Monday, August 3, 2015

Saying goodbye is never easy

I have had a great time meeting a lot of wonderful pizza people during my two year tenure with PMQ but unfortunately this will be my last post on Slice of Life. I am heading out next week to start my new position as the Executive Director of the Oxford Film Festival in our hometown of Oxford, MS. I have been a volunteer with the festival for 11 years and a passionate fan of film and now a moviemaker besides helping produce PMQ videos. While I will miss learning and sharing more about social media with you, I hope that you continue to share with us all your great ideas on our Facebook page! And one thing is certain, in my time with the magazine, I have become even more of a fan of pizza and my love of it will continue! I plan to keep visiting pizzerias where ever I visit and I hope to meet up with you all one day!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Google+ admits defeat and will be making big changes

For those of us on Google+, we've kept going mostly because we had to if on YouTube or any other part of Google (they'd been trying to keep the site used by forcing you to have an account to use other products). But finally the news that will no longer be the case has happened! 

This is good news for those of us annoyed that we have to create a new page if we run a YouTube site. But what will it means for businesses listed on the site? Basically, the site won't die but they are focusing less on being the Facebook killer and more on trying to make specialized community chats. 

This is not terrible news for pizza. There are a lot of fans of the food and they are already on Google+. But, it could also mean doom for the site as lots of people after the news tweeted how they can't wait to delete their page. 

It should be an interesting thing to keep an eye on. If you have a profile, don't go deleting it yet, because it does still help your rankings in google search. Don't give up! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Promoting other businesses promotes you!

Steve Hitchcock/Photo by Andy Knef

Sometimes a simple but great idea is found while doing something else. That is what happened on the road last week in Colorado when we meet Steve Hitchcock of Soda Creek Pizza. In doing the Western Pizza Summit panel, Steve mentioned how he uses social media. The most important tip he provided was that his pizzeria asks on Facebook for people to nominate other businesses in Steamboat Springs and they provide them free pizza. Simple but brilliant!

The idea does several good deeds.

First, promoting other businesses on your Facebook page helps show off that you are also part of the local community.

Second, it encourages engagement of your community.

Third, while it does promote other businesses first, it also shows that you are a great business as well that supports others.

Do you do something similar? Let us know by commenting below!

Monday, July 13, 2015

On the road again or how to share great photos on social media outside your shop

Sometimes, getting out of your pizzeria and showing unique travel experiences can be a way to draw in your audience. If you are out at the grocery store buying ingredients, why not show some of the cool items you are buying that your customers can soon try? If on a road trip, why not show off other pizzerias or fun menu ideas at any restaurant that you think your audience may enjoy?

In that vein, PMQ is always up to something on the road and this week we are heading to Colorado to follow Think Tank member Daddio throughout Colorado as he meets up with other Think Tank members. Our first night, we will be stopping at Wholly Stromboli for a panel discussion on the state of the pizza industry with special guests Michael LaMarca of Master Pizza in Cleveland, Ohio, Eric Rickman of Wholly Stromboli, Richard Ames (Daddio) and Steve Hitchcock, owner of Soda Creek Pizza in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The event is open to any pizza industry folks who may want to attend. You can register here.

Some tips for posting related but outside your pizzeria photos (whether Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!):

1. Make sure it is related somehow to your audience experience. A photograph at a butcher when getting some meat for a pizza topping could be interesting, but your kids at Disney World? Maybe not as appealing.

2. Think of fun angles. Don't just take a generic wide shot at every venue. Try to think of a fun way to take a photo. Turn the camera, take a corner of an ingredient and get them to guess what it is.

3. Natural light is always best. If you are at a place with a window, try to move the ingredient near it for a better shot (note, don't take an unpurchased item outside of the shop or you will have a bigger story to tell of your accidental shoplifting!)

4. Make it interactive. Related to number two, but how can you make the image something that people will want to engage with? Making them guess what it is for, guessing what it is, or asking them to share their own stories of where they like to buy their favorite cheese is an easy way to boost engagement.

5. Have fun with it. Let people see a bit of your personality and the personality of your pizzeria by taking some fun photos. It doesn't all have to be just pictures of the final pizza out of the oven. Show us some fresh toppings before they even get to your store that you are considering at the local farmers market. Show us the great dessert you just had elsewhere and are considering adapting for your place. Show your pizza family doing something like a charity event.

Monday, June 29, 2015

When to apologize on social media for offline issue

Over this week a business posted an apology on their Facebook page for an event that happened offline. Since I was not at the event I was unaware of it until the apology, which led to quite a few comments of both supporters and those upset at the situation. That put a question in my mind. If they hadn't posted publicly, would anyone be really talking about it, or did it help the situation to put out a general apology to everyone?

