Posts tagged ‘LinkedIn’

August 2, 2011

Atypical Virgo in Recovery ~ The Importance of Social Network Lists

Over the years, I’ve built some pretty large communities in social media, both for myself and for some clients. As those communities were built, my HAED (hyper-active-entrepreneurial-disorder) brain neglected a necessary task. Categorizing connections into lists and taking notes on their attributes (friends, careers, interests and relationships).

Now, today, I have a problem. It’s simply overwhelming to pay attention to key relationships, when their social networking is scattered amongst everyone’s activity. I miss stuff that I know is key and relevant, as a result.

Over the last couple months, I’ve been slowly recovering a better footing, making sure to list new folks and spending a bit of time going back and doing this with older connections. My favorite list is Met In Real Life; thanks to @RickBakas for that great suggestion.

I’ve developed broad categories mostly related to professions and interests. I look at connection’s profiles to determine where they fit.

What does putting people into lists allow me to do? How is it better for me? With lists, I can go to a category and catchup with what others are up too. It streamlines my “reading of the news” from others. For clients, it’s a great way to categorize current customers, potential customers and other areas of interest.

Are you using lists in your social networking? What works for you to manage all the incoming content?

April 10, 2011

Get SMART NW – Social Media Advanced Relationship Training

Just launched and we’re wicked excited!

Get SMART NW was created to solve a problem – a lot of talk about social media, but no actual learning solutions. This program combines hands on learning, worksheet and tips to support your learning process. It’s a big world out there, but you don’t have to face it alone.

We understand that social media is a big ol’ complex world that changes every day. Our nine progressive classes help you learn, enjoy and succeed in social media.

It’s a big online world out there. You don’t have to face it alone. Get SMART NW pairs you with classmates at the same level of social media understanding to create a learning community. Affordable, easy and tailored to your needs.


Get SMART today!

We’re very excited to partner with Scene Marketing Group in offering this comprehensive and intensive social media training course.


February 20, 2010

Small Biz Social Media

I’ve become really fascinated with how small independent businesses can take advantage of emergent social web tools. Much of my professional experience has been in the non-corporate world (except for Ritz Carlton, Hyatt, GTE Sprint, and some early career positions); independents generating less than $5 million in annual revenues.

The growth challenges posed to independents are, I believe, much more difficult than that for larger organizations. With larger organizations comes economies of scale. The independent organization manager has so many more hats to wear and not nearly the time or educational resources available.

How can these organizations take advantage of the new tools of the social web? The social web research firm Wetpaint/Altimeter found that organizations with total social media engagement were able to grow their businesses by 18%. It’s no secret that the social web offers organizations opportunities, but these players aren’t able to afford the market rate for social media strategists and community managers ($100/hour and $60/hour respectively).

**Please do not think you can conduct good social media by hiring a kid with a large Facebook account – that will FAIL miserably.

How does an independent restaurant, inn or coffee house effectively compete against the multi-units in social media? This question has been rattling around my brain for the past six months and I think there is a minimum of three answers:

Do It Yourself.  Doing it yourself offers the operator complete control. It also means significant time in learning effective strategies, tools and methods. In addition, it means significant time involvement in maintaining your social media activities (production, distribution, monitoring, engagement).

Outsource To A Large Firm. Outsourcing to a large firm can be attractive because of the automation offered in distribution, monitoring and analysis. In addition, you don’t have to invest time and money in learning effective strategies, tools and methods.  The disadvantage is that your organization will still have to do the content production and the engagement, requiring your time and attention.

Hire A Small Professional Creative Company. I posit that this is the best option for the independent small business. The creative company brings all the resources for production, distribution, monitoring and engagement – crafting and executing a sound and highly individualized strategy. Time requirement for the organization is minimal, requiring meeting in person or through technology for the creative professional to gather some raw content and give reports/feedback. It’s personal and accountable.

