Foodies can be very fickle – especially if they are armed with a smartphone. An increasing number of diners are instagraming, tweeting and Facebooking their meals. This can generate a lot of positive conversation – or it can result in a poor review online, accessible by many.
In this post, I´ll look at 10 Victorian food and/or beverage establishments using social media in a positive way, to engage, listen, respond and develop relationships with their customers beyond their physical venue.
Chin Chin has very quickly become known in social media circles for its progressive social media outreach strategy. Earlier this year, Chin Chin were featured in The Age as part of a story about restaurants hiring bloggers. Jess Ho, author of food blog That Jess Ho, was hired to work front of house at Chin Chin as well as manage its social media presence.
“Other people may say, ‘Oh, we were tweeting beforehand’ or ‘We were on Facebook’,” says [owner], Mr Lucas, “and that is true, but I think we were the first to launch a whole new restaurant with millions of dollars in investment and basically pin our hopes 100 per cent on a social media strategy.”
Hiring a blogger certainly gives you a leg-up in the credibility stakes amongst a social media savvy audience, people like Jess Ho instinctively know how to generate conversation via these channels. But be warned, you shouldn’t be snapping up the nearest blogger for your venue just yet. This strategy needs as much consideration as your other recruitment decisions, the blogger needs to have the skills to adapt to a different environment. Jess Ho was a great hire because she also had a PR background.
In July, Shane Delia is hosting a Problogger Special Event at Maha. It was created specifically for bloggers of food, wine and foodie-related topics so that they may come together to learn and network – with the goal of building better blogs.
Attendees will get to listen to 3 presenters talk about food writing. The goal is to gather a group of like-minded people and provide them with an experience that will benefit their hobbies and careers.
The food isn’t really the sole focus of the event. It isn’t the reason that people will be attending. However, the initiative means that the restaurant will be a core focus of the citizen influencers that can generate a lot of conversation around the event.
Disclaimer: Shane Delia is a Village client. However as The Village Blogess, I had full editorial control over this post.
Vue de Monde
Cancellation tonight in Vue de mondeCall 96913888 if interested in dining.
— Vue de monde (@Vuedemonde) May 28, 2012
Vue De Monde will occasionally tweet when they have a cancellation and encourage people to call to snap up the free table. With waitlists and tables booked out for months at a time, this not only allows them to fill the tables in real time, it gives patrons a great reason to stay connected with Vue on Twitter.
Windsor Deli is famous for their conversational twitter account. Many food businesses use twitter solely for engaging and talking to their current customers. This is great for extending their reach, but it gives fans and customers little reason to continue to engage beyond the dining experience.
Katrina, who manages the social media presence, goes a step further by engaging in content marketing. She will retweet social content created by others, and link to content that supports complementary businesses. This allows her to use the twitter account as an extension of the highly social in-store experience.
As a strategy, content marketing requires a bit more thinking, planning and effort, but the rewards and loyalty towards your business can be worth it.
The Honey Bar
The Honey Bar has become one of the key locations for social media meet ups in Melbourne. The owner describes himself as a social media tragic and is a frequent tweeter. The conversation is often about his community, rather than his restaurant. We get to see the ‘man behind the restaurant’ in a truly authentic way.
This friendliness results in a lot of the local meetups and social presentations being held at The Honey Bar. The social media community knows that they are welcomed and often prefer to return a venue that presents in this approachable and open manner.
Der Raum have an established brand personality that delivers at every touchpoint. Der Raum is a brand that lives and breathes the meaning of “branded experience”. So it isn’t any surprise that the same attention to detail and tone extends to their twitter and Facebook accounts.
Maintaining a consistent brand personality offline and online is one of the hardest things to get right. But the seamless integration between the experience at the venue and all other touchpoints is something that patrons love when it is done well.
Earlier this year, I went to a meetup at the Campari House. It was the first time I had gone there and I had a fun night. I tweeted a couple of times about my experience there and didn´t think about it more.
They tweeted me back and had a friendly conversation. That one conversation led me to follow them and they are now one of the first places I would recommend when arranging intimate catch-ups with friends.
In addition to their engaging twitter presence, they have a well trafficked profile on Facebook. They leverage an application that allows customers to book online and arrange events through the Facebook page.
Beatbox Kitchen is a mobile Burger Shack that turns up at a new location for lunch and dinner. They have an incredibly basic twitter and Facebook presence that primarily consists of broadcasting their location. As they are mobile, this is essential for their fans to stay up to date of their location, but we can’t help but wonder if they could be using this channel to engage with their passionate fans a little more! Will be one to watch as they develop.
The Stokehouse twitter presence has a strong focus on displaying social proof. They retweet the content that other people have created such as compliments and images from their meals. When done tastefully, this can be an effective content marketing strategy.
Royal Mail Hotel
The Royal Mail Hotel isn´t in Melbourne but is a fantastic case study. They are located in Dunkeld, near the Grampians. Their twitter presence has two main focuses. The primary twitter account provides tweets about the surrounding area and local events. A key feature (at the time of writing) was the Dunkeld Adventure hike. A lot of their tweets were targeted at those who were participating in this event – the type of people who would need a bed and a good meal afterwards.
A clear, sunny morning for the last leg of @DunkeldAdvnture‘s 2.5 day, 80km Grampians hike, finishing in Dunkeld this afternoon. Go teams!
— Royal Mail Hotel (@royalmailhotel) June 10, 2012
Additionally, The chef @ChefDanHunter has his own twitter account, giving patrons a behind the scenes insight and the additional ‘access’ that social media users have come to expect from the medium.
When compared to some other highly socialised categories it’s clear there is still a lot of potential for additional innovation in the hospitality, food and beverage communications space. We tip our hats to these 10 who are rolling up their sleeves and giving it a red hot go, experimenting, trialling new things and responding to customer’s feedback.
If you could give these venues one cracking social media tactic to trial, what would it be? Let us know in the comments.