I don't really have the answer to that but am curious what you think or if you have dealt with a situation like that? Did you post online about an offline error? How did people take it?

In general though, to handle an online apology, I recommend a few tips:

1. Don't rush to apologize.
Do the research first. Who did you upset and how? What is the best possible approach to apologizing before you start typing away furiously? Do you even need to apologize or let it go?

2. Rough draft it.
Write out the apology, perhaps even offline and read it first. Maybe have others read it. Does it come across as sincere? Have you removed any passive aggressive language if still upset with anyone? Does it convey the best possible version of your business? Is it sincere?

3. Don't just apologize, remedy.
A simple "sorry" doesn't really cut it today. People use social media partially as a way to work with brands to handle complaints. So, beyond the sincere apology, let people know what steps you are making to handle the situation.

4. Handle comments with class.
Despite your great efforts and despite your sincerity, this is the Internet and people will hurl angry comments at you. Rise above it. Thank them for their concerns, let them know how you will remedy any issues, and don't get into a troll fight.

Monday, June 22, 2015

How to be more likeable online

Recently Forbes did a story on 5 ways leaders can be more likeable on social media, but the advice really doesn't just extend to leadership. The tips, along with some of ours, are easy ways to seem more approachable while posting. This is for individuals posting and not the company page.

#1 Be yourself.
The first simple truth is to let your natural voice come out. Some people naturally let their comedic side come out. But if you aren't funny naturally, don't try to force jokes on Twitter. It will come out feeling forced.

#2 Be vulnerable.
Acknowledge mistakes that you make. Let people in when you are mourning someone. Don't be afraid to let people care about you. Social media is not just  "PR" posts but is about letting people know who you are.

#3 Be aware that you represent not just you but your brand. 
While you should be yourself, be aware that to the public, that self represents whatever company you affiliate with. So while you may individually have a strong opinion about something, if your company doesn't, you may want to rethink the post. Or be very explicit that you speak for yourself and in no way represent the brand. But that usually backfires.

#4 Be polite. There are a lot of abrasive people on the Internet and it is very likely they will share their negative opinion to you. That doesn't mean you have to engage. Getting into a Twitter-war may be OK if you are a huge celebrity but for many that also represent a company, it just ends up reflecting poorly on you.

#5 Don't be an advertising wall. Yes, you can occasionally mention your company or some cool deal but if you are just the guy selling Ray-bans on Facebook, you are going to get reported as spam. Have fun and lighten up. Post a funny cartoon that made you chuckle. Post about trending events. Don't just push your product.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Go to where the people are, say social media giants

NRA interviews Eric Schnabel of Facebook, David Pattillo of Twitter and Eric Edge of Instagram.
At the National Restaurant Association show last week in Chicago, representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sat down with a large crowd of restaurant operators to talk about what they need to know for their business to be social.

Earlier in the day, Ariana Huffington of HuffPost, an online news site, said quite possibly the best statement I have heard about why social media matters: "Everything eventually ends up on social media, and sooner rather than later."

And in truth, that already happens for most pizzerias. Whether you are online or not, people are talking about you. Eric Schnabel of Facebook Creative, David Pattillo of Twitter sales and Eric Edge with Instagram spoke at NRA to mostly independent restaurant owners about what they need to know about going social.

First, why even be on social?

"It is where people are, where they are discovering interests and it is how to look at people and serve a direct message to them," Schnabel said.

For the first time in history, this year, mobile usage has pushed the amount of time people spend online past how much they watch TV. A recent study by QSR showed that 60 percent of people use mobile devices to find restaurants and of that, three quarters only use their phone to search.

Pattillo said that an average phone is unlocked 110 times a day which could allow you ample opportunity to connect with your customer. Also, peer opinion remains the number one marketing factor and with millenial generation, it is really what they are saying to each other online that can make a difference.

But for anyone starting out, it is not just about putting out a message to customers. It is about active listening on the social media platforms. Who is talking about being hungry? Who is saying they want pizza? Listen first and then act.

Edge of Instagram said that when social media began people would consume the content but today they are much more participatory. He suggests to restaurants to find your unique point of view and share that. For example, consider sidewalk chalk boards outside a store. Find that same personality and place it online.

Pattillo recommends planning on what events you want to be a part of and scheduling around that. With deflategate happening, a lot of tire companies are having fun advertising on social media to tie into the current conversation.

Social media experts often have suggestions to post x amount of times every day. But with small businesses, finding time to post is hard. All three social media outlets said stop expecting to post constantly. The key tips were to be authentic to you, plan out a calendar of when you want to post to participate in the best time for you and be reductionist.

