Social media, the new Word-of-mouth marketing

Date: 07-10-2012

Does the sight of customers tapping on mobile phones at your restaurant or cafe annoy you? Well it shouldn’t!

Whether you know it or not, they may well be your best Word-of-mouth marketers.

Mobile Check-in’s on Facebook and Foursquare are having phenomenal growth. If you think that social media is for people who like to tell the whole world about what they’re doing or thinking – you’re right!

Granted its not for everyone, but as a business owner Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter users could be your best Free Word-of-mouth marketing engine.

Some facts about Australians:

  1. There are nearly 10.89 million Facebook users, or 51% of the Australian population
  2. Australians visited Facebook 6.2 billion times in 2011 for an average of 1.6 visits a day, lasting 26.5 minutes each visit (source: Experian, March 2012)
  3. 1.6 million Australians use Twitter
  4. 53,000 use Foursquare
  5. The average Facebook user has over 240 Friends, but most Facebook users let Friends of Friends see posts where their Friends have responded(source: Time magazine Techland)

So what does this all mean?

Marketing has undergone an evolution. Word-of-mouth has now evolved online, where friends checking in or sharing photos on social media, are actually ‘confirming’ that:

  1. They have visited the place;
  2. They like it enough to share it; and
  3. They might even like it enough to share pictures of the food, decor, or of the menu

Traditional word-of-mouth was often limited to someone asking a question, and someone replying one-on-one. In social media word-of-mouth no one has to ask a question, yet everyone can see the answer. A one-to-many effect.

Social validation – the new Word of Mouth

A good friend of mine is addicted to Facebook, and more recently Foursquare. As soon as we sit down she’s checking in online, and her friends are already commenting or Liking her post. This is Free advertising for the place she’s visiting, but that’s not why she’s doing it. She doesn’t get paid.

Sylvia likes to support small business. Plus she’s a super friendly person. Being a small business owner, I think she sees value telling her friends what she’s up to, and admittedly she has now become the “go to” person for when we’re looking for somewhere to eat or drink. Her photos could be mistaken as professional, even though she only uses her iPhone or an automatic digital camera. Restaurant owners like Paul Matthis are happy to Tweet with her, even though it might be the occasional question. Whether Paul he knows it or not the value Sylvia brings to his businesses, is:

  1. Awareness – especially as Paul has just opened six new eateries in Melbourne. As a result I’ve discovered and eaten at 3 of those otherwise unknown places. I’m a semi-regular at one, and curious to try the other 3. I have easily spent $hundreds at his cafes and restaurants, as well as introduced them to friends and family I’ve brought along. Imagine how many of Sylvia’s 390+ Facebook Friends might have done the same?
  2. Great photos! Annoying as it is that we can’t touch the food until Sylvia has photographed them they show everyone how great the food is. She emailed them to Paul so he can use them for his new websites.
  3. Social validation! Friends of Sylvia know that she’s relatively fussy… She would not bother sharing photos if she didn’t like the place.

Tips to encourage Social Validation:

  1. If you see a customer taking photos, ask them whether they’d like you to take a group photo for them. They’ll most likely post them on Facebook!
  2. Be accessible via Social media. If unknown customers Tweet or put comments on Facebook, have the courtesy to reply.
  3. Provide an incentive. Savvy business owners know that social validation works. It might just be a small incentive like a free drink, but the $2 it costs to increase awareness and social validation is more powerful than placing an ad in the local paper – which you couldn’t do for $2 anyway.

The world of marketing for restaurants has changed significantly. In the 1980s when we had a restaurant, the power of today’s customers and the impact on restaurant marketing would be unthinkable.

Some other articles you might enjoy:

  1. Best Practice Restaurant Marketing – 3 Things you MUST DO NOW!
  2. Be my Friend on Facebook!
  3. The Restaurant with the $1000 Tweet

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