Is Social Mobile Marketing the Future or a Fad?

Dec 9, 2011   //   by admin   //   Restaurant Solutions, Virtual Queuing Systems

Is Social Mobile Marketing a Fad or the Future of Restaurant Marketing?

The restaurant industry has experienced the steepest decline in traffic in the last three decades. Fine dining restaurants are feeling the effects of greatly reduced receipts and this segment in particular has contracted significantly in the number of open restaurants. Full service and casual dining restaurants are experiencing flat sales. Fast food chains are seeing flat to marginal sales trends, none of which looks to improve in 2010 with an unemployment rate of over 9%. Cost retrenchment only goes so far and customer aquistion is a necessity. This requires a sound marketing strategy that you can afford, and according to Andy Hall of the blog Restaurant Trendz, “that’s the balancing act.”

Most restaurants in today’s economic climate can’t afford prime time commercials, major print advertising campaign. Radio, although cost effective, alone may not be enough. Many restaurants have either thought about it or toyed with setting up a Facebook account. Some have been successful but many have not because social media campaigns requires a well thought out strategy and a dedicated focus to optimize the channel. Setting up a Facebook page with your logo and this week’s specials isn’t going to do it.

What is Social Mobile marketing? Social media marketing refers to the explosive trend in “common communities” online where friends, business associates and families network and share their lives. The biggest being Facebook More than 400 million active users, 50% are active users that log on daily with an average of 130 friends in their network, according to Facebook. Although Facebook is the most popular other sites we recommend developing strategies for include LinkedIn, a professional networking site and MeetUp.com, a site were people with shared interest meet on line to arrange to meet in person as a group.

“Mobile” in social mobile refers to mobile marketing, the most direct method of marketing to your customers is by far right to thier cell phone. Over 200 million American’s have a mobile phone and over 60% text message. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have mobile status alert features where subscribers can get there updates sent right to their phone. Like an email marketing campaign, mobile marketing can be very effective by sending text coupons to a subscribers cell phone. Restaurant pager technology now enables you to manage your wait list by sending a text or voice message to your guests cell phone. These systems are referred to as restaurant text pagers and are very effective. Systems like Mobile Matradee offer an integrated mobile marketing platform as well. To learn more about restaurant pagers check out the blog Mobile Matradee.

The explosion of iPhones and Droids have made accessing your social networking site on the fly even easier. This trend will continue to grow and restaurants should consider developing a mobile website as well. Overall, ABI Research data indicates that about 25% of US consumers accessed the internet via mobile phone at least once per day in February 2010.

Successful restaurant social networking marketing campaigns are based on loyalty enhancing, real-time updates that engage your guests and puts your restaurant top of mind. An effective web site and mobile marketing campaign should also be utilized and integrated into your marketing program. Any traditional media you use should always promote your social media accounts and mobile loyalty campaign call to action. The value proposition of both social media marketing and mobile marketing campaigns is the ability to capture customers beyond the limited duration of your print or radio campaign. You know have them either as “fans” or their cell phone number as a “subscriber”. Social mobile strategies are the best way to assure ROI from any marketing campaign you execute. Both offer great metrics. Remember, social and mobile campaigns require weekly if not daily interaction by you and your staff. The fresher the content, particularly for social media campaigns, the more engaged your customers will be.

Mobile marketing campaigns are the most effective direct marketing you can do but the key is to offer valuable incentives for your guests in turn for their cell phone number. Customers in mobile loyalty program expect to receive valuable and exclusive promotional offer (by one get one free, 25% off text coupon, etc), make sure you delivery. Mobile is especially effective because it is INSTANT you can drive business with the right promotion in a matter of an hour or two. A great resource for restaurant mobile marketing strategies is http://www.mobilevipbiz.blogsopt.com or the

Prior to moving forward with your social mobile marketing campaign consider the following:

  • Determine what you want to achieve. Have a clear goal in mind and build your program around that goal. Make it measurable and constantly benchmark your progress.
  • Have a clear understanding of your brand and market position.
  • Know what your guests want from you. What type of content should you provide in order to obtain maximum actionable results? What’s in it for them? Work through these questions early in the game.
  • Social mobile campaigns work best as loyalty programs.
  • Integrate your social mobile call to action into all of your marketing material.
  • The medium might be free but the value of your promotion to build your fan base or mobile subscriber list requires an investment. Make sure your promos are perceived as true value.
  • Who on your staff is going to manage the system, provide content updates and maintain it? In today’s electronic and digital media, outdated content is the kiss of death.
  • Build your followers first and foremost. Expect it to take time to build your fans and subscriber list, usually 90 days of actively promoting your campaigns will you start seeing your lists grow.
  • As you list grow consider viral / affiliate marketing strategies to get your fans and subscribers to get their friends and family to join too.
  • Constantly engage your fans and subscribers by asking for feedback, reward for user generated content, host exclusive parties for your fans and subscribers

Ben Wheeler of the Social Mobile Project, a social mobile advertising agency for restaurant’s, recommends MeetUp.com. Meet Up is a popular network that is design to bring people together on-line that share a common interest so they can meet up in person. Restaurants are great Meet Up locations and I recommend you reach out to the MeetUp group organizers in your market, according. By formulating a “MeetUp” strategy you can be a preferred MeetUp site, according to Mr. Wheeler. This is great for attracting small and larger Meet Up grounds. Start your own MeetUp ground too.

I recommend the following resources in developing your social mobile strategy.
Mobile Marketing Assocation for best practices in mobile marketing.
Facebook, the most popular social networking site
MeetUp a social networking site that is design to bring people to gather in person.
Mobile Trendz, a blog dedicated to trends in mobile marketing technology
Social mobile Project has a great website that demonstrates how to go about setting up a social mobile campaign for a restaurant.

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