Edge said it is not about engagement metrics but what does your post have to do with your brand? Pattillo said "stop posting every day. What is it that is going to make people care that a new pizzeria is coming in?"

Other tips were: focus on what gets you fired or promoted, forget about everything other than getting your brand and voice right, and look for business things you need to focus on.

Edge encouraged people to not post about things unrelated to your business. He used the example of a pizzeria posting a picture of a bunny and saying have a nice day. What does that tell me about pizza?

Myths of social media? 

While a lot of people think there is no return on investment in social media, the representatives said that it is not true.

"No big budget can't have an impact," Pattillo said.

For smaller brands, it actually can be even easier to make an impact as there are not as many obstacles. You are able to develop your own tone and voice, Pattillo said.

"Often we find some smaller businesses are more in touch because they are able to just go out in their community and take photos and bring their brand to life," Edge said. "You will see returns if you stay at it."

We've all noticed it. For those of us with a Facebook page already, organic reach has gone down. Three years ago only 300,000 businesses were on Facebook. Today, there are 2.5 million. As it grows, Facebook continues to tweak algorithms to make sure people receive a newsfeed that is relevant to them. This has hurt organic reach for businesses. But, Schnabel said there are ways to improve beyond just buying ads (although he does suggest that).

You need to make your posts as relevant as possible and as timely as possible. Don't just post when you have time. Schedule posts to be when people are hungry. 

"It is about finding the right moments that capture the reptilian core of the brain," Schnabel said. "Send them into a carb frenzy with the right photo of fresh bread right out of the oven at the right time." 

Serve your fans what is relevant to them and nothing else.

Also, for paid advertising, you can upload your email lists so only who you want to see ads will see them. You can also target advertising down to as little or as many people as you want. For a very small budget, you can target specific people. This is something that other forms of media can't promise as they broadcast out to a large net. Social media advertising allows you to only target the specific people you want to reach.

How can smaller brands get started? 

While small businesses wear so many hats, Schnabel said that social media is great because you do not need digital expertise or an outside paid expert to get started.

"Think like you've always thought as you created your business," Schnabel said. "Bring your social media presence to life."

Mellow Mushroom is a growing pizza chain in the south and north east.

He used the example of Mellow Mushroom as an example of a brand that is going from a southeast chain to national that is working with Facebook to take elements of their brand and grow that online.

"We all need to think visually and be ruthlessly reductionist," Schnabel said.

Pattillo also said there is a seasonality to the business so planning your content for the entire year is helpful. Also, using video and photo is key.

Instagram encouraged people to look at what others are doing in their field. "You don't want to do what the pizzeria down the street is doing," Edge said.
Should you be on more than one social media outlet?

The short answer is yes. But here is why.

Instagram transports you away to dream about what could be with images while twitter allows you to be part of the conversation and the right now while Facebook allows for a personal connection. Each does something slightly different and lets your customer have a unique experience.

To learn more on each social media outlet and how your business can get started, visit:
Twitter: or for small business:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wrong Memories Vitriol Triggers Social Media Defense

For Memories Gourmet Pizza Company, a simple case of mistaken identity led to quite a bit of online bullying recently. A different Memories Pizza in a different state fueled online rage after stating their opinion that they wouldn't serve pizza at a gay wedding. Mike Premeau and Kathy Danke, who don't share the same beliefs or the same pizzeria, did share a name. As people took to social media to express their outrage and support for Memories Pizza, Memories Gourmet Pizza Company was caught in the cross-fire. 

Tell us a bit more about the company
We are Memories Gourmet Pizza Company and we manufacture frozen Gluten-free/No preservative added (12”), and Traditional (12 inch traditional varieties and 7 inch traditional and breakfast varieties) pizzas. Our products are available for purchase thru grocery stores, natural food stores, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, gas stations and small fast food locations such as ice cream shops. We are a wholesale manufacturer that has been in business since 2012, servicing eastern Wisconsin and are in the process of expansion that will allow us to cross state lines with our frozen meat product lines. We will be connecting with a national distributor at that time.

Tell us what happened with the national news picked up the story on the Indiana Memories Pizza story. What sort of reactions from people did you get despite having nothing to do with the story?
As soon as the news broke, word spread like wild fire, between the concerned groups, the Christian community and the LGBT community. As soon as the information was out, people started searching for the pizzeria and our company came up on the search engine first. Memories Gourmet Pizza Company instead of Memories Pizza, was the one that was targeted. We were bombarded with emails, via Facebook, pro and con. Our computer crashed three times in two hours and at one time we had over 5,000 reaches on our Facebook site.

Has this sort of brand confusion ever happened before to you? 

