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Your Digital Identity Technology & Social Media Trends for Restaurants

Early Summer 2014

Big Social Media Profile Changes on the Horizon June 12, 2014 Article by Sara Flick

Brands looking to make the most of their social media profiles should be aware of two updates that are going on with Facebook and LinkedIn. First, as of right now every brand on Facebook — all 30 million of them — can update their pages to the newest configuration. The new design, which was available to larger brands before now, replaces the two column timeline with a single column and takes away the thumbnail images from the tabs under the main cover photo. Also included in the new design is the ability to move around important brand information tabs such as reviews, menus and photos in the top navigation menu and the left column. Some information businesses like to prominently display, such as phone numbers, hours of operation, photos, reviews and maps will show up on the left-side column on the page. The new design also makes brand pages look more like personal pages and is intended to make a brand’s Facebook page easier to search through. Facebook said that those brands which have been putting off the switch will be given one last chance to delay the inevitable: “Admins that want to update their Pages before switching to the new design can wait up to two weeks before making the switch. However, every Page will automatically switch to the updated design two weeks after the tour has been viewed.” Meanwhile, LinkedIn is just starting its profile redesign. The new design will feature a large cover photo in addition to the small headshot most profiles take advantage of, which is reminiscent of Facebook, Twitter and Google+. For now, most users won’t be affected by the new profile option because it’s only available to LinkedIn premium users. LinkedIn also announced several other upgrades that premium users can take advantage of for about ten dollars a month. Some of the other features that will be available for those willing to pay up include:

• Help optimizing profiles with specific keywords to improve search results • The option to make your profile “open,” fully visible to all LinkedIn members • The ability to see every profile visitor for the last 90 days • Instant access to the top 100 results for How You Rank versus your connections and company peers • Being given a more prominent showing and display when people are using the search function inside LinkedIn All of this comes just a few short weeks after Twitter announced its own profile redesign, which also features a large background image and a smaller feature image. The new setup is being used right now by a small group of test users and it will be rolled out to everyone soon. Twitter’s new profile also allows users to customize some other features to highlight specific tweets or information: Best Tweets: The more engagement a tweet has received, the bigger the font. Pinned Tweet: Users can pick a single tweet to pin to the top of the page to highlight that one tweet. Filtered Tweets: Users now have an option on how to view other uses’ profiles: Tweets, Tweets with photos/videos, or Tweets and replies. These three social networks all seem to have the same goal of making profiles as visual as possible while providing brands and users additional customization options. Not updating a profile to take advantage of every opportunity, including the use of images, is one of the biggest mistakes brands can make. Brands that want to stand out from the tens of millions of other users across the multiple platforms should keep an eye on these updates and take advantage of the opportunities that are coming soon.

Be on the lookout for profile page design changes for LinkedIn (top) and Twitter (bottom) 3

Facebook Pages Now Offer Restaurant Menus May 23, 2014 In late May, Facebook announced that they would begin offering restaurants the option for their menus to be displayed on their page tabs via SinglePlatform or PDF upload. Prior to this, restaurants could add menus via a more complicated process with various tab apps. The steps below demonstrate how to add your restaurant menu to your Facebook page if you don’t have SinglePlatform.

Restaurants that want to take advantage of this feature need to: 1. Click “Edit Page” 2. Click “Edit Settings” from the dropdown window

3. Click the “Page Info” tab 4. Click “Show Menu on Your Page” 5. Choose either Single Platform, PDF Upload (Max size 1 MB), or Don’t Show a Menu. Note that 1 MB is a very small file size for a menu PDF, so menu graphics may need to be compressed or eliminated. Restaurants that currently work with SinglePlatform will have their menu automatically added to their restaurant’s Facebook page. 4

5 Reasons Your Main Social Media Focus Should Be Your Blog June 14, 2014

1. You own your blog

You do not own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. But what you do own is your blog. This means there are fewer restrictions when it comes to the format of what you want to post. More importantly, it means that the rules aren’t going to change anytime soon. You never have to worry if your blog is going to change its news feed algorithm, if the post is too long, or if the rules will be set in such a way that you now need to pay to reach new or existing fans. Most importantly, you will always have your content. You put lots of effort into your content marketing, and you should be hosting it on your platform. Social media can be fickle, and today's hot new toy can be tomorrow's forgotten network. Obviously you still want to place your content on other channels, but make sure you are also storing it on your blog.

2. Keep potential and current customers on your site

You are a marketer. You are trying to get people to buy more of whatever it is you sell. This is more easily accomplished when they are already on your site. When people are on your site, they can learn about you and your business more readily. When they see your message on a different social media platform, there is an extra step necessary to redirect them to your site. The more times people have to click, the more likely they are to become disinterested. Simply put, it is easier to educate and convert potential clients and customers on your site then on someone else’s site.

3. Email marketing

Email marketing is not dead, not by a long shot. And your own blog or website is the easiest way to obtain your customers’ email addresses. On other social media platforms, this is more

difficult, if not impossible. Email marketing is valuable because there are few restrictions on reaching your own fans. It is easy to miss a post on Instagram or Twitter, and Facebook picks and chooses what to show your fans. Email allows you to get your message directly to your fans.

4. Use your blog as content for your social media

Social Research Strategies uses its own blog as content for all social media platforms. On Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter we share our most recent blog articles. On Twitter we share these posts several times. And again on Twitter, we break down our blog articles sentence by sentence and turn them into informative tweets. Think about your blog like a conscientious hunter (or chef ) would think of an animal: no part of the post should go to waste. The more you are able to repurpose the content in your blog, the more mileage you will get out of it.

