Social Butterflies Take Flight: Facebook, Tweeter and Foursquare- Oh My!

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So they say talk is cheap – and with the advent of social media it is easier than ever to generate talk. (And cheaper too!)

For restaurants, word of mouth is a powerful marketing strategy, as the most trusted and best advice often comes from the friends your respect the most. With the widespread use of social media as exemplified by Facebook, twitter, Foursquare and whatever the next generation of social media will be, restaurants can take advantage of these new forms of interaction to communicate with guests. And the best part is their loyal fans that post, blog and endorse them –can also really help the restaurants build business. Of course, the flip side of this –is negative reviews and commentary can also show up and do damage to restaurants –but we won’t go to the dark side for this piece.

Foursquare, one of the hottest social media vehicles right now, invites players to broadcast their chosen venues to all of their friends – acting as advocates and demonstrating their support of a given locale. At the same time, restaurants can incentivize Foursquare players to visit frequently by offering specials or deals for the “mayor” (most frequent visitor). Chefs can tweet on twitter that they just brought in a limited amount of a special ingredient and thus promote an exciting daily special — come in tonight – we only have six orders of fresh uni from Santa Barbara, still in the shell – and if it works I guarantee the uni will be gone in a flash.

Restaurants with fan pages can introduce new promotions and publicize events via Facebook, instantly, conveniently and effectively. And perhaps even better, their guests can almost instantly spread the word to all of their friends. Social media offers the powerful potential of viral marketing, and brings restaurants to anyone who participates.

So if you have a favorite restaurant –become a facebook fan, follow the chef on twitter and become the mayor on Foursquare. Ultimately, you will reap the benefits of being such a loyalist –and with social media so will all your friends – all 1000 of them that is.

About The Author

Prior to opening Andrew Freeman & Co., a full service boutique consulting agency specializing in hospitality and restaurants in 2007, Andrew started his career working with several legendary New York venues including The Rainbow Room, The Russian Tea Room and Windows on The World. In addition to running the day to day marketing/public relations activities at these famed New York restaurants, Andrew was also responsible for the creation and management of their special events and catering departments. At all three venues, he also launched and then oversaw successful outside catering businesses. Andrew left New York in 1997 and departed for San Francisco to join Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. He spent ten years with Kimpton, launching over 40 hotels and restaurants as well as the global brand. For his first five years with the company, Andrew was first Director and then Vice President of Restaurant Sales and Marketing. In this role, he worked with the restaurant team on the creation, launch activities and marketing/public relations programs for the group’s chef driven restaurant concepts and private dining venues. He was then promoted to Vice President of Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships for both the hotel and restaurant divisions. In this role, Andrew was responsible for strategic development and execution of all public and media relations activities. During his tenure Andrew also spearheaded several programs with industry and community partners including Kimpton Cares, a social responsibility program and Kimpton Hotels LGBT travel program which has garnered numerous awards and positioned Kimpton as one of the Top Companies for LGBT employment. Andrew also contributed to the launch of Kimpton’s highly successful Women in Touch program which became the spring-board for their national partnership with Dress for Success, an organization which helps low-income women enter the workforce and excel in their new jobs. Today, Andrew Freeman & Co. is busy consulting hotel clients, Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, The Lodge at Sonoma, The River Terrace Inn, and Bay Area restaurant clients, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Barbacco, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, étoile at Domaine Chandon, ETO, Fifth Floor, Grand Café and Poggio. Andrew Freeman & Co. is also proud to be an intricate part of SF.Chefs.Food.Wine a food and wine event that celebrates the unique flavor, diversity and bounty of Northern California. The annual event incorporates tasting tents, classes, seminars and an array of activities while supporting local charities such as the San Francisco Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, The Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation and Project Open Hand. Andrew is honored to have also worked with JW Marriott/Marriott, Larkspur Hotels, Magnolia Bakery, Personality Hotels, the Palm Restaurant Group, and W Hotels. In 2009, Andrew Freeman & Co. launched a New York City office and is proudly serving clients including Pranna, Incentient and David Burke Restaurant Group. Andrew also works with a variety of clients on sales and service training, as well as concept development and operations refinement.

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