What tips do you recommend to people on handling such a situation?
Practice patience, it will definitely take time to recover, however there are procedures that should be followed: Make sure you seek legal advice immediately to make sure you and your business are protected. Don’t take the action personally, it is directed at your name and not you, educate the consumer as fast as possible. Try to make something positive out of the situation.

Memories Gourmet Pizza Company response on Facebook

Has it quieted down since then or are you still finding people responding?
Yes, it slowly grew to be less and less, however, there is the follower that just heard about the stand we took and feels the need to comment. Mostly people that are uneducated about the situation or just feel that they need to reinforce the statements made by one side or the other.

What about your regular customers? How did they respond when they saw people react negatively to you? 
They were shocked by the news, mostly because we communicate directly with most of our customers and they know us and the principals we operate with. Actually, most posted on the doors, that the product on the shelf was not, or in any way, related to the media outbreak.

What is social media to you? 
It is our primary means of advertising and communication between us, the retailer, and the consumer and has become an integral part of our business.

What type of posts and frequency have you found to be the most effective?
Always any new event or any positive change of business that the customer would be interested in, as well as a way of driving them to your web site for typical information and to inquire if questions arise. In our case the announcement of a new variety, location, or an event we are participating in as well as feedback, hopefully positive ones.
We have found only about 60% of pizzerias or pizza related businesses have a presence on social media. What advice do you have in terms of social media?
 From our past experiences, I believe that most small privately owned pizza businesses probably do not have the resources to advertise, have a PR firm or are financially secure enough to promote their product as in the corporate world. For this reason it is necessary to make the most of the resources that are affordable and available to you. It is very simple to set up a media page and takes very little cash or time to do so. What it does take is dedication: daily, weekly or monthly, and regular posting that would be of interest to your customer base. Use it as if you were communicating face to face with a friend that wants to know what you are doing and make sure to set aside time to spend with that friend. Remember, you can’t have too many friends. As we all know, the best way to get new customers and keep old customers is to give the consumer what they want. A clean location, a great tasting product and the kind of service we expect when we visit a location.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Why you should have your social media on your website

Join us on social media! 

As part of my job as social media director for PMQ, I often spend time on websites from subscribers or advertisers to make sure that we are connected to them online and to see what cool things they are doing. More often than not, their site either does not list their social media or has a link to one or two social media outlets when they are actually on more than that. Of course, there are the ones that actually just aren't on social media still which I can't fathom but that is not today's subject.

Here are the typical things I see and what you can do about it:

1. None of your social media is linked on your website. 
If you pay a web designer, ask them to add them as soon as you can. An example is on the website on how we list all social media we have.  If you do not, then every social media site helps you create an icon that can link to your social media. Here is a great guide on the varying Facebook brand logos you can use for your site and instructions on how to build them.

2. Some of your social media is linked on your website.
The only person this is hurting is you. If I visit your website and see you are on Facebook, I will click the link to follow you and support your brand. But if you are also on Twitter or Youtube but you don't link them, I won't actively, as your customer, go do a search on every social media outlet I am on in hopes of finding you. Make it easy for your fans to like you. If you are on a social media outlet, then add it to your site. The same goes for Youtube as you are able to add your other social media links to that and it is another way for people to like you.

On Youtube, go to creator studio. Click the View Channel button. On the cover image you can click the pencil and either update the art (add an image that defines you!) or edit links. This allows you to add your website and social media to your channel. If you are on Youtube, subscribe to PizzaTV for lots of content al about pizzerias, recipes and more. Let me know in the comments that you subscribed and we will subscribe back.

PizzaTV page has all social media links connected to it.
3. Your social media is on your website but doesn't link correctly and redirects to a general page for the outlet.
While I see this less often, it is often on websites that I notice haven't been updated recently. Do a check right now on your website on your social media links and make sure they direct where they should. I find this most often with Facebook links redirecting to the general homepage instead of to your fan page. Same issue applies here, don't make your fans work so hard to like you. Make it as simple as possible. Update your hyperlink.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Getting the best photos for social media

While I often see great looking pizza shots in my timeline as the PMQ Facebook manager, occasionally I come across the photo that is less than appealing and can do more damage than good. It is always great to have visuals in the pizzeria world online, but that image can define the taste of your food, so you want to put the most appealing look out there. Here are some tips on getting the best shot you can:

#1 Background: 

This is often overlooked but can be detrimental if not considered. Look at the full frame of your photo. Is the background appealing? Clean? Or is their a kid picking his nose in the corner? Be careful about all elements of your photo before posting.

This may not be a photo of pizza but the reflection in the background is a prime example of being careful to check what all is in your shot before you post:

#2 Foreground: 

Be aware of framing and composition as well as resolution of your photo. Knowing where to place your subject for a more interesting photo as well as being aware of any natural lines that can move the eye through your photo is helpful. If you are not familiar with the rule of thirds, read more about it here. Mashable has a great photo illustration example for composition as well here.