5. Better educate your audience

Blogs are the best platform for when you have more than an image or 140 characters to share. Some ideas cannot be shared in a tweet, a picture, or a Facebook post. Blogs allow for more nuanced presentation and discussions of ideas. Educating your audience increases your perceived expertise. This trust helps build your brand. When you are an authority on a topic, your credibility increases. When a potential or current customer views you as a trustworthy source, sales follow. Do not take this advice as a reason to neglect your other social media platforms. Instead, make sure that you are putting enough effort into your own blog.

Chili’s Installs More Than 45,000 Ziosk Tablets June 9, 2014

Less than eight months after announcing a partnership to bring tabletop tablets to all company-owned restaurants, Ziosk, makers of the world's first ordering, entertainment and pay-at-the table tablet, and Chili's Grill & Bar have completed the largest rollout of tabletop tablets in the U.S., installing more than 45,000 Ziosk tablets in 823 company-owned Chili's restaurants. "This rollout marks the first time a restaurant company has installed communal tablets at this scale, and we were able to complete it two months ahead of schedule, bringing up to 6,600 tablets online per day," says Austen Mulinder, CEO of Ziosk. "We are focused next on installing Ziosk in the remaining franchise-owned Chili's. By this fall, guests at nearly every Chili's in the country can place orders, play games and pay their checks from our tabletop tablets." 5

How the Net Neutrality Issue Could Affect Independent Restaurants May 14, 2014 Article by Jason Freed

Debate over businesses purchasing premium Internet access speeds, which in effect could hinder independent restaurants’ ability to compete online with big chains, is frothing over and causing the Federal Communications Commission to revise its plan.

lane but any company that wanted to pay more could access a “fast lane.” (Read: Yes, Comcast can charge Darden $1 zillion for faster Internet response time so long as Joe’s Deli has the same opportunity to pay $1 zillion for the same speed.)

Internet service providers—the big names being Comcast, AT&T and Verizon—are hoping to charge businesses premium prices to provide them with a faster tier Internet connection. Businesses that can’t afford the premium service will be relegated to a “slow lane,” which would diminish their website’s response time and potentially drive away visitors and harm search-engine placement, according to Tim Peter, founder of Tim Peter & Associates, a digital marketing consultancy for hotels and restaurants.

A backlash ensued. “This is bad for business, period. People should be contacting their local legislators, saying this is a terrible idea,” Peter notes. “In 20 years working with the Internet, this is the worst idea I’ve ever heard.”

“Google does take into account the response time of your website in determining search rankings. Joe’s Deli might not even show up on the first page of results because Darden and McDonald’s and corporate-owned restaurants are going to dominate the search rankings because they can respond more quickly,” Peter explains.

“You shouldn’t have to pay more to reach more people,” he says. “Once you upload your content you should reach everyone. You should be as open to the world as your competitor.”

“This is a nightmare because what the web has enabled for its entire existence has been a level playing field and now this skews it,” Peter continues. “If you’re a new restaurant, you don’t have the money to do this. If I were a small restaurant I would think this is the worst thing in the history of the Internet.” The fundamentals of the issue are this: ISPs want to be able to charge companies—like Netflix, for example—more to deliver their content to consumers. Up until recently, the FCC has said ISPs can’t do that, citing network neutrality laws. However, earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled the FCC can’t make that regulation because ISPs are technically considered information services rather than common carriers. After the ruling, documents were leaked showing the FCC was planning new standards that would allow ISPs to charge higher-tier prices so long as they offer these “commercially reasonably terms” to everyone. Essentially, all businesses would have free use of a regular


Peter says the Internet since its inception has leveled the playing field for small restaurants with fewer marketing dollars to compete with large chains.

Even Internet behemoths like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon have spoken out publicly against tiering Internet access, understanding net neutrality is best for all parties involved. An Internet blackout was proposed for May 15 to draw attention to the issue. In response, the FCC recently said it will revise its proposed rules, including assurances that it won't allow companies to segregate Web traffic into “fast and slow lanes.” The agency said it will take a similar approach to allowing paid models but that the FCC will scrutinize the deals to make sure that the broadband providers “don't unfairly put nonpaying companies' content at a disadvantage,” according to a Wall Street Journal report. While only time will tell how it all shakes out, “at the end of the day, true net neutrality is the right thing to do,” Peter says.

Websites Working Hard We can often look to the chains to learn best marketing practices. Currentlty, some of them are using popup windows on their website home pages. Dunkin Donuts pops up a floating window with a clear call-to-action promoting timely specials or seasonal items. Ruth’s Chris Steak House uses the opportunity to collect names and e-mail addresses to add to their marketing database. In each case, the floating window must be clicked or dismissed before the website home page can be accessed. Especially in light of Facebook’s recent organic reach algorithm changes, e-mail marketing is a far more reliable way to reach your customers, so talk to your web designer about how to efficiently collect names and addresses from visitors to your website.


5 Ways Your Restaurant Will Benefit From Yelp April 3, 2014 As a restaurant owner or manager, you likely already know why having a positive Yelp presence is so important for your business. Besides the fact that it attracts more than 120 million unique visitors per month, according to a Berkley research study, a half-star improvement on Yelp’s 5-star rating makes it 30 to 49 percent more likely that a restaurant will sell out for the evening! If you haven’t paid much attention lately to how you are doing on Yelp, don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, you have been pretty busy running your restaurant. But because we know how demanding your schedule is, we want to save you some time by sharing these five easy strategies to make Yelp more effective for your business.

1) Embrace Yelp - Don’t be a hater

Like it or not, Yelp is a powerful marketing tool today’s restaurants need to strengthen their reputation and bring guests through the door. The good news is that with the right attitude and know-how, Yelp can add tremendous value to your business. The first step is embracing Yelp and recognizing what it can do for your restaurant.

2 ) Encourage loyal guests to post a review without bribing them

Your loyal customers will be glad to put in a good word for your restaurant on Yelp. To encourage them to take action, simply ask them courteously to publish a review. But don’t try to incentivize

them with coupons or free food and drinks in exchange for their review and don’t ask them specifically for a positive review. Not only is it poor etiquette, it goes against Yelp’s policies.