I’m going to forecast here that 2010 will be the year we’ll see an explosion of small creative social media providers catering to small business. Market rates will be reasonable, ball-parking in the $500 to $1000 per month range. With small business being the backbone of the American economy, I believe these social media providers will become the norm.

January 27, 2010

Brave New World

Illustration by Kathy Boake

A great article on how foodservice and hospitality operations can use social media, written for the Canadian hospitality industry by author Lesley Young for Foodservice World Magazine.

FH 01 10_BraveNewWorld

She quotes our CEO Jeffrey J Kingman in several places.

December 31, 2009

2010 Is About Meaningful Content

Written for and cross-posted on 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 (, 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


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


About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States

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

December 18, 2009

2009 Holiday chalkARTblast 006

Strategic Relationship Engineering Both On & Offline

chalkARTblast 006

As we wrap up 2009, we wish to extend sincere holiday greetings to each of you. In addition we want to welcome new relationships; thank our stakeholders, clients and partners and generally give thanks to a very intriguing first six months. Client News

It’s been a very busy six weeks since we last released a chalkARTblast. We’re busy with some new clients and had to dive right in. Here’s some of the more intriguing things coming up on our calendar for the first quarter of 2010.

Filming “Deadly Claws” Aboard An Oregon Dungeness Crab Boat

We were approached by a Dungeness Crab fishing vessel the F/V Harvester sailing out of Coos Bay OR, to sail with them, blog about off-shore crab fishing and do some cooking dockside with the freshest Dungeness Crab you ever had. Well, one thing has led to another and its become a full-fledged video documentary. Now we’re planning (and writing the storyboard for) an hour long production for WebTV, telling the “farm to table” history of off-shore crabbing, the canneries and the danger. They’re going to put me to work as a deckhand in February catching crab for a day in the cold wet swells and then I’ll don a chef jacket and do some cooking at the cannery. The Captain states that this is twenty times more dangerous than “Deadliest Catch”. As an adventurer and complete extrovert, who is passionate about where our food comes from and cooking – its right up my alley.

I hope the Coast Guard Rescue stays close by!

Marsha Collier Requests Research Collaboration

Marsha Collier, author of “eBay for Dummies”, with over 1 million copies in print worldwide and the top-selling eBay author, requested’s assistance and collaboration through two methods.

Marsha has been commissioned to write a book due in June 2010 on Customer Service, with a chapter on restaurants. After reading our “10% of USA Restaurants Using Social Media” study (September, 2009), she requested us to redo the study in March 2010 for inclusion in the restaurant customer service chapter.

Additionally, Marsha and I are launching this next week a Twitter-based discussion on customer service. This discussion will be weekly on Tuesdays at 9 pm eastern – you can participate by following #custserv. Conference on Social Media

We’re still waiting for confirmation of this one – but Michael Atkinson, CEO of the largest social network,, for the restaurant industry internationally, invited me to participate as a panelist in a conference sometime in 2010. If the conference is confirmed, I’ll be joining Guy Kawasaki and the founders of LinkedIn and on-stage to discuss how the social web can and does impact the restaurant industry. I’m extremely humbled and flattered by the invitation and do hope the conference happens.

“Branded” – The Legacy Five Generation Montana Rancher

We’ve been in dialogue with the oldest cattle ranchers association in the USA, Montana Stock Growers Association, for a long time. I started this relationship in 2007 when we were talking about bringing a line to the national restaurant industry of natural Montana beef, raised and processed from birth to box in-state.

Over the past three months we’ve been in dialogue with them about their social media strategies. Again, one thing has led to another and now we are talking about another hour long documentary exploring “farm to table” and what it means to be a five-generation Montana rancher. More danger! The ranchers want to bring me and the filmmaker out during spring branding, put me on a horse, make me handle a rope and possibly make a few Rocky Mountain Oysters (yes, cutting). At the end, after documenting the history of Montana cattle ranching and exploring the myriad issues they face today we’ll do some cooking of beef.

