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Don’t Get Lost in the Social Sauce

With technology improvements has come a dramatic increase in access to information. It has become virtually impossible to watch every show, read every book or see every new movie. The hospitality industry is certainly not immune to the age of information overload. Hearing about every new restaurant and discovering every great dish is increasingly more difficult for consumers. For restaurants, the consequences could be a very real impact to their bottom lines.
The internet makes it possible to find almost anything you can possibly imagine, but it also makes it impossible to sort through everything. And while it allows everyone to have a voice, it makes it harder for individual restaurants to really be heard.
Today, review platforms are over-saturated. Unfortunately for restaurant owners, excessive noise is just the tip of the iceberg. Legacy discovery platforms are often riddled with negativity and can hurt restaurants rather than help them. It only makes sense that restaurants have begun turning to alternative means of getting noticed. Various forms of social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become huge marketing channels for restaurants. However, more platforms usually means a greater volume of information, which turns up the noise even more, making the entire experience very cumbersome. In this article, Wine N Dine, LLC discusses how restaurants can get consumers to notice them.
Finding the New Keys to Success
Word of mouth remains the most successful way to attract and retain customers. The best marketing a restaurant can ask for is a person telling their friend, "you need to try this place!” Digital channels that capitalize on this, especially those that are positive and image-based, have become increasingly critical to the industry. 
Grant Reynolds, an owner of New York’s wildly popular establishment Pasquale Jones, felt the impact early on.
“It's amazing how one photo can garner you so much attention," he said. "Some of the first waves of people through the door at Pasquale Jones had already been sharing their experiences via social. We were psyched and thankful for the early traffic and buzz.”
The food community has seen great results when utilizing positive platforms, driven by user generated photos. Effective word-of-mouth marketing boils down to a simple formula: consumers want to see actual photos of the best meals, at the best restaurants, in real-time, and they want to share their own expertise with like-minded individuals. Rather than becoming a place to vent and complain, these positive, social-based, image sharing communities invite foodies to help one another uncover the very best food.
Sean Freeny, owner of Lilia in Brooklyn says photo sharing apps have “proven to be an exciting tool that has helped create buzz which allows us to fill seats nightly. Most importantly, as an operator I love the constructive nature in the feedback we get daily from the comments on the platform. It allows for a positive dialogue between the guest and restaurant as we consistently try to meet demand, as well as the requests of our diners.”
Coming Back for More
Word of mouth, digital or otherwise, will help get people in the door but the next challenge is finding a network of repeat customers. Food communities, especially in cities, are driven not only by a passion for finding great new options, but also by the reliability of trustworthy options that never miss a beat. It’s only natural for this behavior to transfer to the digital landscape, where people can see others continuously visiting the same restaurants. Actions speak louder than words and continued positive experiences within a person’s network are far more impactful for attracting and keeping new customers. Restaurants will always be at the nucleus of food communities, so it’s important to identify and engage with positive platforms that encourage interaction.
According to Tommy Roncari, owner of da Tommy Osteria in New York’s West Village, “there have been nights when 80 percent of our diners have been members of a food app community. These apps provide a platform for invaluable feedback, which enables us to engage in a dialogue with our diners.”
Restaurant Marketing 3.0
The digital landscape is constantly changing, making it imperative for restaurants to focus on creating brand awareness in an increasingly busy space. They need to focus on two types of platforms: those that introduce your brand to large, broad audiences and those that foster a real relationship with new and repeat customers alike. Larger platforms will require a more hands-on approach, whereas smaller platforms enable a more hands-off approach. Experiment with which platforms are best for you, keep awesome food coming out of the kitchen and give your customers an excellent and positive experience. Genuine food lovers will find you, share their experience online and before you know it, a steady stream of new diners will fill your seats every night and continue to come back.
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