3) Respond to negative reviews promptly and professionally

No matter how great your restaurant is, there will always be a critic. If you do flag some negative reviews about your restaurant on Yelp, respond to the guest promptly and courteously. But avoid getting a hot head over it, which will only intensify the situation.

4 ) Claim and optimize your Yelp listing

Make the most out of your Yelp listing by claiming it and optimizing your restaurant’s presence with photos, your restaurant’s current address and contact information, hours of operation, etc. Make your Yelp profile shine and don’t forget to add photos!

5) Be prepared for the newly implemented restaurant inspection scores on Yelp

Not that you need an excuse to make your restaurant’s cleanliness a top priority, but restaurant owners should be aware of Yelp’s new feature which makes restaurant hygiene scores visible to its users. Yelp’s new restaurant inspection scores first rolled out in New York and San Francisco and are quickly being followed by other U.S. markets.

Quick Tips to Improve Your Instagram Account May 22, 2014 You might already have an Instagram account for your restaurant. If not, you definitely should—with over 60 million photos shared daily, it’s one of the most popular social media platforms! It can help you grow your bar or restaurant business—that is, if you use it correctly. If you think your Instagram account could use a little sprucing up, check out these quick tips to improve your Instagram presence.

Offer deals to your followers.

Focus on more than just food.

It’s important to engage your customers and encourage them to share. One way you can do this is by asking questions and getting your customers to post their photos. Starbucks did this when it asked, “What do you want 5 minutes more of?” The company chose a hashtag and encouraged customers to share their answers on Instagram.

Your food looks great, and you want to show it off to customers. But if picture after picture simply showcases plates full of food, your customers will get bored. It’s important to take pictures of things other than food. Take an example from restaurant chain Buca di Beppo. The company posts pictures of staff members, décor, promotions, and more. This shows personality and makes your feed a lot more interesting.

Use hashtags.

Don’t forget about the power of hashtags! Just like on Twitter, hashtags can help your customers find you. For example, let’s say your restaurant is located in Cleveland. By hashtagging your photo #Cleveland, anyone searching for that tag (including potential diners) will come across your photo. 8

Give your customers a reason to follow you. Sharing photos is great, but make sure your customers are also getting something. Many companies share photos of their new promotions or share discount codes. If customers know they’ll be the first to find out about new deals, they’ll be more likely to follow you.

Ask your followers questions.

Use good photos.

This should go without saying, but it’s extra important: make sure your photos showcase your restaurant in the best possible light. Unappetizing food won’t get more followers or encourage anyone to eat at your restaurant. You don’t necessarily have to hire a professional photographer, but you do need to make sure your restaurant and your food look great. Instagram can be a great way to build business and increase sales, but only if you use it right! By following these tips, you can improve your bar or restaurant Instagram account ASAP!

4 Major Signs You Need to Invest in Social Media for Your Restaurant April 25, 2014

If you aren’t yet on the social media bandwagon, you might be wondering how it could help your restaurant. Shouldn’t you be focusing on your food and service instead of managing your social media accounts? While great food and service will never go out of style, it’s foolish to think that you don’t have to do anything else to run a successful restaurant. Just about every business can benefit from social media. In fact, here are four major signs you need to invest in social media for your restaurant. Do any of these sound familiar?

1 ) You don’t have many repeat customers

Social media is often where customers go to brag about great meals they just ate, ask questions about restaurants, and complain about meals that didn’t go well. While logging on just to see customer complaints might not sound like your idea of fun, think of what happens if you aren’t around to address those complaints. You never get the chance to make it up to the customer, change his/her mind, or invite him/her back to your restaurant…which means that you just lost a customer for life! If you haven’t built up a loyal customer base that returns to your restaurant again and again, then you need to utilize social media. It’s a great way to encourage customers who loved you to come back and convince unhappy customers to give you another shot.

2 ) People don’t seem to know you’re there

You can have the best food in the world, but if no one knows your restaurant exists, no one’s going to buy it. If you’re a new restaurant, situated in a less-busy neighborhood, or in a hidden location, many customers may simply not even know about you! Social media is a great way to get the word out and let people know who and where you are.

3) No one’s ordering your new specials

Maybe you have an awesome happy hour, but no one’s coming out for it. Or, maybe you just introduced your new spring entrees, but no one seems to care. It might be that no one knows about the great deals at your restaurant. Social media is perfect for this! Tweeting about your happy hour, posting pictures of your entrees on Instagram, and telling your Facebook fans about your new specials are all awesome ways to get the word out about what you have to offer.

4 ) You can’t afford other types of advertising

Advertising and promoting your restaurant can get expensive fast. Most forms of social media, however, are free or relatively cheap. Even if you can’t afford to spend much on promotions, social media is an extremely effective way to get the word out about your restaurant, build a community, and engage your customers. Do any of these signs apply to you? If so, you should consider using social media for your restaurant!