The Wooden Paddle Instagram page often has inspired photos of pizza like the one below. This is framed well and has good lighting.

#3 Camera Angles:

Pizzarium often takes some of the most interesting angles of pizza that I see daily. Check out this fun photo:

You don't always have to capture the whole pie and you don't always have to take a straight on shot. Turn the camera, find a new way to tell your story.

#4 Lighting: 

This is crucial. I have seen my fair share of bad pizza pictures that are the result of using flash, improper lighting, or not enough light.

Grimaldi's gets it just right with a nice tight shot of the pizza that is framed well but also lit perfectly. It looks like you could reach out and grab a slice:

Here is what flash looks like and should be a no-no! I hope my new year looked better than this!

Between these two images, which one makes you hungry?

#5: It's not always about pizza. 

Want to show how people have a good time at your store? Want to share special news? Check out this great image from Ribalta Pizza:

Courtesy of Ribalta Pizza Facebook page
I first saw this image in my timeline with no context. I clicked on it immediately to learn more. Sure, the composition is not perfect but it shows a whole lot of people at their store also taking a selfie and I wanted to learn more. The story behind it was that a TV show was being filmed at their pizzeria in New York! So if you can take unique fun shots of customers or employees doing something fun, be sure to capture those moments and share them.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Recovering from a social media snafu

Courtesy of
You were a bit tipsy and took to Facebook last night. Or, in the heat of an argument with a customer, you said some things on Twitter you regret. We all make these mistakes. But our brands are the ones that can suffer if we don't try to right our wrongs. Here are some ideas on just how to do that:

1. Apologize. A sincere apology to your fans can go a long way. Be sure to craft the message off line and read it out loud, perhaps even let others hear it, before you make the post. Be as open and honest as you can without dredging up too much negativity from the incident.

2. Did it have major impact on your store? Consider issuing a press release to generate some positive buzz or hire a publicist if the mistake is at the level that it can shut down your pizzeria.

3. Delete the bad post? That is tricky. On one hand, deleting or censoring yourself is not necessarily a bad idea, but if you just try to sweep it under the rug by deleting it and not saying anything, that won't work. First off, there are screenshots and so your post is not as "deleted" as you think. Second, not addressing the issue is a mistake and a disservice to your customers.

4. Did your bad choice make headlines? Over at Forbes, they recommend not clicking on the online stories as that tells your search engines that the results are relevant. Clever idea. Read more about it here. 

5. Make real change off line too. Perhaps the social media post was a heated argument over defending a customer's bad experience. Take it offline as soon as you can after apologizing and fix the issue. Offer the customer a free meal to give you another chance, or listen closely to what they were saying. Maybe they spoke up and others haven't but it can be something you can fix in the store and improve customer experiences.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Does it pay for a pizzeria to be political?

Memories Pizza owners on The Blaze.
With over $840,000 raised by a Glenn Beck-owned television show for Memories Pizza this week, it would appear that stating to a reporter that you would refuse service based on your religious convictions does pay off. But does it really?

Memories Pizza spoke to a reporter about Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The owner explained that they would serve pizza to gay people in their store but would not cater a gay wedding due to their religious beliefs. The story ran and became a national sensation very quickly with an immediate backlash on social media. People turned to the Yelp page of the pizzeria as well as its Facebook page (both which were severely underused by the owners with little information and no updates in months) to protest the comment.

And then The Dana Radio Show decided to fight back on behalf of the pizzeria. The conservative show owned by Glenn Beck started a fundraiser in defense of the pizzeria. Meanwhile, the website for the pizzeria was hacked and threats were mounting, so they closed their store. More than 29,000 supporters donated over $840,000 to Memories Pizza and its owners. 

Fundraiser held by The Blaze to support Memories Pizza
The issue here is not that an individual expressed her opinion to a reporter about religion. It was that a business chose to make a public statement that they won't support catering a gay wedding as part of the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act." No gay couple had asked them to cater. And now, Memories Pizza is now closed. If the owners loved running their pizza shop, they have now lost that opportunity in their town. Sure, others who also believe similarly funded them, but did it really pay off to announce that you wouldn't provide your business to those not asking for it? 

Not really. This entire scenario could have easily gone a different way. The shop owners could have lost everything with no fundraiser to be held. The next pizzeria that decides to have a political opinion may find itself facing exactly that. Is it really worth it to declare to the media something that hasn't even happened for your business anyway? 

Memories Pizza website hacked
Several news sites are now defending Memories Pizza in saying that they only answered a reporter's question, didn't put signs up or actively fight against gay weddings. Well, my suggestion to the next pizzeria that is asked about a controversial topic in relation to their business is: don't. Serve pizza. That's it.

