Posts tagged ‘virtual economy’

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.

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She quotes our CEO Jeffrey J Kingman in several places.

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November 2, 2009

chalkARTblast 004

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chalkARTblast 004

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Welcome to Chalkboarder.com’s chalkARTblast! Inside you’ll find ~

  • Our Client’s News
  • Social Web News Clippings
  • Chalkboarder.com News
  • Job Openings at Chalkboarder.com
  • Favorite Blog Posts Last Week
  • Video Pick of the Week

And other goodies we liked from last week J

ADVERTISEMENT

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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

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Chalkboarder.com Client News This Week

Old Vines

Mike Farrell, a client of Chocorua Group from a couple years ago, reached out to Chalkboarder.com for assistance in both social media and an operational consult. Meeting next week.

Great American Spice Company

The story of The Great American Spice Company is the story of freshness. A meal, like anything else, is only as good as the quality of its components. Which is why we offer nothing but the freshest, highest-quality spices. It’s a difference you can see, smell and taste.

Rewarding Feedback Inc,

Headquartered in Toronto CAN with a US Sales office in Las Vegas, Rewarding Feedback retained Chocorua Group and Chalkboarder.com to collaboratively strategize and execute market penetration into the USA.

As part of that process, they and Chalkboarder.com are developing an extended eight month social media campaign.

Update II: We’re introducing Rewarding Feedback to some restaurants and lodging operations in New Hampshire over the next two weeks.

Twitter = @rewardfeedback

Facebook Page

Social Grub

SocialGrub allows restaurants and retailers to create coupons, instant offers, discounts, and other promotions once and then automatically distribute them through their own branded Facebook and MySpace applications, as well as on Twitter and other micro-blogging sites and through widgets.

We’re just getting started with the folks at Social Grub and will be developing a comprehensive strategy to introduce them and their products. This relationship is unique in that their services depend on their clients using social media – so we’ve become the referral Social Grub provides to potential and existing clients.

1337 Wine & 1337 Wine TV

Following a conversation with Marc Fusco, Owner of 1337 Wine, we’re sharing his Skype Wine Tasting Series over social networks. An amazing idea bringing Vintners to a tasting through Skype from around the world.

UPDATE: We’ve negotiated a virtual winery in Second Life to host the first ever virtual/real-world wine tasting. Well announce the Winery, date/time and sl-url in Second Life when we know. Stay tuned for roll-out of social media campaign for this client, starting next week.

Jenee Halstead

Update II: Jenee’s Holiday mailer is almost done and ready for printing.

Tapwater Music

Update II: We’ll be meeting this week with Tapwater on strategies for winter. Wrapping up development of their new website.

Savant Culinaire

Savant Culinaire is offering a sweet package gastronomic tour of Chile in late March of 2010. Chalkboarder.com is executing the social web networking and promotion of this amazing itinerary.

Update II: Started heavy promotion via social media of this amazing gastronomic tour of Chilean wine and food. Reservation inquiries beginning.

Chocorua Group

Chocorua Group (a sister company of Chalkboarder.com) offers strategic brand and concept development for organizations.

Update II: Chocorua Group was introduced through LinkedIn to a potential strategic brand national roll-out client based in Los Angeles. Stay tuned.

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Social Web Clippings ~ Our Favorites From The Last Week

Mashable: Tweet Humor: 10 Twitter Users That Crack Us Up

FOHBOH: Why Urbanspoon’s Rez is no match for OpenTable..

Mashable: International Domain Names Coming in 2010

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Chalkboarder.com News

Employment Announcements

  • Group Creative Director. Searching for a PortlandOR based Creative Director experienced in edgy public relations/marketing campaigns, communications, social web. Must be street and business savvy and “get” cutting edge social media.
  • Chief Technology Officer. Searching for a CTO well and deeply versed in Web 2.0 and 3.0 developments. Must have deep experience in web and mobile applications.
  • Regional Sales Directors. Chalkboarder.com is searching for uniquely qualified persons with established networks, especially in the hospitality industry. Commission based with benchmark milestone ownership opportunities. Opportunities for this position exist geographically in:
  • Boston
  • Washington, DC
  • Dallas
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco, and
  • Los Angeles

We are in second round interviews with very talented applicants for NYC and Atlanta.

  • Social Web Strategists. Searching for talented and creative account managers. Based in PortlandOR. Must be fluent and established in the social web. High personal follower counts are a plus.
  • Human Resource Director. Searching for a talented and savvy HR Director to be based in PortlandOR.
  • Chalk Artist. We’re looking for one unique artist, experienced in the traditional medium of chalk art. Half-time to start. This position is Oregon based and will produce a video-taped chalk art rendering of a Chalkboarder.com’s client message for each chalkARTblast. Videos will be permanently maintained on You Tube and distributed virally. Great opportunity to get your skills noticed.

