Quick Service Restaurants are recognizing the need to integrate their offline advertising strategies with Social Media sites, but with so many options available, how do you decide which site is best for your organization?
We all deal with them. Time, Budget, Personnel, Knowledge, C-Suite Buy-in, etc.
For organizations with limited resources, you may want to develop a relatively passive approach to managing your Online and Social Media presence. This will mainly include monitoring sites such as FourSquare, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, TripAdvisor, and other check-in/review sites for mentions and reviews of your brand. With this approach, you only enter the conversation when something is mentioned specifically about your brand or organization.
A more active approach to marketing your QSR on Social Media includes posting and directly interacting with your followers on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This active engagement requires a large amount of internal resources to ensure your brand is constantly and consistently interacting with community members. This approach requires strategy development, communication planning, and real time engagement to help build a community of followers around your brand.
Can you describe your ideal customer? Where do they live? Work? Play? What do they do? Read? Listen to? What motivates them to engage with marketing messages?
Your potential and existing customers are spreading word-of-mouth marketing about your brand, products, and competitors right now online. Before you commit to a Social Media strategy, take time to “listen” to those conversations by monitoring each major Social Media and Review site.
Make sure you “listen” to the conversations for some time before you act on them. The purpose of this exercise is to gain a deeper understanding of your customers in their own terms (literally). Study the language they use, the sites they frequent, and how they interact with others. Your messages should take this information into consideration and fit seamlessly into their conversations.
Do you empower your employees and executives to publicly communicate on behalf of the company? Is your company open to allowing the personality of your brand to resonate louder than your message? Is your company ready to become a publisher and be open to the idea of customer dialogue?
Successful Social Media strategies require C-Suite sponsorship AND involvement in order to build successful campaigns. Some executives will welcome the idea of this intimate customer relationship. Others will resist it. Changing executive level viewpoints may be difficult, so be sure your Social Media strategy reflects how you plan to mitigate risk and demonstrate return on investment.
Leave internal politics out of the equation. If the second floor accounting manager, her assistant, and his dog must approve every tweet before it is sent, your strategy will never be agile enough to be effective. Social Media conversations are reactive and require flexibility.
Finally, it takes time to build a community of brand advocates and supporters. Unrealistic expectations from internal sponsors and personnel can crush the successfulness of a Social Media strategy.
Building effective Social Media strategies for QSRs is not easy, but if planned and executed properly, they can reduce marketing costs, increase brand awareness, and elevate your company’s image online.
About the Author:
Ryan Sides is the Lead Strategist at Bacon Social Media, a Marketing firm dedicated to helping Restaurants and Retailers implement effective Social Media Strategies, and is the author of “How to Market a Restaurant - 7 Steps to Effective Restaurant Marketing in Only 25 Minutes a Day”. Reach Ryan with Questions on Twitter @RyanSides225.