Instagram Adds 10 Photo-Editing Tools June 3, 2014 Facebook-owned social photo and videosharing network Instagram announced 10 new tools that are available to users under its photo filter menu. The new tools are: Filter Strength, Adjust, Brightness, Contrast, Warmth, Saturation, Highlights, Shadows, Vignette, and Sharpen. When you go to select a filter, you’ll now see a new wrench icon. Tap it and you’ll find a tray of photo editing tools ready for you to explore. You can also now adjust how much of a filter you apply to a photo by double-tapping the filter icon. 9

Five Steps to Overcome Facebook’s Algorithm Changes April 22, 2014 Article by Chris Moreno

How to increase reach and ROI

Facebook’s organic reach is on a steady decline, forcing bloggers, businesses, brands, charities and other groups that rely on Facebook posts to convey announcements and other information to fans to change their marketing strategies. There are two key reasons behind the drop in organic reach. First, Facebook says people are liking more fan pages, yet are reading their newsfeed for the same amount of time each day, creating competition for visibility. Second, algorithm changes have given posts from friends prominence over posts from brands in an effort to give users what they want to see. Facebook’s solution is paying to use promoted posts to increase the reach, turning the previously free platform into a place where it pays to pay. Brands and other groups that invested heavily in acquiring new fans through paid advertising are obviously upset. Facebook’s response is that brands shouldn’t think of fans as a way to spread messages for free, it should think of a fan base as a way to make Facebook paid ads more effective through targeting. While blogs and businesses that enjoyed the free marketing channel in the past may not like it, it’s true; targeting specific audiences and subgroups of a fan base is the most effective way of pushing messages to Facebook users. How far has the organic reach fallen? Emarketer looked at the organic reach of branded Facebook pages and saw a distinct decline since February 2012. According to the research, the median organic reach worldwide fell from 16.0% in February 2012 to 6.5% in March 2014. With further algorithm changes expected, and more fan pages being liked every day, organic reach is predicted to decline even further going forward.

Here is what businesses should be doing to increase the impact of their Facebook marketing: Maximize organic reach: While organic reach is shrinking, quality posts that invite likes and shares can still outperform averages and reach mass audiences. Posts that include pictures and videos attract more engagement than posts with words or links alone. While Facebook is cracking down on like-baiting, posts that ask questions and invite comments are still not only allowed, but encouraged. Create audiences from current fans: Targeting is the social media optimization tool that brands on Facebook need to take advantage of today because of its ability to increase the effectiveness of existing content and paid advertisements while increasing ROI. Facebook’s native targeting options are becoming deeper, allowing businesses to break down audiences into even smaller segments and provide uniquely created content to those small groups. Facebook users can be broken down by location, demographics, interest and behaviors. Inside those four main options are several more subgroups, allowing advertisers to break down the groups even smaller. By starting a targeting strategy with a list of Facebook users that have already liked a page, brands can begin by looking at people that already know the brand, enjoy the brand and most likely have spent money supporting the brand. Target groups outside of fans: Facebook’s targeting options allow businesses to specifically target users who are not already fans of the page. While most brands use this to gather new fans, it can also be used in conjunction with targeting options to send specialized content to potential consumers who might not know about the brands or might be a fan of a different brand. (See image at top of next page.) By filtering out the current fan base, brands can create specific ads that are made to attract new customers instead of reinforcing current opinions, increasing the effectiveness of the ads and ROI. Create customized content: By breaking down current fans into small subgroups, brands can push content that is meant to appeal specifically to those subgroups. Users who relate to a sponsored post are more likely to comment, like or share, spreading it even further and increasing the odds of affecting the decision path of the user in the future, reducing waste and increasing ROI. Measure and adjust: Facebook paid advertising optimization requires constant vigilance in the form of metrics and continual content updating based on results. Facebook metrics to specifically keep an eye on include reach, paid reach, likes, comments, shares and traffic from posts to other digital assets like websites. Brands can get around the diminished organic reach by emphasizing content that creates engagement and spreads naturally while minimizing posts that don’t. Facebook’s organic reach is not coming back if for no other reason than Facebook makes more money by enticing brands to pay for visibility on the platform. Brands, blogs and other organizations with fan pages may not like the fact that their fans aren’t seeing as many posts as before, but with targeted paid ads, they can get out the word without breaking the budget.


Facebook’s advertising options allow incredibly specific targeting. For the money, no other advertising medium can so accurately target your current or prospective customers.

Square’s new Order App for Restaurants May 12, 2014 Article by Todd Wasserman

Square recently introduced an app called Square Order that lets customers preorder meals and coffee from restaurants.

With Square Order, the company again finds itself in a category of similar services like GrubHub Seamless, which also offers restaurant deliveries.

The app, which is available on iOS but still in beta on Android, is built on the premise of of Square Market, an Amazon competitor that Square introduced in 2013. Square added a restaurant preorder feature to Market last month. While Square Market is designed for the desktop, Square Order is an app designed for mobile use.

The launch comes as Square seeks new revenue streams to augment its existing business, which is based on a 2.75% cut of transactions with merchants. Square is also rumored to be pursuing an IPO, though a Fox Business report from February dubbed such an offering unlikely in 2014.

A Square rep says Square Order works with only a few restaurants in New York and San Francisco right now. She declined to say which restaurants are using it and how many are on board. In iTunes, Square says you can order from Whole Foods stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. On the same day Square launched Square Order, it pulled Square Wallet from the App Store. Launched in 2011, Square Wallet lets you preorder items from participating restaurants (including Starbucks) and then pick them up just by using your name. Square Order works the same way. Square will continue to support Square Wallet even though it's no longer in the App Store.


Swarm, The New App From Foursquare And What It Means For Your Bar May 30, 2014

You’re probably familiar with Foursquare, the app that customers can use to “check in” to your bar, let their friends know where they’re hanging out, and even become “mayor” by checking in more than any other customers. You may even have used Foursquare to run contests or offer rewards to customers who check in a certain number of times. However, with the introduction of Swarm, your Foursquare experience may totally change. Swarm is a brand-new smartphone app from Foursquare. The company is now splitting its focus between two apps. The Foursquare you know and love will now be used mainly for helping customers discover bars and restaurants, while Swarm will be used for checking in. So what does this mean for you? For starters, if you use Foursquare to run promotions, you’ll definitely want to be aware of Swarm and what is changing. Swarm is a little different than Foursquare–namely, it has the ability to automatically tell where customers are. This means that customers don’t have to manually check in to your bar–their smartphone (or other device) will do that for them. As Dennis Crowley, the CEO and founder of Foursquare, puts it: “We’re trying to race toward this world where we understand what you’re