We have much more news below…


Customer experience, satisfaction and loyalty are

built from the table up.

Your food, service, management and corporate identity meet the customer in the restaurant. So why wait until customers leave to measure their experience? Through Rewarding Feedback your customers can articulate specific experiences that are important to them. Rewarding Feedback allows your managers to “hear” what customers are saying while they are still seated and at the height of their dining experience.

Rewarding Feedback


The Oregon Truffle Festival

Seattle’s top food blogger and restaurant consultant, Traca Savadago ( and I are headed out to the vineyards of Oregon at the end of January to blog the Oregon Truffle Festival. Willamette Valley Vineyards just seeded 16 acres of truffle spoor and Oregon truffles are rapidly edging out European truffles for reputation. Traca will be with the chefs in the kitchen over the two days while I am video-blogging the two day “Train Your Dog to Hunt Truffles” workshop.

Coffee Fest

We just started a year long relationship to handle all of Coffee Fest’s social media. As part of this, I’m seeking certification as a barista. Coffee Fest is the most respected tradeshow for the specialty coffee and tea industry internationally, with shows in Meadowlands NJ, Minneapolis and Seattle.

We’re launching an internationally comprehensive social media strategy for Coffee Fest, to increase attendance, exhibitors and overall show experience. A very intriguing part of this relationship is that we’ll be live web streaming the Barista Competitions at all three tradeshows! We decided to call this “bean-casting” (instead of sports-casting) the competitions. In addition, I’ll be speaking on the social web at each Coffee Fest Executive Summit during the tradeshows.

Renaissance Gourmet

We’ve been working with Renaissance Gourmet (British Columbia, CAN) on clarifying their casually elegant lifestyle brand and market the past month and finding them sponsors. As part of this, we’re helping to create and develop a strategic brand/concept in WebTV, e-Books, blogging and other content. The market for Renaissance Gourmet is international female 25 to 55, with significant existing traffic (over 125,000 views per

month) coming from the USA, Australia, Canada and the UK. This project also involves international strategies in social media to grow viewership and further monetization of the brand.

Renaissance Gourmet offers casually elegant lifestyle advice, simply upscale gastronomy, travel, farm-to-table documentaries and just shot a pilot for a non-exclusive series on the Australian Lifestyle Podcast Network.

Challenge Issued to USA Restaurant Industry

We’ve tossed a challenge down to the restaurant industry in the USA. With 945,000 restaurant operations in the country, we think we’ve got a great challenge.

We asked the industry to put over 100 marathon runners into the 2011 Boston Marathon, each sponsored with over $1000 in pledges. The fund-raiser would benefit Share Our Strength, a twenty-five year nonprofit working to end childhood hunger domestically by 2015.

We caught the interest of Share Our Strength, which referred the challenge to its Great American Dine Out steering committee and other C-Level industry leaders. Really, all this is my effort to get myself running again J. Just teasing… I’ve been involved with Share Our Strength since 1994.

Rewarding Feedback

Strategic networking on behalf of Rewarding Feedback (Toronto, CAN) continues. We’ve introduced them to several potentials on both coasts of the USA and are waiting for the crush of the holiday chaos to end to close these deals. A very intriguing inquiry occurred from an 87 unit restaurant outfit with four brands from South Africa. It’s really tough to coordinate communication between North America and South Africa.

Event Mingle

Event Mingle is a social web based community platform for trade shows. With extremely robust metric analytics and structure, it empowers tradeshows to largely expand the return on investment for both attendees and exhibitors participating. We’ve crafted a relationship with Event Mingle to introduce and refer them through our deep proprietary networks off line.

Great American Spice Company

Great American Spice Company is a large web-based retailer of spices. We’re spreading the word about them to consumers through a social media strategy.