Say an issue happens in your area and a local reporter asks your opinion. Here are some steps to working with the media:

#1 - Realize that when you are being asked your opinion, you represent your brand, not you as an individual. 

#2 - If you are the decision maker or public face of your brand, when asked the question, even if by a local reporter, try to think what national implications this type of story could have. Does it help your pizzeria to answer this question? 

#3 - Follow my grandmother's rule. Two things we never talk about at the dinner table: religion and politics. Neither one involves serving up your pizza, so don't get involved unless you are prepared for the repercussions. 

#4 - Perhaps you let something slip publicly and there is backlash. Don't ignore social media at this time. Either handle a public relations team to help you or learn how to properly frame the statement you made and either apologize or defend your belief by being kind and polite. 

#5 - When being interviewed, listen carefully to the question. If you aren't sure how to answer it. Explain to the reporter that you'd like to think on it and come back to it. Don't just blurt something out. 

#6 - If you answer a question and your gut tells you you should clarify, do so before the reporter leaves. Don't assume they understood you. 

#7 - Don't believe you are ever speaking off record. You may say this is off the record, but notes can get mixed up, a reporter can decide it is too good to not share. Be careful. It may feel like two people just having a conversation, but you as the brand are making a declaration to the general public when you speak to a reporter. It is not just two people chatting. 

#8 - Not sure what the story is about? Ask the reporter before you answer any questions. That way you know the position of the story before you answer.

#9 - If you truly do believe in something and your brand also represents that belief, then answer honestly. But be prepared for people who believe differently than you to respond and potentially create a negative impact for your business. 

#10 - Decline to answer. You don't have to hide your beliefs or lie. But if your beliefs are different than your employers or don't necessarily match your brand, then simply choose to decline to answer. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Do you know what kind of Klout you have?

If you are using social media for your pizzeria, then one thing you should definitely be checking is your Klout score. How do you stack up against other pizzerias or other individuals using social media?

The Klout Score is a number between 1-100 that represents your influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score. You can log into by using your Facebook or Twitter account. After that, you can click on settings in the left hand corner. This lets you first boost your profile by adding a photo, more details and your brand name. In the next tab, Networks, you can add every social media outlet you are part of so that your Klout score is reflected by all social media you do. 

Klout has now added suggestions for people to follow with similar interests so it can help you grow your brand. It also now has scheduling of interesting stories in topics related to your field. Following both of these suggestions daily helps boost your score.

When thinking about sharing content on Twitter or Facebook or other social media outlets, you can get the plug in to +K it so that it shares through Klout. This lets you schedule when the post will be made and helps boost your social media score. 

So, why bother? 

Klout is just a numerical assignment to how well you are doing on social media. Don't rely on it for everything but it does help give you a sense of how well you are posting and what you can do to make it better. I also utilize to check our Facebook score each month to see how we are doing. It provides suggestions on how to improve and is a big help for brands trying to see why they are not getting the engagement they want.

PMQ Pizza Magazine is a 66 and steadily climbing up. Let us know in the comments below what your score is! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Be the brand you can be on social media but not more

It's a difficult balancing act to be on social media as a brand. You want to engage with water cooler chat and gossip and have fun with people, but when speaking as a brand there are a few key steps to take to not go too far.

1. Don't try too hard. Desperate pleas to buy your product or trying to hard to insert your name into every hashtag conversation shows quickly that you are being a salesman and not a social being. Just stop doing that.

2. Too many cooks. You have lots of people logging in without a unique voice for your brand so you end up all over the place and sounding somewhat bipolar. It is fine to have multiple employees doing your social media, but have strategies in place and agree upon a voice.

3. Don't be boring. If all I ever see from my favorite pizzeria is today's special and there is no personality in their "social" media, than I'm probably cutting you off. They love the people behind the brand, so let that come through. Just remember, #1 and don't try too hard to please them. Let conversations flow naturally but don't forget to let them happen at all. Engage. Don't just post. Talk back, be fun, enjoy.

Bonus: Over at Adweek, they have a great infographic explaining why people unfollow brands. Study it, learn it, follow it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fake versions of companies you trust a real problem

Qantas is fighting back after a fake Facebook account in their name promised free flights if people shared their post. PMQ Pizza Magazine was even under attack last week with a spearphishing campaign that sent a fake email with a virus out to millions of people last week. You can't go a day without a new headline about a new scam. People want to trick you and it is an unfortunate aspect to the online and real world. But you don't have to be the victim to every scam. Sure, we all know not to give our social security to just any Nigerian prince who emails us about our unclaimed millions, but when companies are attacked so the spammer can look legit, it is harder to catch ourselves from falling in the trap.

