The following post is a contribution by Misty Young, President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Squeeze In.
As a restaurant consultant, I often hear, “On social media, I just don’t know where to start, it all seems so overwhelming!” It doesn’t have to be, and, you don’t have to do everything, you just have to do something — and you have to start now. You have to meet your customers where they are: mobile.
My restaurants, the Squeeze In, known for the “Best Omelettes on the Planet” in the Tahoe/Reno area have already been in the social/mobile space for a few years. We have an app; Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram accounts, among others. We think it’s fun. It’s also business. If your iPhone is sitting on the table at the Squeeze In, chances are likely one of our associates will ask you, “Do you have our app? You can get a free upgrade today and every day with it!” They might also say to a group enjoying themselves, “Hey guys, you’re obviously having a great time, I’d be happy to take your picture!” Those get posted without us asking. It’s both fun AND smart! And the app? We show over $11,800 in sales attributed to it, and have folks tell us they use the tip calculator at ours and other restaurants! That’s great, ROI AND fun!
In 2009, there were 450 million mobile Internet users worldwide. Today, there are about 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions — a nearly 800% increase in just three years. 86% of the global population is now represented by a mobile subscription. Mobile is where we find everything: movies, shoes, utility companies, jewelry, clothing, restaurants — you name it. The search starts in the palm of your customer’s hand. As I write this, I’m sitting in an airport lounge. Four of the five people near me are browsing on phones or tablets. Your customer’s first impression of your business is likely to happen on a mobile device, make a good one.
Here are three things you MUST DO today:
1. Build a database. You do not have a business if you don’t have a list, a database, a way to track and reach out to your customers, clients, patients, guests. The database is the single most important and FIRST step to take. Get as much info as you can: name, address, mobile phone number and email address to begin with. Once you’ve built the relationship a bit further, you can ask for more info. Your database is critical.
2. Your company must have a mobile website. This is a slimmed down version of your main website, with the basics: Who, what, where, when. Successful mobile sites are graphically simple with an “interface for fingers.” It’s straightforward: a line of code immediately detects when a mobile is visiting your website and seamlessly redirects to your easy-on-the-eyes-and-fingers mobile. Don’t lose your guests/customers by not meeting them where they are — they will let more than their fingers to do the walking if you make it tough for them to get what they want.
3. You have to go social. There’s no mystery about social media, it just means “interactive” or “two way.” That’s it. Set up a two way conversation with your customers and do it today. Start with a Facebook page. Put up some photos, videos (these get the most traction and attention), invite your friends and existing customers to go be part of the conversation. Don’t “post and ghost.” Once you post, interact, stick around and come back regularly. Hit the “like” button. Do a poll. Create and join in the interactivity and have fun with it.
Mass media is old school: micro media is new school, meeting your customer in the palm of their hand. Mobile isn’t smart business, it’s essential business. Your communications strategy always has to start and end with meeting your customers where they are, on their mobile devices.
We’ve been fortunate enough these last few years to expand and build our now four restaurants by squeezing all the benefit out of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, heck, we even have a myspace page! It might sound scary, but it doesn’t bite. I’ll be sharing lots of what we’ve made happen and how we’ve done it at a very special small business gathering next month in New York City being presented by Pitney Bowes and Google. It’s free and will be live streamed so why not join me? We’ll be taking questions so it might be the right time to think about putting your toe in the water. I can’t wait to meet you in the digisphere!