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Social Media and Restaurants | Post # 1

Over the next few weeks, we want give you ideas on how to use social media tools. These will include examples of what restaurants are doing to attract customers and build Buzz while using Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, etc. etc. As you well know, these tools have become super-popular over the past few years. Yes, some may think they are feeding the naturally narcissistic society that we live in today; but if you can figure out how to add fuel to this narcissism (primarily through incentives), you just may increase traffic.

Today, we want to tell you a bit about a New York eatery (www.4food.com) that is taking social media to the extreme. They are scheduled to open right after the 4th of July weekend. Here’s what they are doing:
  • They are installing a 240-sq-ft monitor that will constantly stream Twitter feeds and FourSquare check-ins. Of course, the restaurant will have a free wi-fi connection so customers can see their own tweets and check-ins real-time (is that a perfect way to feed customer narcissism or what?)
  • Employees will carry around iPads to so customers can place orders. And if you tag 4food’s Facebook wall, you will be eligible to win a free iPad!
  • The real innovative use of social media is what is a relatively new phenomenon called “crowdsourcing” (As a side note, you may want to read up on “crowdsourcing” on Wikipedia; or play around with mturk.com to see how all industries are using it). 4food provides customers with a do-it-yourself app to create (invent) their own dishes or sandwiches from the restaurant’s list of ingredients. Customers can even give it a clever name. If someone is to order that dish, 4food gives a 25-cent store-credit to the inventor.We think this is another perfect example of feeding customer narcissism.

There are two primary advantages (in our opinion) of this model. First, it gives incentives to customers for creating their own dishes. Engagement is key in the restaurant industry, and this is an excellent model for it. Second, through trial-and-error, it should improve the quality of dishes and sandwiches via a customer-rating system.

Of course, in the end, the success will depend on the quality of food and customer service. We believe that the restaurant will start out with a bang; but will need to continue its innovative ways of social media engagement.

For most restaurants, this is bit of a stretch; but taking baby-steps with tools like FourSquare will go a long way in increasing traffic.

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