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:
Facebook: facebook.com/business
Twitter: https://business.twitter.com or for small business: https://biz.twitter.com/smallbiz
Instagram: http://business.instagram.com/