doing, and we understand where you’re going, and before you think about asking Foursquare to help you find something, we say this is the thing around the corner you should know about.” Aside from automatic tracking, Swarm is changing some other things, too. Instead of competing with everyone for mayorship of your bar, customers will now be competing with only their friends. This can make things fresher and more interesting, since unseating long-time mayors in Foursquare could be pretty much impossible. Swarm will also make it easy for customers to meet up at your bar. With the “Plans” feature, customers can easily ask their friends in the same city if they’re up for getting a beer or dinner. The “Neighborhood Sharing” feature lets customers know when their friends are in the same neighborhood (and available to hang out at your bar!). Swarm’s features sound promising for bar owners – automatic location tracking will make it completely effortless for customers to check in, and its features will make it even easier for people to share their locations and meet up with friends. If you’re a Foursquare fan, be sure you keep up on Swarm’s developments!

Boost Your Odds of Crowdfunding Success Crowdfunding has proven to be a popular way for entrepreneurs, particularly restaurant operators, to tap nontraditional funding sources. Maybe it’s become too popular, to the point where fund-seekers now have to figure out how to make their campaign stand out on the ever-more-crowded crowdfunding sites. No matter how cool your idea, you need a strategy if you want to have a realistic chance of getting it funded. Keep in mind that crowdfunding sites have become an industry unto themselves. Kickstarter alone hosts roughly 5,000 campaigns per day. So many food and restaurant startups now hope to crowdfund a venture that a dedicated site,, has sprung up to handle some of the traffic. Crowdfunding blog has come up with a free guide that will help novice crowdfunders get started. You’ll find plenty of valuable advice in the article “Complete Crowdfunding Guide for Food-related Kickstarter Projects,” which can be found on the Crowdcrux site. It’s is a contributed article by guest poster Elena Mikhaylova, c.e.o. of Crowdfund Productions, a crowdfunding consulting service. Her advice is Kickstarter-specific, but is readily adaptable to other funding platforms. Mikhaylova produced her guide by interviewing seven food businesses that successfully crowdfunded their idea. However, the interviewees are candid about the many mistakes they made in the process—there were some failures along the way—and are forthcoming about what they’d do the next time around. 12 June 9, 2014

Some of the key takeaways: • It’s not just about the money. “Starting a Kickstarter campaign can be a great way to test the marketplace’s receptiveness to your product, attract media attention and connect with a larger community, as well as raise funds for a project.” • Don’t start from absolute zero. “Kickstarter is all about momentum. You need initial backers or your project will hardly be seen.” • Seeing is buying. “ If nothing else, invest your time, energy, and money in a good video.” There are plenty of other tips and strategies in this free guide, which takes just 15 minutes to read. Perhaps the most surprising is that, according to Mikhaylova, Kickstarter campaigns should be team efforts. “Teams are usually doing better than individual creators in attracting the crowd’s money. On one hand, they have more opportunities to prepare and promote their campaign. At the same time, potential backers feel more confident in a team’s ability to deliver a product [vs. an individual on their own].” There’s plenty of good advice in this guide, most of it hard-earned via real-world Kickstarter campaigns. Give it a read if you’re thinking about ways you could grow your restaurant business without going into hock or giving up part of your precious equity.

Social Media Reviews, Ratings Trump Traditional Advertising Customer ratings influence restaurant traffic more than conventional marketing, survey finds

May 16, 2014

Article by Lisa Jennings

Social media reviews and search engine rankings on sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon are more important than traditional advertising and promotions, according to a recent survey of franchise restaurant operators by GE Capital, Franchise Finance, or GEFF. In a survey conducted at the recent Restaurant Leadership Conference March 30 - April 2, about 104 respondents offered insights on their views of the digital world and its influence. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they consider customer ratings and comments on social media sites a more important influencer of restaurant traffic than traditional advertising, while another 35 percent said such ratings were just as important. Moreover, 45 percent said they consider search engine rankings and consumer reviews on sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon to be a more important influencer, while another 43 percent see them as equal to traditional marketing. “Restaurant consumers are connected online, so it’s imperative that franchisees meet them where they are,” said Shannon Tolbert, chief marketing officer of GEFF. “We’re seeing an intense battle for

market share among brands in the U.S. Those who reach consumers through social media and digital marketing strategies will likely have an edge.” About one quarter of respondents, or 24 percent, said their capabilities of managing social media reviews and search engine rankings were excellent, while 45 percent said their ability to manage such online activity was “satisfactory.” Another 29 percent, however, said they could do better, but lacked the resources to devote to it. Close to one third, or 32 percent, said they spend more than $10,000 annually on online advertising, social media management and search engine optimization, including tools, services and people. About 26 percent of respondents said they spend less than $10,000. Another 30 percent said they didn’t know what they spend, and 5 percent said they spend nothing. “Restaurant operators are making use of social media because they realize it’s a simple, cost-effective way to connect directly with consumers,” said Kevin Runnels, GEFF’s digital communications leader. “We know they’re deploying more social media resources this year — a trend that will likely continue over the next few years.”

Priceline is Buying OpenTable for $2.6 Billion

June 13, 2014

Article by Todd Wasserman is buying restaurant booking service OpenTable for $2.3 billion, the travel company announced Friday, paving the way for a new line of business for the online bidding firm. The company is offering $103 a share for OpenTable, which is 46% more than its closing price on Thursday. Priceline is hoping to close the deal in the second quarter. "OpenTable is a great match for The Priceline Group. They provide us with a natural extension into restaurant marketing services and a wonderful and highly-valued booking experience for our global customers," Darren Huston, president and CEO of The Priceline Group said in a statement. OpenTable came out of the first dot-com era. Founded in 1998, the company operates, which lets customers book tables online. Some 31,000 restaurants are part of the system, and OpenTable claims it has seated more than 530 million patrons. Priceline, another survivor of the first dot-com wave, will extend its reach to 15 million people that use OpenTable each month. The pending purchase prompted a run-up in stocks for GrubHub, Yelp and Groupon, which offer similar services in the same category. TechCrunch reports that former SEC attorney Willie Briscoe and securities litigation firm Powers Taylor are going to probe the deal because they believe it is priced too low.