Social Grub

Social Grub is a robust Facebook application for service industry businesses. This application has powerful back-office tools and empowers businesses to use the social web to offer promotions, coupons and broadcast of events and news both through smart-phones and personal computers. We’re in a mutual relationship with Social Grub, referring their product while they refer us.

Other News & Pursuits

In the first quarter of 2010, we’ll be combining our two identities (Chocorua Group and into one brand under the logo and identity. We’ve asked a few diverse peers to provide us critique during this process.

We’re waiting for a yea/nay decision on a pitch we made a few weeks ago to the PR firm handling 1800 Tequila (a brand of Cuervo), 5WPR in New York City. This proposal laid out a six-month global social media strategy. The PR firm indicated to us they were taking the proposal to Cuervo and we’re standing by.

We’re in negotiations with a former client in KennebunkportMaine, Old Vines Wine Bar, to strategize and execute their social media.

We’re in negotiations with Wind Horse Coffee in MilwaukieOregon to strategize and execute their social media.

While there are other negotiations underway across North America and internationally, we just don’t feel comfortable yet sharing them.

Well, that’s all the news that we see fit to print this month. We’d like you to know that chalkARTblast will be distributed monthly from here on – distributed sometime right after the 15th of each month.

Peace On Earth and Goodwill To You!

Jeffrey J Kingman

Happy Holidays from Judith, Bill and Jennifer – partners.

chalkARTblast is produced and distributed by

Copyright Ó2009 LLC

(503) 305-6397


December 17, 2009

Debate About Customer Contact and Feedback Systems

Debate About Customer Contact/Feedback Systems

Social Web, Email, Paper Comment Cards, Tableside and Blogs

Technology is completely changing the game for service industries. You would not be reading this post two years ago if it weren’t for the atomic explosion of the social web.

I believe paper comment cards are dead. They have zero value today. For reasons enumerated by several sources here in FohBoh and my own observations, I declare the paper comment card an archeological relic of an earlier age. If you are still using paper comment cards, you’re a dinosaur.

I also believe there is limited functionality communicating with customers via email. Do you really think a customer is going to provide their email address to you – just so you can send them advertising and marketing? My email inbox is flooded with relevant content: Clients, Peers, LinkedIn discussions, about twenty different Smart Briefs, Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and my favorite blogs that I want to see; not to mention the tweets I want to save. I don’t have time to open your advertising and marketing junk (especially if I opened it once before and that is what it was).

Blogs that are written well, contain intriguing imagery or video with compelling content, are informative of the life of your business (meaning your people, your passions, where you source your materials, or what fun-filled special event is happening) are going to interest me. I’ll probably follow you – either by RSS feed or asking you to directly email me with it. I know it’s a blog. I know that you’ve put time into it. It’s succinct, relevant and visually compelling.

But I’m here today to argue something tried and true. Visiting tables. You know this works. Just as you know that if the POS system fails, you can always write chits.

I wonder how many operators keep old-school blank ticket pads in the office for that emergency?

There’s no more effective customer contact and customer feedback system than the owner or manager spending time on the floor visiting tables. Chatting up regulars and greeting new faces is the simplest, easiest and most direct personal contact an operator can implement to build relationships and get feedback, discover customer concerns and let the customer know how much you appreciate their business. It’s at this point that gaining effective feedback happens, whether that is verbal communication or using digitally based survey collection/reward systems.

Now Immagonna give you a twist, before I give the microphone back to ya.

The social web, with it’s different networks like Facebook, Twitter, Urbanspoon etc., is virtual tableside. Customers find it much easier to “friend you” through social networks than they do to give you their email. They find it much easier to post comments on restaurant search sites, than they do to (risk their security) provide you their email. And you get to draw them into conversations. Just as there is a virtual front door to your restaurant – there’s a virtual tableside chat waiting for you.

