to Connect With Customers
By Dr. Gary Edwards
The Relationship Between Restaurants and Social Media
Traditionally, customers that had a great experience with a brand would share their thoughts with their friends or family by word-of-mouth or by writing reviews in newspapers or magazines. Now, customers have the ability to create social connections with brands and other potential and current customers through social media—a form of engagement that restaurants should embrace for the following reasons:
- It improves customer experience. Restaurants that engage with customers on social networking sites enable guests to share their dining experiences—positive or negative—with their social communities. Social media participation by restaurants then allows them to receive valuable customer feedback.
- It demonstrates transparency. When restaurants encourage guests to post photos and feedback on social media platforms, they demonstrate transparency. This show-and-tell mentality empowers customers to trust the brand and impels them to come back in the future.
- It creates brand advocacy. Social media participation becomes a platform for branded promotional engagement when restaurants integrate social networking into their customer experience management strategy. The more brands positively interact with customers, the more affinity customers feel for the brand.
Using Snapchat to proactively leverage social engagement is a great way for restaurants to connect with fans and drive customer loyalty, as seen by Taco Bell’s successful use of Snapchat. Restaurants can achieve similar success with Snapchat and other social media technologies using several strategies:
- Host contests and promotions. Showcasing contests or promotions via Snapchat engages fans in a fun, exciting way. For example, restaurants can promote a certain dish by encouraging customers to order the item by picture when they visit the establishment. These marketing initiatives help bring in new consumers and strengthen the brand’s connection with existing customers.
- Deliver special dining offers and discount codes. Snapchat offers restaurants new opportunities to utilize special discounts and offers. Restaurants could Snapchat their fans pictures that contain discount codes, which customers can redeem by using screenshots saved on their mobile devices. By directly connecting with Snapchat users in this manner, restaurants empower fans to feel an intimate connection with them.
- Have customers send in “selfies.” Restaurants can encourage customers to send in images of themselves at one of their locations to forge personal connections with their social followers. By inspiring customers to share their self-generated images, or “selfies,” restaurants improve brand advocacy and customer loyalty while elevating the quality of the customer experience.
- Give exclusive sneak peeks. A fun way to engage fans is to give them sneak peeks of signature dishes and drinks or seasonal items before they hit the menu. Sharing exclusive content via Snapchat emboldens customers to participate in a restaurant’s social community, fostering a sense of camaraderie among restaurant fans.
Dr. Gary Edwards, Chief Customer Officer at Empathica, is responsible for oversight of sales, marketing, client strategy, marketing science and retail insights. Gary is involved in solving business challenges with research and technology solutions. He has served a key leadership role during program development, implementation, and follow-up with clients for the past eight years at Empathica. For over 15 years prior, Gary led worldwide and domestic research projects in customer and employee research.