Restaurant Fan Page Promotion – Most “Likes” Wins – Right?

Most Likes Win -

Most Likes Win – Right?

Well, the simple answer to that question is no.  Despite everyone using fan counts to gauge popularity the simple truth to the matter is that the number of fans, or “likes”, your page accrues can have very little relationship with the effectiveness of your brand page. The simple analogy would be you wouldn’t count a Broadway show as a success if the theater was packed, but no one was looking at the stage – especially if the tickets were free. There are other reasons which leave fan count a suspect metric for determining the effectiveness of your Facebook marketing campaign. There are a number of services which sell fans by the thousands. These are farmed links from Facebook members that may live anywhere in the world and not even be able to read the language your page is written in – not very fallow ground for building customer relations.  The only real test for whether your posts are effective are the page analytics that tell how many people saw your post and how many people interacted. There are four categories:

  • Reach –  the number of people that actually see your post
  • Engaged Users –  the number of people clicking anywhere on your post
  • Talking About This –  the number of people sharing, liking, or commenting on your post
  • Virality – the number of people who have created a story from your post as a percentage of the number of people who have seen it

Here is a very helpful link to Facebook that examines page analytics at much greater depth. The object then is to maximize the number of people that see your post and then engage with it.  First let’s see how Facebook programs everyone’s News Feed.   It is important to remember that, on average, only 16% of your fans will actually see your posts.  Facebook determines who sees what by a complex combination of algorithms called “Edgerank”.   These are based on three factors – Affinity, Weight and Time Decay.  There are dozens of websites that explain what this means in exhaustive detail and they are just a Google search away, but here’s the thumbnail version: Affinity –Measures the relationship between the user and the creator of the story.  In the case of a fan page it means the more a fan has interacted with your page in the past the more likely they are to see it in the future. Weight – Different types of posts carry different weights.  For instance – posting a photo is more valuable than a simple text comment, a fan commenting is more valuable than someone simply liking your page.  Rule of thumb is if something takes longer to accomplish it registers more weight.  The higher the weight, the higher the score. Time Decay – As a post ages it continually loses value. Here are a few simple guidelines to maximize your page’s Edgerank value: What to post – Your Facebook posts should be Visual, Engaging, Brief and Relevant.

  1. Pictures, Pictures, Pictures!  Brief targeted communications that include graphics are a perfect example of a picture being worth 1,000 words.  Visuals of dishes, dining rooms or patrons enjoying a wine tasting are a compelling force in the use of Facebook to promote your restaurant and attract more followers.  Photo albums are 180 times more likely to illicit engagement from fans, with photos and videos right behind at 120 and 100 times more respectively.
  2. Interactive – Updates should include an interrogative element that invites a response.  Try asking about a wine pairing option, a favorite dish, or a suggestion for a new feature or menu item.  Adding a simple call to action increases the chances of a response by ninety times.
  3. Succinct – Posts between 100 and 250 characters are 60% more likely to get “liked” or commented on – keep things short.
  4. Relevancy – Effective Facebook posts can and should include information that is of interest to your customers.  For instance – if you’re an Italian restaurant you could include a link to an interesting article about Sicilian wines.  It doesn’t all have to be a sales pitch to be effective.

When to post – While it may seem unintuitive studies show that the most effective time to post during the day is after 4:00 PM, with the peak being between 7:00 and 11:00.  The reasons are relatively simple – while most people are working during the day many Facebook page posts will go by unseen as they are buried by everyone else that posts during the same time.  Yes, the truth is that while most businesses post during office hours it is the posts that are created during the evening hours that re viewed, and propagated virally, my the most users. How often – Once a day is a safe rule to stick to for several reasons.  The first is that one of the most often cited reasons for un-liking a fan page is that it posts updates too often, or worse, several in a row.  Important to remember – more than 95% of your fans view your updates on their own News Feed, not on your page.  Clogging up the flow is not only going to devalue your posts, it will also provoke the dreaded “Hide” button. Facebook is an intuitive and interactive networking platform that enables you to connect directly with your customers in ways that were almost imaginable just a few years ago.   You can get feedback, reward participation and notify customers of new offerings.  It is, however, more important than ever that this very powerful marketing and communication tool be used effectively.  Remember, there are no shortcuts.  The trick is to keep people engaged and interested and they will respond.  Just filling the theater won’t do it – you have to put on a successful show to keeps fans coming back.