June 13, 2014

Article by Irfan Ahmad

Wondering what a shareable social media post looks like? This is just a sample below, but the full infographic from MyCleverAgency covers how to make perfect posts on 10 different social media networks including Vine, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest and more! Get the whole story at

How to Make the Most of Tumblr for your Brand March 25, 2014 Article by Maddie Hammond

With over 132 million blogs on their site alone, Tumblr’s potential reach is huge. According to Quantcast, the site received over 5.5 billion pageviews in May 2013 alone. With user numbers and popularity on the rise, it’s a perfect marketing tool for businesses that are trying to extend their reach and raise brand awareness.

1.) Build a Brand Persona Tumblr is a breeding ground for all things viral. Because of this, building a relatable brand persona and identity can be easily done. Decide on a brand identity early on in your strategy and build your page around that. Do you want to be funny? Or maybe be helpful? Having a niche could give your site the edge. Food company Whole Foods is a great example of a brand who did just this. They created an online magazine, “Dark Rye” that features short-form content that reinforces a health-conscious living style. Everything from tips on cooking corn, to quotes on community and creativity. Whole Foods manages to avoid a hard sell whilst still building a definite persona centered around their brand values.

2.) Be Helpful Tumblr provides a great way to build recognition as an expert within your field. Be helpful, offer advice and tutorials and develop your niche. Dynamic Auto Mobile Mechanic is a great example of a company that you would not think would be using Tumblr. However they give their audience instructions on topics such as how to upgrade their cars and how to get better gas mileage.

3.) Be Visual Probably the first thing you’ll notice about Tumblr is how imagefocused it is. In fact, over half the content on the site is visual and uploading your own pictures is actively encouraged. Again, refer back to your desired persona (step one) and consider

what kind of images could appropriately convey that. For example, posting “behind the scenes” photos of upcoming offerings or highlighting a newly released item are great ways to get your followers excited and allow them to share your content with their networks. A brand who does great things with their Tumblr is Net-a-Porter. On their Tumblr page, they publish outtakes from their photo spreads in The Edit, giving a feeling of exclusivity to their followers.

4.) Incorporate Video If your brand uses video, then Tumblr should definitely be in your marketing strategy. In Adobe’s Q4 2013 Video Benchmark report, it was revealed that Tumblr is responsible for referring more average video starts than YouTube, Twitter and Reddit. Equally, Tumblr is producing nearly identical video view rates as Facebook, with over a third of referred visits producing a video start. Even more impressive is that 56% of the visits referred from Tumblr resulted in a view.

5.) Interact, Share & Be Social Tumblr is still, primarily, a social media network, so follow and interact with lots of relevant Tumblr pages and begin to post your own content. Follower counts aren’t displayed on Tumblr and you can follow any number of people or brands immediately without appearing spammy. Once you gain some exposure and establish a positive reputation, your follower count will increase organically. Reblog, comment on or like posts from the blogs you follow & share relevant posts that fit with your business and brand. This will help build your audience, acquire new followers and enhance your brand image by bringing exposure to your company profile.


Restaurant Industry Experiments with Google Glass

April 18, 2014

Article by Ron Ruggless “At a $700 price point, depending on the volume of the restaurant and depending on the level of business you are doing,” Nepomuceno said, “this allows owners to have a real-time telepresence in each of the locations. … You’re not shooting in the dark from an owner’s perspective.” Not all restaurant owners have welcomed the wearable devices, citing privacy concerns. Restaurateurs in Seattle and San Francisco have barred customers from wearing Google Glass in their establishments. In the tech-heavy Bay Area, there’s even a website that lists places that restrict their use for those “uncomfortable with being recorded in a bar, café or restaurant” without their permission. Nepomuceno said he would have two recommendations for operators considering Google Glass: Don’t be afraid of it, and be open-minded. Training is key, he added. “As long as your staff is properly trained in how to use it and the context about which it should be used,” Nepomuceno said, “it really could be a great resource for restaurant owners, particularly multi-store restaurant owners.” Here’s a look at how some in the restaurant industry have employed Google Glass.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop

Interapt CEO Ankur Gopal speaks to KFC Team in Glass training recap meeting More restaurant brands and organizations are eying Google Glass, a new technology device from the monolithic search engine company, as a tool for training and operations as it becomes increasingly available to the public. Google Glass, which is worn like a pair of glasses and offers functions like recording video and communicating, became available to the general public on Tax Day, April 15, in a single-day offering, and is likely to become widely available by year’s end. KFC and Capriotti’s Sandwich shops have toyed with the device in training, and the Washington Restaurant Association recently livestreamed its annual show to the public via a Google Glass device. “This could be a potential empowering technology for restaurant owners,” said Lex Nepomuceno, WRA's director of communications and technology, “because it allows you to be in multiple places without having to drive to multiple places. It saves you two valuable things: It saves you time and it saves you money.” Nepomuceno said he sees solid potential for the device, which now carries a price tag of $1,500, if the cost comes down. He speculates that will happen as the users expand beyond the beta-testers, called Glass Explorers. He cited a Google survey that indicated 12 percent of consumers would buy the device if it was priced around $750.

