July’s AZIMA event “Serving it Up with Social Media” was full of delicious stories about what it’s like to do social media marketing for restaurants. We got to hear from the perspective of national chains like Chipotle and PF Chang’s & Pei Wei, as well as from a local perspective of the acclaimed Phoenix restaurant Beckett’s Table. The discussion was moderated by Ty Largo, a food blogger & marketer of restaurants & hospitality at UP Agency, so we really got to enjoy a discussion full of expertise & knowledge! We also demoed an exciting new app called Chatterplug during the presentation, which allowed attendees to review the event in real time – which tied in nicely to our discussion of online review sites & getting feedback from guests!
What ensued was a great discussion where the three panelists shared stories on what they’ve found works well – and what doesn’t – to connect with their customers with social media. While all panelists agreed that social media can’t replace the importance of one on one interaction, and social media metrics can’t track mojo or the ROI on a smile, they all found social media to be incredibly effective & important to connect with their guests and spread the word about their latest dishes & promotions.
Chef Justin Beckett (@BeckettsTable) is not only a chef, but also the social media voice of Beckett’s Table, creating all of the Tweets & Facebook shares his guests enjoy himself. He finds that people react most favorably to pictures of the food, and he often posts pictures of the daily special, or even before and after pictures of the ingredients and the final dish. He joked that “Every time I post a picture of heirloom tomatoes, people go crazy!” in response to learning what kind of posts get the best interaction.
Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) connects with their local branch managers to ask questions like: Who are your customers? What do you want to do to connect with them better? to help identify new marketing initiatives that will help them connect better with their various local markets. They also try to identify brand ambassadors and reach out to them for ideas & inspiration (in exchange for burritos, of course!), and are launching a new program where the local staff & managers can invite loyal customers to receive special perks & rewards. Making local connections is a big part of their social media approach.
PF Chang’s (@PFChangs) & Pei Wei (@PeiWei) reply to every tweet and try to connect with as many of their fans as possible, which is impressive for a national chain with over 20,000 followers on Twitter and almost 250,000 fans on Facebook! They find that coupons, such as the free lettuce wraps coupon that is currently on their Facebook page, are very effective at driving people to the stores through social media. They find that “one page, one message” is best when it comes to managing multiple locations so that they can control the voice and make sure no well-intentioned but perhaps less-skilled restaurants are posting updates like “nom nom nom nom nom.”
What was interesting was that all three restaurants – PF Chang’s, Chipotle & Beckett’s Table – had just one person who was doing the heavy lifting of social media, and they all admit it’s no easy task and still playing catch-up on some social media fronts! Despite the challenges, you could tell that all three panelists really enjoyed their job and had a lot of passion for what they do, which was inspiring to restaurateurs and marketers alike.
And of course, all of that talk about food sure made the crowd hungry, but not to worry as Chipotle & PF Chang’s handed out coupons for free burritos & lettuce wraps, respectively, to everyone in attendance!
Event Photo Credit: Mark Goldstein