But there are some tips to recognize a scam:
- Trust your gut. If you get a mysterious email with an attachment from someone you don't know, don't open the attachment. If you feel it may be an honest email, then reply back that you would like more detail first. More often than not, the person's email has been hacked or in the case of PMQ, hijacked and never even sent from them at all but from a fake account made to look like theirs. Bonus: Don't feel the need to cuss as a reply as most likely the person you are yelling at is also a victim.
- Don't easily give out your personal data to any email or website requesting it.
- If it appears too good to be true, it probably is. Be careful before retweeting or sharing a social media post. Make sure the information is true. Don't rely on the fact others have shared it to claim it is true. Verify information by doing some research. If not sure, then don't share. CNN reported in October on the top social media hoaxes on Facebook now.
- Companies like the Internal Revenue Service are heavily hit this time of year with fake emails, calls and letters trying to pry information off of you. The IRS provides numerous tips to know when dealing with the real company.
- If you run a page or company, be on the alert on social media that there is not a duplicate version of yourself. If there is, report it.

It is not just online we have to worry. Here is an article from 2014 from WiseBread on other scams to be weary of when out in the real world.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Domino's rebrands and wants Instagram help to find old signs

According to a report from Chicago Sun Times, Domino's is calling for help to find stores still using the old sign that claims Domino's Pizza instead of just "Dominos."

Domino's is asking people to Instagram the old signs they find using hashtags #LOGOINFORMANTS and #SWEEPS. People who participate can win free pizza for a year.

“We’ve changed from Domino’s Pizza to simply Domino’s because we’re more than pizza,” the company says and Chicago Sun Times reports.

That's all well and good but if a company is focusing on shifting their name and making sure social media is a part of that game, they should take a look at their Facebook where every franchise in the country has its own page, whether inactive or not, with the name Domino's Pizza.

When rebranding, be sure to focus your efforts universally and not just on one social media area. Instagram campaigns to engage your customers over a major name change is not a bad idea, but only once you've implemented the change as fully as you can across the board. And honestly, while they may do more than pizza, let's not fool customers into thinking pizza is just one small part of your business now. Not when you are sending mixed messages of creating new stores that are redesigned just so people can watch "pizza theater" or the making of the pizza. 

Also, what happens to the stores still using the old sign? Are customers being used as "narcs" for the system? Are you saying as a brand that you can't control your franchises and have them change their sign? I guess if even your corporate office hasn't changed the name on Facebook, then you are saying you have a problem. It's a dangerous attempt but one I hope works out for them. But hey guys, work on your Facebook too. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Beavercreek dives right into social media

Meet Teresa Geraci. She and her husband, J.R., owns Beavercreek Pizza Dive in Ohio. Set in a small town, the popular pizzeria recently lured PMQ to visit with a big push on social media. So, we had to ask them, just how do you do it? 

When did you start with Beavercreek Pizza Dive? About 6 years ago.

Tell us a bit more about the company.We are a neighborhood pizza shop serving our amazing customers the best New York Style Pizza. We cook. We have a streamlined menu that only features items that we can be proud of and customers will crave. That said, if you asked a few of our customers why they love our pizza shop, I suspect that you’d get just as many rave reviews about our people as you do our food. It’s our goal to out-customer-service anyone. Not just another pizza store, not just another restaurant, but out-customer-service anyone you do business with.

What is social media to you?It’s a lifeline our customers. Where else can you have a direct conversation with your customers, free? We take advantage of every chance to have make a positive post to Facebook, and we’re working on getting better with Instagram, and twitter. We also like sharing updates between the platforms to get the most bang out of each post.

What is unique to Beavercreek Pizza Dive in terms of social media?Probably consistency and perseverance and a belief that it works. We have seen significant sales increases year-to-year. We credit this to our concentration on the best pizza, the best customer service, and a commitment to a social media presence that lets us talk to our customers on a continual basis.

What type of posts and frequency have you found to be the most effective?We try them all. Photos, contests, specials, promotions. What works best is the overall package. Every post is positive and reinforces us as your best choice for pizza. We post from 2 to 4 times a day, and more when we have more to share.

What is your favorite social media personally and what works best for the brand?
Facebook is our favorite and it works best for us. We can see immediate results, not only for sales, but also with customer communication. Any chance you have for a positive interaction with a customer is a win. We also find that the demo we reach on Facebook matches our key demo, so it’s a good fit. Feeling that they reach a younger demo, we’ve been growing our presence on Twitter and Instagram. We’re confident they both can work for us.

What is the key to success with social media for any pizzeria?First would be to have something to say. Know your brand and know why someone should come to your place any day of the week. Then, consistency. We’re posting every day, multiple times a day.  

