Speaking at the Allegra Marketing in Foodservice conference, digital food marketing expert Karen Fewell, aka Digital Blonde, said she came up with the guidelines after being repeatedly asked what the secret to social media was.
Continuously spark your audience’s interest by keeping your social media content fresh and interactive.
People don’t go on social media to get business news – share entertaining content relevant to your business, but keep in mind that entertaining doesn’t always have to be funny.
Interact with your customers and put them in touch with other relevant social media personalities to create and grow a community.
Social media is the easiest way to engage with individual customers. Keep track of regular users, get in touch, thank them for pictures and retweets and make sure they feel rewarded for their custom.
Social media is a great platform to educate consumers and start debates on topics such as healthy eating, food safety or allergies, promoting a love of food that isn’t detrimental to health.
Honesty should be at the heart of your social media activity. Whether handling a bad review or commenting on an incident that happened at your venue, always be transparent: the truth always comes out.
Social media myths
With 85 per of social media managers having only held that position for two years or less, understanding this marketing platform is still a work in progress, but Fewell and her panel of experts, including Ed Butcher from Square Meal, Sarah Gray from Mars Foodservice and Thomas Kilroy from BaxterStorey tried to bust some common social media myths.
For example, this type of marketing activity can be seen as costing a lot of money when it’s actually quite cost-effective. The idea that you must get it right from the first go can also be debated due to the short-lived nature of social media content – Twitter users only see one eighth to one fifteenth of messages on their feed.
However, operators starting to use social media should not underestimate the amount of work required to make it a successful marketing tool. “You need to always think about the potential downside of everything you post,” said Kilroy.
Mobile phone food revolution
Fewell pointed out how important it is for food operators to engage with customers on social media, with 9.2m Twitter mentions of food in the UK over the last year, and 92 per cent of consumers trusting word of mouth more than advertising.
“Jamie Oliver said the real food revolution will come from the mobile phone. I agree, but I think the real insight is in what people are sharing about food from their mobile every day,” she said, adding that the number one rule in social media marketing is to listen to your audience.
Fewell reminded the audience of the #Socialchef survey conducted by Mars Foodservice, pointing out that chefs “are the social stars of the hospitality industry”. The survey revealed that 63.1 per cent of chefs believe social media should be part of their training.
Mars Foodservice's Sarah Gray explained that as consumers become more evolved in social media, they realise that other people’s opinions can differ from theirs, and are therefore more likely to be influenced by what chefs’ online personalities than by reviews.
Stories from the dinner table
Finally, Fewell pointed to psychiatric evidence showing that what triggers a purchase is a story, not a product, and explained that social media is the perfect place to share stories and experiences. Digital Blonde and Square Meal are now launching a campaign called ‘Stories from the dinner table’, encouraging customers and operators to share more than just food pictures and comments online.
“What did you talk about during dinner? What happened while you were at the restaurant? We want people to start painting a more comprehensive picture of the experience,” she said.