If you want examples of this, go follow Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill on Twitter (@Rick_Bayless) or Ron Zimmerman of the Herb Garden ($190 pp dinners) on Twitter (@Herbguy). They’ve been doing it for a year. The customer feedback they receive is astounding.

Over on Facebook, search out the Boston restaurant Myers & Chang – they do it as does Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse in NorthamptonMA (owned by a socialmedia rockstar).

These case studies prove that restaurants across the dining option spectrum use social media to engage existing and new potential customers by visiting tableside – virtually – and on the floor.

Do you disagree with any portion of this post? I’d love to hear it and debate you…

An interesting find:

A few days ago I received a tweet sharing a 20 minute video by the Executive Editor of WIRED magazine, Kevin Kelly, titled “The Next 5,000 Days On The Web”. Did you know that the web is only 5,000 days old now? That’s only thirteen years. We’ve only had email for less than fourteen years. We’ve only had Facebook since 2004. We’ve only had Twitter since 2006.

December 10, 2009

Social Media Marketing in the Restaurant Business – Guest post by Justin Levy

“I’m often asked about the story of my little steakhouse, Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse, in Northampton, MA. It’s not often that I write about our full story. Well, recently I was asked to contribute a case study to the WOMMA Metrics Guidebook. I thought it may provide for an interesting read for you and may give you some insights or be helpful to you for application into your industry. Once you’re done reading, or even before you start reading, make sure you download the WOMMA Metrics Guidebook.” Justin Levy

This is a guest post by Justin Levy. His background:

Justin Levy is General Manager of New Marketing Labs, a new media marketing agency as well home to the Inbound Marketing Summit events, Inbound Marketing Bootcamps and a host of other educational events. In this role Justin helps businesses navigate the unknown seas of new media marketing including how to use social media tools, blogs, community platforms, and listening tools to drive business value. If you’d like more information about how Justin can help your business, please contact him.

When not busy with New Marketing Labs, Justin is Partner and General Manager of Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse, located in Northampton, MA. To learn more about Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse, please visit our About section. To share his food expertise, Justin also blogs at Prime Cuts where he teaches his readers kitchen techniques, how to cook, how to grill and shares innovative recipes.

Justin regularly speaks to groups and at events about his successes in driving revenue using new media with his steakhouse. You can find Justin at many different social media, marketing and tech events, conferences and meetups. If you’re interested in having Justin speak at your next event, please check out his Speaking Page.

In general, restaurants have a few main ways that they typically market their business: You can run ads in the local grillnewspapers, buy radio spots, have television commercials produced, and grab prime billboard locations. All of these marketing tools will help gain a restaurant visibility and exposure. They’re part of most restaurants’ marketing toolboxes. But, these marketing tools don’t help when an increasing number of eyeballs are turning to Google as their primary source of information.

When my best friend and now-partner, Joseph Gionfriddo, purchased Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse, the extent of the restaurant’s web presence consisted of, essentially, just a copy of the menu. Joe was spending most of the marketing budget on local newspapers and radio spots. The restaurant was struggling to survive even though the food that Joe prepared was some of the best I, and everyone else that came through Caminito’s doors, had ever tried.

Recognizing an opportunity to lower our marketing budget and use the web as the primary tool to drive more bodies through the front door, I approached Joe with the offer of a partnership. My primary responsibility: create the strongest presence, both offline and online, for Caminito, in as short of time as possible.

We immediately sketched out a 12-month strategic marketing plan that included:

* A complete revamp of the website.
* Developing an online presence through social networks, a blog, and a video blog.
* Creating a listening station that allowed us to monitor for conversations across the web about us, our restaurant, our competition and our industry.

Since many of these tactics provide for solid SEO, as part of our goals, it helped us to gain several thousand links in Google and other major search engines. As our online presence became stronger and we developed a more engaged community, we began to rank for prime keywords that we targeted as being important for our restaurant to drive business through search results.

