Over the last decade, social media has transformed the way people communicate, becoming a critical part of marketing for every restaurant from big chains to local eateries. With the variety of platforms and low cost of entry, standing out successfully can be difficult. We rounded up five Restaurant Social Media Campaigns from 2014 that each teach an important lesson about using social media to market your restaurant.
LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS – Five Guys
When Five Guys introduced milkshakes to their menu, they encouraged customers to share their thoughts on social media with the simple #ShakeYourShake hashtag. HootSuite reports that the campaign “generated thousands of interactions, thanks to an easy-to-remember tag that made it easier for customers to share visually engaging content.” Five Guys’ social listening on Facebook and Twitter has also led to fine-tuning their soundtrack. “We realized that our music was kind of stuck in ’70s and ’80s classic rock, so we let the ’90s in,” said Molly Catalano, the rep for Five Guys. “And then positive sentiment increased.”
NEVER SLEEP – Arby’s
Who would have guessed that a QSR’s perfect social media moment would be during the Grammys? “With an eye to the red carpet on music’s big night and a perfectly timed nine-word tweet, Arby’s won the Internet,” says Restaurant Business. Arby’s owes a bit of their success to producer/singer Pharrel’s choice in hat, but their quick, witty response was what earned them recognition. They tweeted, “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs”. Being in the right place at the right time helped them go viral with over 80,500 retweets. Arby’s later showed they weren’t all talk when they bought Pharrell’s hat for $44,100. Their success goes to show that you can’t sleep on social media, or you might miss a golden opportunity.
BE WHERE YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE – Culver’s
Culver’s was looking to engage with younger potential customers without paid media advertising, so they turned to Instagram. David Stidham, VP of marketing for Culver’s, explains, “About 90 percent of all the ‘Instagram folks’ are under the age of 35, so we wanted to have some fun with the younger guests. We needed a place where we could connect with these younger customers without really advertising to them.” The Instagram-first campaign features 15-second animated parodies of classic movie and television shows with #CulversCommunityTheater.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX – Taco Bell
When Taco Bell One launched their mobile ordering app, they wanted all focus to be on the new system. “We needed to do something right out of the gate that people would notice, and what better way to notice and drive people to the new way to Taco Bell than [a] blackout?” said Chris Brandt, Taco Bell’s CMO. When users visited Taco Bell’s social platforms, they were greeted with the message that Taco Bell is “#onlyintheapp,” and are given a link to the download. According to AdAge, just “24 hours after launch, Taco Bell said 75 percent of all stores already had processed a mobile order.”
BE TRANSPARENT – McDonald’s
After realizing millennials are favoring chains like Chipotle, McDonald’s launched an “Our Food. Your questions.” campaign that encourages customers to ask any questions they have online. While this isn’t the first time McDonald’s had tried to be completely transparent, it’s the first time they’re doing it on social media. According to AdAge, Ben Stringfellow, VP-communications for McDonald’s USA, explained “We have great information to share and we’re looking forward to engaging in two-way conversations with as many people as possible.”
Social media is here to stay and avoiding it is no longer an option. It’s never too late to join the social media game, so take a hint from some of these food service pros and join your customers’ conversations.