Jason Smylie, chief information and marketing officer for the Las Vegas, Nev.-based Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, said his 102-unit chain began testing Google Glass in September to help with employee training. “What’s available for the restaurant space is pretty limited right now, but I’ve found the video features are the most applicable to what we’re trying to do,” Smylie said in an interview this week. “Certainly as it becomes more widely available and adopted by a larger user base, there will be software developers that come out with things that are geared specifically to the restaurant industry.” For example, Smylie said Capriotti’s has had employees wear the device during a lunch rush to record about 30 minutes of back-ofhouse and some front-of-house management. “We’re not using it where it would be facing customers,” he added, “because there is still a bit of stigma around it with people tending to be a little creeped out by the potential of being recorded. We’re not having our employees wear it when they are specifically interacting with customers.” Managers can review the recordings later with employees in the same way an athlete might review game tapes with a coach. “We look for the opportunities to improve their game or highlight what they did well,” Smylie said. “It helps improve the skill set.” Capriotti’s first started using Google Glass last September after Smylie was selected as a Glass Explorer through Twitter, he said.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop is testing Google Glass for use in employee training

Drawbacks to the device are a short battery life of about 30 minutes, the $1,500 price tag and the Glass’ delicacy. Smylie said he broke his first one while removing it from the packaging, but Google replaced it at no cost. “The restaurant space is a high-impact environment. [The device] has the potential for flying off people’s heads or [getting] stepped on or getting mayonnaise on it,” Smylie said. “I advise whoever is wearing it to be very careful.” Employees who have worn it consider a “mind-blowing device,” he added, “and it’s exciting for our managers-in-training to wear.”

Washington Restaurant Association Google Glass provided a unique insider's view of the Northwest Foodservice Show in early April when the Washington Restaurant Association live-streamed interviews and culinary demonstrations from the devices. Lex Nepomuceno, the WRA's director of communications and technology, said he planned for one drawback of the device: the need for a large amount of bandwidth. He eventually engaged four layers of Wi-Fi coverage to accommodate the device.

He added that the live-streaming test helped “emphasize the creativity and innovation that is being applied in the restaurant industry every day.” The WRA also live-streamed via Google Hangouts On Air, he said.

Yum! Brands In March, Yum! Brands Inc. partnered with Interapt, a mobile development and strategy firm, to test a training platform that used Google Glass. Both companies are based in Louisville, Ky. Yum is seeking ways to improve efficiency in several areas with the device. Rob Lauber, Yum’s chief learning officer, said on Interapts blog: "For Yum! Brands, it is about helping people learn how to do things the right way every time, in the shortest time possible.” Google Glass can offer employees instant, hands-free retrieval of detailed tutorials whenever a reminder was needed, he added. "We are always looking for ways to innovate our learning methods to drive more efficiency, consistency, and faster time to performance," Lauber said. "Our customers want quick service, and we need to make sure our people are capable of delivering on that expectation."

The WRA’s test also employed the recently launched Livestream Platform, which in the future might offer multiunit restaurants training options, Nepomuceno said.

Google Glass is available with multiple colors, frames, shades and earbuds.


Hashtags: What You Need to Know

June 4, 2014

Article by John Moore

Hashtags might have begun life as easily-referenced Twitter subjects, but they do more than merely function as the punchline of a Jimmy Fallon video. They have evolved into a unique communication platform that can serve as the connective tissue between social media channels—and demographics. They can instantly contextualize, categorize and connect your social media posts to your customer base as well as tap into a larger conversation.

4. Be specific. One of the biggest crimes in the hashtag universe is the use of generic terms, or, even worse, hashtagging every word in a sentence. Hashtags such as #Food, #Burger, #Delicious become meaningless noise and more than anything else portray you as just slightly desperate for attention. Hashtags augment and amplify, connect and compliment. They do not compensate for lazy messaging. Be creative and precise.

Hashtags can create compelling conversation points that invite participation and focus dialog around your messaging. They can also serve the dual role of connecting your posts to a larger online community, while inviting that same group in to see how your post relates to their interests. A good example might be a post about your restaurant’s patronage of a local farmers’ market with a geo-specific tag such as #NYCLocavore—relating to the subject and furthering the conversation.

5. Use capitals. You can quickly see why British singer Susan Boyle regrets not using caps in her now-infamous “#susanalbumparty” twitter post. There is very little upside for saving the extra seconds by not using capitals in your tags, while ignoring them can have a potentially huge downside.

This year’s Super Bowl was the best indication of how ubiquitous hashtag use has become to brands at all levels. Hashtags were used in 58 percent of all commercials, up from 7 percent just two years ago, while the use of URLs, Facebook or Twitter tags had all declined significantly. Hashtags are a one-stop solution for referencing your message across all platforms simultaneously. Hashtags are now recognized by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Youtube and Vine. The importance of horizontal messaging is now more important than ever. Demographics for all of these platforms can vary dramatically. Twitter use is exploding with the over-50 crowd, while Vine dominates with everyone under the age of 25. Hashtags provide a way to create connections between groups—with your restaurant being the center of the conversation. Engagement and viral reach can be multiplied exponentially. Of course, as with any of these platforms and social marketing tools, there is a potential for misuse and self-defeating excess. Incorrectly executed hashtags can just as easily marginalize your message, or even make it the subject of ridicule.

#Do’s and #Don’ts 1. Be organic. Create tags that relate to your message seamlessly and intuitively. Readability counts, so keep it brief, memorable and easy to spell. Alliteration is your friend; clunky locutions are not. Think #PerfectPizzaPairings vs. #BestWinesWithPizza. 2. Originality counts. Strive to come up with tags that are specific to your restaurant and content. #DeliciousPizza or #GreatSteak don’t really drive the conversation, either practically or conceptually, but #FreshBurrattaPizza or #DryAgedSirloin do. #SalsPizza isn’t going to do it; #SalsPizzaOn3rd should. Always check first, just to make sure. 3. Double check. Take a second look to make sure that the hashtag you’re using can’t be misinterpreted or turned against you. Recently McDonald’s used #McDStories to elicit happy anecdotes from satisfied customers. As you may have guessed, what they actually got was an easily referenced online collection of burger-related horror stories.