Our take: if prospective customers ran searches for restaurants in the area while making a decision of where to dine and our restaurant dominated the front page of Google, they would be more likely to visit Caminito. Though we had made the decision to decrease our traditional marketing spend by approximately 80% we still continued to run local newspaper and some radio spots. Since not all of our customers use the Internet to do their research, it was important to us to continue to use these avenues to reach our customers. We also contacted each of the newspapers, other print publications, radio and associations to negotiate for digital advertising options, linkbacks on their websites, logo, bio and/or menu publishing.

The first month of this strategy being in play we saw a sales increase of 20% as compared to the same month the previous year. Over the past almost two years we have maintained an increase in sales every single month as compared to the same month the previous year. Additionally, we have finished each year approximately 20-25% up in sales as compared to previous years.

As time has continued, we have tweaked our strategic marketing plan but still maintain the above tactics. This has helped to continue to create conversations, both online and offline. To measure the continued increase in online conversations we use a combination of Google Alerts and Twitter Search. While this does create some duplication, it ensures that we never miss any conversations happening around us, our brand, our competition, or our industry. We monitor offline conversations through anecdotal interactions we have with our community and inferred through the continued increase in new customers and increased sales.

To further guide decision-making we also measure everything from the number of comments we receive on a blog post, to the number of hits on a video, the total number of subscribers, where those subscribers come from, how and where our blog and video posts are shared, who shares them, the level of engagement we have, the number of conversations that are started and tons more. The challenge is keeping up with all of this data flowing in and bringing it all together to analyze our overall online impact.

As a result of the measurement systems we have in place the impact of online and offline conversations is clear to us. Online conversations help to further our online brand, increase conversations, improve search rank for evolving prime keywords, demonstrate and expertise in the food industry, create new opportunities, and increase sales. The offline conversations translate to word of mouth marketing that helps to drive increase and repeat sales.

December 3, 2009

Restaurant Websites: Where Creativity Goes To Die

Restaurant Websites: Where Creativity Goes To Die
by Zachary Adam Cohen on November 30, 2009
Originally Posted on Zachary Adam Cohen

The Agony and Pain of Restaurant Websites

Smooth Jazz? Flash? Impossible Navigation? Incredibly Long Loading Times?

The current state of restaurant websites is pathetic. Haven’t we had enough of this? Why do restaurants think they can get away with putting up a brochure of their offerings and expect their customers will respond by flocking to their establishment? In a city like New York, with thousands of dining options, it is simply not enough to broadcast your service to a sophisticated public. Even in smaller cities and towns with far fewer options, restaurants are failing miserably to adapt to the realities of how consumers spend their money today.
Let’s Take a Look at Why

The 20th Century is why! All one had to do was broadcast, hire some P.R. people, get the word out and hoped and prayed that the customers started flocking.

Not anymore folks! American’s get a bad rap for being lazy, apathetic gluttons who watch too much TV and lack any real culture. Silly I say! Social Media is changing that perception right quick! And more importantly, it’s changing the truth about Americans.

American consumers are quickly becoming a discerning sophisticated consumer. Part of this is due to the recession. We are all going through a phase of re-prioritizing just what it is we REALLY want to spend our money on. And what we want to spend our money on is places, products and people we believe in, that we feel connected to, that we feel we have a stake in.

Social Media makes this all possible. We can now communicate directly with the brands and businesses that get, or could potentially get, our spending money. And it’s all public. No more ruses, no more telephone hangups, no more poor customer service. Why not? Cause when you piss off a customer these days, they can get you back. They can Twitter it, they can post a youtube video, they can blog about it.
What Do Restaurants Need To Excel in Social Media?

First thing’s first, you need a blog. There are so many stories to tell. Who are they? WHY are they? What motivates the chef, the servers? Give me a narrative damnit. I want your food but I also want your story. Restaurants are one of the few remaining places that we go to truly disconnect. To be with our loved ones, our friends, our family. We get to connect in real life after SO much connecting online.

