2010 Is About Meaningful Content

Written for and cross-posted on FohBoh.com. I’m one of ten front-page contributors to FohBoh – the largest social network for the restaurant industry with over 13,000 members.

There’s been tens of thousands of conversations this past year about social media:

  • what is it,
  • how do you quantify ROI,
  • how can you compare it to traditional marketing/advertising,
  • what is the role of traditional PR/Marketing/Ad agencies with it,
  • how do you use it, and,
  • what is the most effective strategy?

Have you figured it all out?

I haven’t – social media is extremely dynamic, fluid and changing all the time. I read the leading social media theorists (Mashable.com, Paul Barron, Amanda Hite, Chris Brogan and numerous others) constantly; every day. While I’m not an expert and never want to be called a guru, I am most definitely a proponent, a social media evangelist and power user, both for my business and on behalf of some of my clients.

There’s been a number of pronouncements in the past few weeks – predictions – of what 2010 will bring for marketing, public relations, advertising and social media. I’m here on the last day of 2009 to share my distillation of these predictions with you.

The End of Traditional Marketing & Advertising (Static Announcements)

Let’s face it – have the marketing/advertising/PR strategies of the last forty years worked for you over the last two years?

  • Is running a newspaper ad every week with a coupon really working for you?
  • Is running a thirty second radio ad like a used car salesman begging people to “come on down” really working for you?
  • Is the static “brochure” of a website really working for you?
  • Is getting listed on the restaurant page of the newspaper working for you?
  • Are the menu pages in the Yellow Book working for you?
  • Is your direct email campaign really working?
  • How results-satisfied are you with text messaging the special on hot wings and draft beer?
  • Did placing an ad in the State Visitors Guide really work for you?
  • Did making that 60 second video ad for the local cable network really pay off?
  • Are static messages (think: flyers/coupons/etc) on Facebook and Twitter working for you?
  • [for the major multiunits] Did that 30 or 60 second major network ad really build relationships in your local communities?

I could go on. It seems there’s countless means to market and advertise a static announcement to the public. Is it really working for you?

2010 Equals Content

Your customers want to believe you are in community with them – for their needs, desires and wishes. Are the traditional strategies listed above really demonstrating how much you value your customer?

So how can you communicate with your customer dynamically, meeting their needs and desires?

  • Listen to them
  • Comment on their messages – sincerely
  • Let them produce content toward you
  • Don’t get defensive
  • Keep the mantra simple: It’s Not About You : It’s About Your Customer

Paul Barron and I had a conversation last week about the landscape of marketing, advertising and the social web. In an excellent post titled “Real Time Search could impact restaurants – big time!” on his blog Social Coco, Paul states “The point is that real-time is consuming the web in terms of new content that was not there just a few short years ago. This new content will impact restaurants in a big way as consumers not brands post videos, blogs, tweets, wall posts and podcasts more about their restaurant experience. And guess what all this will come up in: real-time search!”

John Jantz, in an article titled “Small Businesses Will Simply Become More Naturally Social” (cross-posted on Social Media Today and Duck Tape Marketing), states: “Social media activity and behavior can help facilitate communication and connection with your entire collaboration universe: prospects, customers, suppliers, partners, and employees and as such should be freed from the limited thinking.”

Free Stuff

We all like free stuff in this industry – free samples from the sales rep, free food and goodies from the tradeshows, etc. The old saying “free is a very good price” is part of our weekly vernacular. How many of you like free positive publicity?

Why not encourage your customers to share their life-stories with you through social media? Maybe a customer’s son or daughter videotaped the parents wedding anniversary dinner at your place. Perhaps a kid on the local baseball team is a regular customer – ask him for an interview that you can share. Take a couple pictures of your favorite businesspeople around town – share them through social media:

“My friend Joe at Zeke’s Auto knows more about foreign cars than anyone else I know. (picture link on web of Joe)”

What I’m suggesting is to use your marketing/advertising efforts to build community instead of standing on the street corner bull-horning the nightly special.

The 24 to 48 Hour News Cycle

I’m not saying never talk about your business – I’m saying make the community needs of your customers take priority in your marketing/advertising. I’m saying that even large multi-units can do this – by being meaningfully engaged in local community through social media.

You have the opportunity to create a localized 24 to 48 hour news channel that benefits and build community. And when you talk mostly about others, when you put others first, when you give to the community – it will reward you.

People will respond – and they will love the occasional story from your crew! You – as restaurant owner, as chef or line cook, as general manager, bartender or waiter, hostess or dishwasher – have the opportunity; the right even… or perhaps responsibility, to connect community together – just as much as the minister, town council member or fireman.

Tell your community’s stories first through your messages and your stories last. People will notice. Make your message revolve around your customers, not you.

Blogpost Fluff: Top 2009 Facebook Statistics

Facebook currently boasts over 350 million users

50 percent of Facebook users log on in any given day

Each day, 35 million users update their status

55 million status updates are posted each day

2.5 billion photos are uploaded to the site each month

3.5 million events are created each month

There are more than 1.6 million active Pages on Facebook

Over 700,000 local businesses maintain active Pages on Facebook

Users

The average user has 130 friends on the site

On average, users spend more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook

The Like button is used on 9 pieces of content on average each month

25 comments are written by users on Facebook content each month

Most users are member of at least 12 groups

International

About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States

Over 300,000 users helped translate the site through the translations application

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2 Comments to “2010 Is About Meaningful Content”

  1. Great article Jeffrey. I like your descriptor as “Proponent” of social media. The learning curve on SM looks like a continual 90 degrees.

    I know this though, SM puts the focus back on human beings and away from cluster demographics. This is a very good thing.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Thanks Jeff. I’m going to use this for some upcoming conversations.

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