Jun
5

Tasty Online Marketing for Restaurants

Consumer reports have continuously found that consumers (just like you and me) prefer the recommendations of their peers instead of other advertising means. Why? Because it’s (for the most part) unbiased and since these friends and colleagues know you well, you assume they would know what you like and have your best interests at heart. Yes, word of mouth marketing is alive and well, and will continue to thrive.

Restaurants have always relied heavily on word of mouth marketing. When you want a delicious meal, you often ask your friends or read reviews from critics. But what if our reviews of our favorite tasty places could be shouted from the rooftops to all of our connections? With the advent of social media and user-generated content, word of mouth marketing has become a tidal wave of great marketing opportunities that just need to be harnessed. So how can restaurants get on board and start surfing the wave? Here are some unexpected ideas…

Twitter
Start monitoring, join the conversation, and some shameless self-promotion never hurts either. Twitter is particularly handy because it’s short and it’s RIGHT now. Lots of twitter users are looking for suggestions on where to go or watching where other users are going. Twitter can be a great venue for the customer satisfaction pulse. If someone has an issue, it’s great to provide on the spot customer service, and this can create amazing brand loyalty. Also, what a great way to help loyal customers (your Twitter followers) know about menu updates, specials or just how much you love them.

Yelp, Urbanspoon and other Review Sites
These great sites will help you keep up on what people are really saying about your establishment. Don’t ignore these reviews. Sure, you can’t please everyone, but if you’re looking for suggestions on how to improve your service, look no further than these treasure troves of great info. Tip: Don’t be afraid of the occasional nasty/rude review. These bad apples make the rest of the great reviews more genuine. Sometimes you’ll even get a loyalist on your side that will discount those mean mentions. Also, many review sites have iPhone applications, so going mobile is a snap and free to you.

Google Maps
Get yourself listed! With Google Maps it’s free to list your business and may be more helpful than you may think. Let me tell you why. Google is the number one search engine and is moving forward with blended search results (particularly local). This means it’s more likely a map result will get precedence over other content. Want to be on the first page? This is a good way to do it! Also, Google Maps is a leading service in mobile mapping technology, so if someone is looking for a good place to eat while they’re out and about, you’ll show up! Also, Google will aggregate most review sites and average those reviews, making it really easy for consumers to get the scoop on your delicious venue.

Meetup, Upcoming, Facebook Events and other Event Sites
Looking to promote a particular event at your establishment? Broadcasting it on local-based event sites is a great way to get visitors that didn’t even know you existed before. Also, look to partner with groups that may need venue suggestions. If you have a particularly slow night (say Tuesdays), offer them up a great deal (maybe happy hour prices) to host their group. This is a great way to start brand loyalty with new faces.

Flickr and YouTube
Got a camera? Take some shots of your famous menu items to share with fans and people that might be interested in learning more about your restaurant. This will help people get a better understanding of portions, how delicious your food is, etc. Also, there’s a great chance these photos will show up in blended search results! Got a video camera? Even better! Take a video tour of “behind-the-scenes” to give guests a unique experience on what goes into creating the amazing dishes you offer. This can really create buzz and be a nice personalized touch, especially if you already have fanatical brand loyalists.

Hope your mouth is watering with all these delicious new marketing opportunities that online relationships offer. Now that you’ve had a taste, how do you think you could harness this new trend to get more patrons?

Originally written for On Our Minds – Santy Integrated’s blog.

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This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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