trusted feedback and word of mouth marketing. The best marketing in the world.
SoLoMo Marketing Strategies for Restaurants
The following strategy is iEntrepreneur’s recommendation for Indian restaurant owners to increase business by use of SoLoMo (Social-Local-Mobile).
When I go to a restaurant, if I have great food, great service and I’m surrounded by memorable atmosphere, I usually become a repeat customer. Something changes though with my level of loyalty when I connect with a general manager or the owner. I now feel like I want to be a part and because of that there’s something that makes me want to help promote their business. If I feel connected, I often make a point to refer their establishment or brag about my incredible experience. I’m also prone to take someone with me the next time I visit. By feeling connected, I want to connect their restaurant to others.
As more brands embrace the possibilities that can take place by using social media, you begin to see locally owned eateries begin to use social media as one of their main marketing tactics. Usually they are motivated by the opportunity to opt in at a fairly cost-effective way, and the ability to bring them the closest to their customer. What you are seeing is a vast array of social media approaches that are being used to converse and to connect. For restaurants using social media can be that missing part that takes a casual customer and helps them evolve into a brand ambassador.
Here is a list of tools that any restaurant owner could use to connect with their customer that in return could produce a brand evangelist:
- Make sure your restaurant can be searched and reviewed through local business guides such as zomato, burrp, Google My Business and TripAdvisor.
- Suggest that positive feedback from patrons be shared on these social business guide sites.
- Sign up for a Twitter account. Publish your Twitter profile on all documents. Promote giveaways, specials and announcements via your Twitter profile. Also use it as a tool to listen and converse with your customers.
- Newsletter. Email a monthly newsletter with the latest happenings, new menu items, entertainment news, recipe of the month etc. This is also a great tool to collect email addresses for future opportunities to connect with the customer.
- Email. Use email not only for your newsletter, but also to give away FREE stuff to your customers and continue to build your email list.
- Google Alerts. This is a great tool to use to listen to what is being said about your business, website or even your chef. Setting up a Google alert with just the name of your restaurant can bring priceless insight to both positive and negative talk that’s being said online about your business.
- Facebook. Set up a Facebook fan page to connect with your customers on Facebook. Keep it updated with fresh content and always make sure you’re involved with the conversations that are taking place on “the wall.”
- YouTube. Incorporate video into your social media strategy. Take your customer behind the scene and give them a pass to a part of the restaurant that only insiders are allowed to go. Provide a few quick tips and how-tos from the house chef. Share these videos on YouTube and other video sharing sites, as well as your blog. Use video to even show where you buy your produce and meats. This is also serves a dual role because it promotes your local farmers.
- Events. Host Tweetups for your Twitter community and Meetups for those that gather around topics via meetup.com.
- Pinterest. Use photo sharing sites to show images of events, behind the scenes and market days. Let your customer see from the eyes of the chef rather then just the brand.
Remember, that the effectiveness of social media isn’t the tool; its listening, answering questions and connecting with others. These tools are just opportunities to connect your customers to your brand and by connecting with them they’ll tell others about you.
Here are a few examples of how dining establishments are using social media to connect with their customers.
- Archana’s Kitchen
- Girl in the Cafe
Internet access has already undergone a complete metamorphosis, and search engines are no longer exempted from this. This is because these very search engines have been forced to find ways of personalizing results, so that web users can be presented with factual information which is specific and relevant to their needs, and due to dynamism brought about by technology, location has emerged as one of the new frontiers that search engines can use to personalize results. Optimizing search engine based on local contents is hugely beneficial for local businesses, and there are already several researches from iconic organization attesting to this fact.
Location based Mobile Marketing
Location based social media is becoming a positive influence for many restaurant owners who depend on local traffic for their sales.
Those who are traveling for business, local residents and other business owners can learn a lot about a business based on how they conduct their local media campaigns. In addition, location based marketing allows for instant customer feedback, provides opportunities to increase business by offering special deals and helps spread the word about local business.
While we stay a rather portable society, it is challenging for someone new to the area to find area shops, restaurants and stores. Social media offers opportunities to reach out to new members of the community who may be active on one or more social networks. Additionally, being able to give these newcomers with instant feedback about services in the community can help develop long-term relationships.
One of the major advantages of location based social media marketing is the potential for developing a local reputation. When social media networks find that people are visiting specific restaurants or stores and leaving immediate feedback, they may be curious enough to visit themselves. Social media does a lot more than just satisfy curiosities. It makes Twitter followers or Facebook fans remember their last visit. This act of reminding customers about their last visit prompts them to want to return, to keep the experience fresh in the minds of those who have yet to visit, but have planned on it. This helps spread the reach of a business through one of the best means of advertising, word of mouth.
Customers of local businesses who leave feedback after visiting a facility can help a business expand their credibility. Leaving reviews, information about pricing or information about specials will generally be far more credible from another customer than from the company itself. This is a great way for a company to offer something unique for visitors such as a badge to include on their favorite location-based social media account.
There may be several advantages to location-based social media advertising, but overall the opportunity to reach the community, display relevant reviews and offer legitimate feedback are high on the list of what helps a business’s reputation. Restaurants who fail to have a presence on location-based social media sites may find themselves falling behind their competition. Today, people are as likely to log on using their mobile phones to share information about a restaurant as they are to log into their computers to read about it.
Location based services have a lot to offer small local businesses, which can make sure their ads are going to customers who are close enough to actually act on them.
43.4% of the restaurants owners surveyed said Social Media Marketing was their top marketing priority. Another 31% said in-store promotions were their top marketing priority. Location based marketing stands at the intersection of both of social media and in-store promotions. This means that location-based marketing dovetails perfectly with 74.4% of restaurant’s marketing strategies!
Location based marketing lets restaurants tap their social media presence to drive concrete customer foot traffic into their store. It also ties in with in-store promotions because customers physically need to check-in, and they can use all sorts of in-store promotions like discounts, coupons, free giveaways, or group deals.
SoLoMo is a lot more than just discounts and deals when it comes to drinking and dining. Restaurants and bars are giving social media users a backstage pass to the food and the people who make it. Chefs and restaurateurs are using location-based social media to show how their dishes are made, generate familiarity with chefs and offer a means for diners to share feedback.
The fundamentals of SoLoMo Marketing for Restaurants
- You have to have a suitably compelling offer because your customers are looking for things that are interesting, maybe a menu special this evening or maybe a new product that’s on sale this weekend or maybe a new service that you are offering, one of the first companies in the area to have this service. If you want customers to be interested in your business then your offers have to be compelling.
- Once you have a compelling offer you need to get it delivered to your market. Your business may use direct mail, it may use e-mail marketing or you may have a sign in the window or a sidewalk ad board close your business. However you can reach your customers that is what you do.
- You’ve got to measure the results. They say that 50% of marketing works but most people don’t know which 50%. The truth is this is an old wives’ tale and for the most part most businesses have a pretty good idea of their return on things like direct mail and on e-mail marketing because they can see how many people open those messages and see how much their business increases after a particular offer is direct mailed or e-mailed to customers. They can also see how fast a special sells out based whether it is still on the board or in the window at the end of the day.
So, when we think about SoLoMo, don’t forget it’s all about fundamentals. It’s the same fundamentals that you use and have used in your business marketing for years; compelling offers, distribution of those offers, measuring an offer’s effectiveness. It’s really only the delivery, social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, and how we measure the results (likes, shares and retweets) that has changed and they are very similar to what you are already doing today. The tools may change and the avenues of distribution may be different but it is fundamentally the same process.