Not every pizza shop can afford a PR firm or a social media full time person, so for those who are busy and can't hire this job out, what advice do you give them for social media if they just can't post daily? Everyone can post daily. From your Facebook business page, you can schedule posts well in advance. You can take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to schedule your foundation campaign (your basic specials and offers, we post daily specials). Then, sprinkle in extra pictures and posts throughout the week. Check in frequently to answer customer comments, post a few pictures, make a quick status update about something great that’s happening at the store, and tell customers why they should come visit you today and you’re good.

We have found only about 50% of pizzerias have a presence on social media. What advice do you have for pizzerias in terms of social media?Just do it. It’s essentially free and it works. Everyone can find their voice. Plus, it’s fun. We love our customers and appreciate them letting us into their lives to share our pizza stories. It is incredibly humbling and we are so grateful.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This is how you do it: pizzerias share social media tips

Pizza Bogo puts social media clearly on their pizza box.
I just spent a week traveling around Ohio in the snow and staying warm by eating some great pizza. While at pizzerias, I asked questions on how they utilize social media. One answer remained the same for all of them: you have to be on it whether you like it or not.

While some pizzerias we visited, like Master Pizza, are head over heels in love with what social media can do for their business, others are less interested in using it, but still recognize its importance.

As Master Pizza's Michael LaMarca said: "it's free!"

Here are some tips we learned from visiting pizzerias last week:

1. Clear signage in your store that you are on social media. Whether it is stickers on the window, tabletops or built into your menu - let customers know where to find you online. As one pizzeria owner said, even if you are not online, they'll still go to Yelp and talk about you without you having any control of the message. Pizza Bogo's pizza box makes social media the most prominent part of its design.

2. Use it or lose it. As Michael LaMarca of Master Pizza said, if you are not using your social media it is better to just get off than leave it unused. Master Pizza is an expert at using Twitter to draw interest to its stores. A recent example was a discussion on LeBron James which led to Master Pizza making a new King pizza in his honor, all because of a Twitter chat which led to major media coverage.

#3 At Romeo's Pizza, a new fan is named each week. Reward your customers on social media! Give a free pizza or breadsticks or something to entice people to stay tuned and keep trying to win!

#4 At Samosky's Homestyle Pizzeria, Facebook is not just a place to announce pizza but to keep customers as part of their lives. They post photos when the owner does a pizza competition and encourage their customers to stay involved and help then win vote-in contests such as the one they are in now.

While Samosky admits he took awhile to get into Facebook, his wife is the one who really keeps it going, but that it is important, even in their small town, as people have made Valley City a destination and it helps reach the tourist market.

#5 Finally, but definitely not least, the people at Beavercreek Pizza Dive are doing it right. They wanted PMQ to visit their pizzeria so instead of just asking once, they got their fans involved on social media to get us there. Then once they got us, they reached out again to fans to provide 50% off pizzas while we were there to fill up their dine-in area on an otherwise snowy day. Using their email list which you can also sign up on their Facebook page, they got their customers to be part of an experience.

The owner, Theresa, has a background in marketing which helps, but you don't have to have the same background to make your customers feel important and rewarded for their loyalty. Just do what you can to post and make them feel special.

Monday, February 9, 2015

So many ways to share love of pizza this week

Today is National Pizza Day which is different than National Pizza Week or Month but still an important day to just honor our loved one: pizza. But as we do, we have to gear up for another love buzzing around us right now as Valentine's Day looms ever closer.

February 14 is a day for lovers. But for lovers of pizza it is also a great day to offer some great deals.

#1 Offer a heart shaped pizza for a limited time. 

If you don't have one, here one from the PMQ Recipe Bank.

This is a fun food item for people to order for their loved ones during the holiday (or any time). Plus, it can be a great marketing tool as Jet's Pizza found out when recently in the news for their pizza heart.

#2 Have a Valentine's Day special menu. 
Over at Anzio's Brick Oven Pizza, they created a special date menu with salad, pizza and dessert.

Make your place the best to dine-in for the big date night not just by providing special menus but adding special touches with specialty drinks, desserts or fun decorations.

#3 Add a bonus item to delivery. Pizza 73 in Canada will be delivering movie tickets with its heart shaped pizza to lovers this week. Team up with a local business to offer a Valentine's bonus for your delivery.

#4 Completely transform your pizzeria for the day. Make reservations required. Make more romantic table top decorations including candlesticks and fine china. Go all out to make your place the place for lovers for that night! Frankie's Pizza and Grill is a great example of how to do it.

#5 Don't forget social media! Be sure to share any of your valentine perks on your social media and give people enough time to learn about them. Many have made their plans well in advance so be strategic!