6. Be succinct. Do not add more than a few hashtags to any post. Tweets with three or less tags are twice as likely to be acted upon (favorited, answered, retweeted). It is almost never a good idea to hashtag more than two or three words together. And it’s definitely a bad idea to hashtag an entire sentence unless you actually are Jimmy Fallon. While we all dream of creating the immediately adopted, ubiquitous meme, it is much more important to convey your message effectively. Save all that creativity for your personal posts. 7. Be accessible. It’s important, especially when writing about food, that you establish a common-sense baseline for exactly how esoteric your cooking references will be. You want people to follow the conversation, not Google it. #PorkStuffedCabbage: yes, #PetitsFarci: no. 8. Use tools. Online aggregation services—Tag Board and Rebel Mouse are two of the best—will collect and collate your hashtags. This is especially useful if you are running a promo using a hashtag as a reference point. Let’s say you invite patrons to post photos of their favorite dessert at your restaurant including a specific hashtag and offer a prize for the post with the most interactions. You can then compile all the entries into one handy page. Tagboard is also very useful for checking for preexisting hashtags across all platforms. Another great tool is Rite Tag, which actually checks your hashtag to see how original it is and the statistical chances of it being discovered via hashtag search. Remember to be creative, succinct and consistent. Hashtags can consolidate your messaging across platforms and help you reach and engage a much broader audience. Not using them, or using them ineffectively, will deprive you of an increasingly vital communications tool.

Get Your Local Business Found on Google June 13, 2014 Article by Andy Kinsey Not everything in the world of Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimization costs a fortune. Google offers help to local business owners for Free – just look at tools like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and all the advice they give to webmasters via channels like Matt Cutts and Webmaster Tools Videos. The list goes on when you consider Google Maps, Business Listings etc – but at some point it feels overwhelming – like they’re offering so many tools, it would take forever to find them and learn to use them all correctly and to their full effect. Google My Business Today, Google released a new tool aimed at helping small and local businesses to get found on Google. The user-friendly tool, at, brings all of the above together into one place for you to set up, edit and monitor. And you guessed it, this marketing tool is FREE! The tool takes you step by step through setting up each area of the services to make the most of them. Once set up, you get a concise dashboard for your business. The dashboard is clear and easy to understand, pulling in the key data points you need from Analytics, Insights and encouraging engagement on Google+. If you have multiple businesses to manage, you can create them all using the same method. Once you sign in, you will see a dashboard allowing you to manage each business individually. Something to note is that each location of a business will require it’s own maps verification, though doesn’t necessarily require its own business set up. Also non-local based businesses can set up their listings on Google services using the Google My Business pages and simply skip the mapping location if they are not location specific.

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More Customers Finding Restaurants Via Smartphones Many potential patrons now rely heavily on mobile devices when deciding where they’re going to eat. Ignore them at your peril. June 11, 2014

If you’re still wondering how important your restaurant’s mobile presence might be, consider this line from a new report that documents the impact technology is having on consumers’ buying behavior: “Mobile is often the only tool used to make a purchase decision—this is especially true for restaurants and entertainment purchases.” It’s good news if you’ve already optimized your restaurant’s online presence for viewing on a mobile device. But if you haven’t, some results found in the report ‘Mobile Path To Purchase: The New Shopper Mindset’ could be downright scary. Consider this: “The number of smartphone users now rivals desktop,” the report finds. “And the number of online smartphone visits are nearly twice those of desktop.” In other words, if you’ve got a snazzy website but a so-so mobile presence, a very high number of potential customers might not find the information they’re looking for when they visit your mobile site. Mobile Path To Purchase is a joint effort of ad platform provider xAd, call measurement company Telmetrics and research giant Nielsen Holdings. The results combine online survey data sourced from 2,000 U.S. tablet and smartphone users with “actual observed behaviors” of Nielsen’s 6,000-person Smartphone Analytics panel. The study focused on four industries—telecom, restaurants, autos and entertainment—and respondents who had used their mobile device to make a purchase decision in one of these industries within the past month.

Other findings from this report: 1. Consumers are relying on their devices as everyday, essential decision tools. Mobile now accounts for 51 percent of time spent online for key categories. For restaurants, the breakdown is 50 percent for smartphones, 46 percent for PCs and four percent for tablets. 2. Mobile is a powerful part of consumer purchase decisions. Forty-two percent of shoppers say mobile is the most important medium for their decision. For restaurants, 60 percent of respondents use smartphones exclusively to make their purchase decision. 3. Most mobile activity takes place at the start of the purchase process. For restaurants, 51 percent of mobile users used their device at the start of the purchase process, researching all the options. Thirty-seven percent turn to it in the middle of their shopping process when considering specific restaurants. Twelve percent go mobile at the end to contact a specific restaurant to make a reservation or place an online order. Nearly one-quarter of mobile device users use their smartphones or tablets all the way through the process.

One data point is especially favorable for restaurants. Of the industries analyzed for this study, restaurants have the highest conversion rate from browser to buyer—80 percent. The factors that drive smartphone users to make a purchase at a restaurant after seeking information about it are:

4. Not surprisingly, decisions come fast. Two-thirds of mobile consumers are looking to make a purchase the same day. Thirty-four percent of consumers are ready to make their restaurant purchase immediately; 30 percent want to eat within the hour.

• Right price: 15 percent • Right brand: 18 percent • Had a location in mind: 19 percent • Reviews were good: 12 percent • Close to my location: 20 percent

The report concludes that “the on-the-go nature of mobile means that it can complement and encourage visits to physical locations and be used as a tool to easily drive in-store activity and purchases.” If your restaurant’s mobile site is weak, or not mobile-optimized at all, it’s past time for an upgrade.

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Di early summer 2014  
Di early summer 2014