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Restaurant Social Media – Finding the Right Person For The Job

Social Media Restaurant Trends 2014

Social Media Restaurant Trends 2014

We have reached the point where everyone can agree that social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Whatever Network Appears In The Next Ten Minutes Before I Post This) is a critical component in any restaurant’s marketing strategy.  What no one has seemed to have done is clearly define whose responsibility it should be.  That is until now.

Social Media is as much a process as anything else, and while I hate the buzzwords that have obscured the issue (brand ambassador, engagement, influencer, conversation facilitator, etc.) there is no denying that the core of the issue is customer relations.  Therefore the person that becomes the online face of your restaurant must possess several indispensable skills:

1)      They must be articulate – and not just in 140 characters

If someone is writing about your food you need them to able to express themselves confidently and coherently.  Great literature no, remedial grammar abilities – yes!  Typos happen, but they shouldn’t become a distraction to potential dinners reading about your current desert special.

2)      They need to be knowledgeable

Whoever is tweeting or posting about your menu should know it at least as well as your servers do – if people ask questions they should know the answer.

3)      They need to be invested

And I don’t mean financially – the person must be invested in the success of your restaurant in a manner that extends beyond the next week, the next pay check or the next tip.  They need to be a committed professional that cares about  product and service.

4)      They need to be personable

Personality is an integral component of any dining experience – an engaging server can mean a big difference in check size versus one going through the motions – it works the same online.  We all know a limp handshake is worse than none at all.

5)       They need to be accountable

There has to be a chain of command where it is clear exactly who is responsible for social media marketing – and who they report to.  There are already too many cracks for this process to fall into – make sure everyone knows their role.

Okay, the next question is who is the person that fits all of these criteria?  Well, they are probably already on your staff – and they may not be the person you think they are.  First of all let’s discuss who this isn’t.

It isn’t the host or hostess.  Yes, I do realize that Jessica or Ryan is very personable, probably cute and no doubt perky, enthusiastic and likable (you hired them, after all).  However if you look at the list above you’ll see that they may not be knowledgeable or necessarily that articulate about food.  And they certainly aren’t invested or accountable.  While they may blossom into an eventual GM they could just as easily tell you they’re leaving for a week at Bonnaroo at the end of the month.  And while they may be extremely active on Twitter or Facebook, it doesn’t mean that those personal habits translate into marketing skills.  Looking good behind the wheel of a car doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to drive.

It is also probably not the assistant manager – the person responsible for schedules, seating, printing, reservations and pretty much everything else happening on the floor.  You don’t want your field general in charge of public relations – they’re used to prioritizing, and something called “Twitter” is going to fall off the end of that list faster than you can say “The ice machine is broken”.

It is also not the chef, waiter, back waiter or bartender – all of these employees might be willing and available, but will almost always fall short in one of the above stated qualifications (I know, I’ve tried everyone).  However, there is someone we haven’t mentioned.  I can also say that with almost four years’ experience developing the online marketing programs for the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, as well as other prominent restaurant organizations, that this is the clear cut favorite for the position of social media manager.

Virtually every restaurant has someone in charge of Group Dining and Event Planning.  This may be a dedicated role, or the responsibilities may be combined with other promotional efforts, but in general it’s going to be someone that possesses the requisite skill set.  The catering manager is going to know the menu – they have to sell it every day – and they are going to be able to speak about it intelligently and confidently.  They are going to be personable and skilled at marketing – they are probably working on some sort of commission.   They are going to be invested in the success of the restaurant because it benefits them both monetarily and professionally – and they are going to be accountable, they are probably already an important person in the chain of command.

However the most important part of this role may be one I haven’t mentioned – consistency.   It is important to not only appoint the current group dining or catering manager social media point person – it is critically imperative to make it part of the job description.   And anyone applying for such a position in this age of constantly evolving social networking should already have those skills – you don’t hire the sous chef hoping for on the job training.  This will ensure that you won’t find yourself searching for passwords or logins – responsibility for account maintenance will be handed off the same way it is in the kitchen and on the floor – qualified personnel in the right place to do the right job.

Now, before I get a lot of unhappy comments from devoted hostess tweeters and bartender bloggers – this does not mean that other people on your staff are automatically unqualified or unprofessional.  For instance – Anthony Sasso, Chef at Casa Mono/ Bar Jamon, is engaging and informative when writing about his menu, and he also takes the most amazing food pictures I’ve ever seen – but that is very much the exception to the rule.  Social Media Marketing Admin is an increasingly vital position in any marketing campaign, and the position is one that needs to be consistently executed at the same level of competency expected from any other position on your staff.  Any other approach is a sure recipe for, are you ready, failure.

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