By Eric Randazzo
Does your restaurant serve the best Chicken Parmesan in town? People can’t stop talking about your gelato? Well there’s a good chance your dishes are on Foodspotting, Oink, and Instagram. If you pair that natural publicity with an irresistible social strategy, the customers will come to you.
You’ve seen Facebook and Twitter blow up over the last few years. Social dining is the next trend in restaurant marketing, and these two are just the beginning. Mobile applications and networks have recently taken off in the restaurant and hospitality industry, so here is a run-down on these social mobile applications, and how they can leverage word-of-mouth recommendations for your potential customers.
Take for instance the magnitude of these apps. Foodspotting had over 650,000 users on the iPhone alone at the beginning of 2011. It has since been released to the Android platform, more than doubling its potential. Oink hit 150,000 downloads in a little more than a month and is just getting started – it’s backed by Kevin Rose, whose track record for founding Digg precedes him. Not to be outdone, Instagram’s user base grew from 100,000 to 12 million over the course of the last year.
So while you may be on Facebook and Twitter, there are a number of other targeted social networks and mobile applications that can grow your business right now.
Foodspotting is a location-based dish discovery app. What does that mean? For example, Ann lives in Orlando, and she’s in the mood for pizza. She can pull up Foodspotting on her phone and search for pizza. Since the app is location-based, it automatically knows her proximity to local restaurants. Her search will bring back delicious pictures of nearby pizza submitted by other Foodspotters in the area. Once clicked, each picture entry gives Ann the location of the restaurant and other recommendations for that restaurant.
The app also has a social aspect. Each user can create a profile with a picture that tracks their Foodspottings, lets other users follow them and their food finds, and ranks them by ‘Reputation.’ A particular user boosts their reputation by posting dishes and getting people to click “Want it!” or “Recommend It” when viewing their posts. The ‘Reputation’ ranking helps establish users as credible food critics in their community, and thus have more users following them.
Encouraging Influential Foodspotters to Post Your Delicious Dishes:
- Encourage patrons to photograph dishes and drinks with Foodspotting and share the photos on social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Flickr).
- Offer incentives to encourage customer sharing, such as half-off dessert or a coupon for a next visit.
- Post photos of your most popular or newest dishes to attract prospective customers.
- Create an online Foodspotting menu guide featuring top menu options, and offer a reward to loyal customers who order featured selections. Alternatively, your restaurant could end up on someone else’s guide.