Viva la Social Network
I’ve wanted to come back to my prior discussion on social media since I posted last Friday so here goes. I recently came across this article on CNN Money and it very explicitly lays out the importance of social networking to new food businesses. The article discusses a new fast food company called 4food, which plans to save 8-10% of gross sales by reducing traditional marketing spend and instead will rely on their customers to Tweet, blog, report via FourSquare, Facebook, etc, to promote this new culinary concept. They are spending that savings on higher quality, healthier ingredients and expecting that customers will be so delighted they’ll do the marketing! This is an extreme example – we have not factored social network related marketing savings into our business plan, but we do rely on it more than on any other marketing medium. 4food has a large in-restaurant digital billboard that shows what customers check in on FourSquare and what customers are Tweeting about their unique burger combos. This idea is cool – bring social networking into a physical space to encourage in-person social interaction. Converting online socializing into in-person socializing is something that has had limited success as far as I know but maybe 4food will hit it big with this idea. We always envisioned CdT to be a place to hang out but the lack of physical enclosure makes it difficult for us to create a social environment outside the truck. Maybe if we had a digital billboard it would encourage customer interaction with us, and with each other, making the environment around the truck more endearing.
I get a huge kick out of seeing our customers’ Tweets and Facebook updates referencing us. Each mention is truly a small, free marketing message coming from a much more objective source than our own marketing images. This is wonderful for us as long as our customers like our product. Fortunately, we’ve found that if our customers are following us on Facebook and Twitter they seem to be fans of our product and have only reported good things out to their respective social networks. We haven’t estimated the number of positive impressions we’ve received as a result of our social networks but it’s certainly better than none. We’ve experimented in the past with Facebook promotions to encourage our customers to follow us and to help us promote our brand to their networks. It has generally worked well but we are about to lay out some outrageous new promos that will be only known to our online friends. Follow us soon if you’re not now, the Coup de Online Revolution is about to go down!