But I want to do so in a place that has captured me with their story. And you can’t do that without a blog. Start one, make the time to learn the basics and start sharing. You will quickly find a lot of people willing to share your story. You’ll find your natural constituency. Are you a Nouvelle Mexican spot in Boerum Hill? Well, talk Mexican food. Share stories about authentic Mexican ingredients. For the Chef: Write a post about any stage work you did in Mexico or Spain or wherever! Who trained you? What did you learn?

Where does your food come from? Talk about your vendors, the farms and middlemen that get the product you serve? Talk about the menu, how was it created? What inspired this dish or that? Give us some context. You don’t have to give away every little secret. We still like to be surprised. But give us something!

Oh, and can we please get your social media links? Every website in the world has their social media links proudly displayed on their website. And you don’t? I know 14 year old Indonesian scam artists who have better designed websites than you do. Oh and btw: you got ripped off royally on your site.

And tell us who is doing the twittering? Is it a host? What’s her name? The Chef? The PR Firm? Let’s get some transparency people.

How Can You Use a Blog To Entice Customers?

As I am known to do, I asked Twitter AKA The Hive Mind about this today. One user, a new friend name John True suggested letting blog readers know about special “off the menu” items. This is a fantastic idea. Every so often the restaurant could end a blog post with an “Easter Egg.” Basically, they could leave a clue telling readers (or twitter followers) about something special going on. This a great way to make your readers feel their are privy to something special. And it’s another creative way to convert readers to customers.

What about letting blog readers, or Facebook Fans, or Twitter followers get first dibs on any special events? And what about video? And Pictures?

Start a YouTube channel, get a Flip HD camera and start interviewing regular customers. Is someone coming by once a week? Get him or her on tape to tell us why? What draws that customer back? Maybe we’ll feel the same way. Are testimonials so hard to produce? Stop relying on a big media dinosaur to come to your rescue. Yes, The New York Times is still important, and hopefully always will be, but for the most part, the impact of professional critics is nominal. If 20 food bloggers love you, and 5 critics don’t, guess who wins? It ain’t the critics. No one trusts them anyway.

Zac is a friend active in social media services in NYC and a VERY accomplished food blogger with the award-winning blog Farm To Table: The Emerging American Meal

November 6, 2009

Are your servers making spitballs of “bad” comment cards?

Do your restaurant managers get every comment card guests fill out? Are waitstaff trashing the bad comment cards? Do you have an effective means to capture guest contact info via “opt-in”?

I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Rewarding Feedback – a phenomenal new consumer-focused product that was invented with the primary focus of driving revenue to restaurants, gaming establishments and service firms.

This unique process collects guest experience data at the time of the experience in exchange for coupons for a future visit. The Rewarding Feedback process replaces the need for paper surveys, online questionnaires, telephone follow-ups and even mystery shopper services. The process provides the opportunity for the business to obtain feedback on every customer interaction (rather than the typically low volume of feedback results currently received by conventional means).

The standard restaurant implementation has the on-site hostess present the guest with Rewarding Feedback equipment to complete a quick survey at the end of their meal. Upon completion of the survey, the data is analyzed instantly. The guest receives a valuable coupon, regardless of the survey results, but if the guest experience has been satisfactory, a second coupon is provided to the customer to share with a friend. If the guest experience has been deemed less than satisfactory, on-site management is notified of the problem immediately, thereby allowing the establishment to “save” the relationship with the guest, before they get their bill. Coupon types and expiries can be varied, depending on the marketing campaign established.  In addition, you can market the coupons to other organizations – creating additional revenue.

What makes the Rewarding Feedback process so valuable is that it allows every establishment to collect real-time, actionable data while at the same time turning the consumer into a valuable marketing resource on behalf of the business.
Our reporting portal allows management resources to review individual establishment results or compare results from a single establishment against others in a defined region and/or chain.

For more information visit Rewarding Feedback.