Negotiations This Week

  • Veritable Quandary. We’ve pitched a proposal to one of PortlandOregon’s most venerable restaurants to execute their social media. PENDING
  • Coffee Fest. We were invited to present a seminar at Coffee Fest NYC/NJ in March and when asked if we could propose social media services, were invited too. UPDATE: Tweaking details of dialogue. CLOSING
  • Social Grub. Still in dialogue with Social Grub on many levels. If we land them, you’ll be first to know! CLIENT SECURED
  • Denominational Capital Campaign Consultancy. Dialogue continues with this quiet, yet effective consulting group, that approached us for assistance in guiding churches on social media applications. PENDING
  • We’re launching a global social media campaign pitch to one of the world’s most distinctive alcohol brands, Jagermeister. PENDING

Publishing, Speaking, Seminars & Conferences

Jeffrey was invited to present a seminar on social media at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts on Dec 29th.

Jeffrey J Kingman, CEO, was invited to present a seminar on social media/web at Coffee Fest in NY/NJ, March 4, 2010.

Jeffrey and Dr. Ola Ayeni of M-Dialog are co-producing a video webinar on social web applications to the hospitality industry, scheduled for Nov. 16. This panel dialogue will also include Paul Barron, Publisher of Fast Casual Magazine. Dr. Ayeni, through a personal relationship, is asking the Chief Marketing Officer of Facebook to moderate. Stay Tuned for further details! RESCHEDULED FOR JANUARY

Jeffrey and Bill Bridgmon (VP of Sales, Chalkboarder.com) are attending the International Hotel/Motel/Restaurant Show in NYC November 7-9 for networking and potential clients.

Jeffrey will be attending (with a media pass) People Reports Best Practices Conference in Dallas, November 10-12. This conference brings together hundreds of CEOs and HR Directors from the major multi-unit restaurant chains in the USA. Networking opportunities abound.

Jeffrey will be attending the annual New England conference of Professional Association of International Innkeepers, November 16-18 in Nashua, NH.

Jeffrey is posting his third article on FohBoh this Thursday as one of their ten featured front-page contributors. All content posted on FohBoh is also cross-posted on our blog – and Jeffrey is a fairly active writer!

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Noted Blogs

Beautiful design can make your guest experience amazing!

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Video Of The Week

(for fun)

Burger King and Windows 7 launch in Japan

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chalkARTblast is produced by Chalkboarder.com

Currently published Mondays, except on federal holidays.

Future publishing will be daily.

Copyright Ó2009 Chalkboarder.com LLC

(503) 305-6397

info

October 7, 2009

Emergent Social Technology Is Changing Hospitality Right Now: Supply Line

Tuesday’s front page FohBohist Amanda Hite shared an outstanding video produced by The Economist – titled “Did You Know 4.0 – The Media Landscape”

The video visually and effectively describes the cresting radicalization of mobile and social web technologies that are already changing the Hospitality Landscape. Are you prepared for this tsunami to affect your operations?

How will emergent mobile and web technology change the hospitality industry over the next couple of years? Over the past few weeks I’ve been sharing communications with Nadia Aly of Microsoft, Michael Atkinson (FohBoh CEO), Paul Barron (Fast Casual) and others who are thinking about this topic.

Much of the dialogue here on FohBoh has centered on how operators should prepare for and take advantage of social media and social networking. There’s been less dialogue on how emergent technologies and applications can improve the efficiency, productiveness and financial return for suppliers and distributors. How can the supply/distribution chain quickly assess and implement new web and media applications to provide greater service to operators?

Let’s look at the various sides of emergent technology and web applications in this light.

Supplier/Distributer Social Networks

What are the advantages to a supplier or distributor in embracing social networks like Facebook or Twitter?

• Increased face-time with operators at their convenience.
• Mini-sales campaigns through social networks.
• Paper-less marketing.
• Introduction of new products through social networks and online redemptions.
• Directly engaging suppliers/food manufacturers through the distributor.

I’ll give you an example, based on years as an Executive Chef. My life as a Chef is busy; this you know. I usually do not have a lot of time to meet personally with the Sales Rep. Often; the Sales Rep drops a sell-sheet, which I might just throw in the trash due to my workload.

It’s likely that I am logging into Facebook at the beginning or end of a day. In the future, my full-line distributor has posted a food manufacturer profile; perhaps with a short video showing me the best product they have to offer and explaining it. Maybe that is a new potato product from McCain or a new green To-Go container from someone else. That message might also offer me a deal if I click on a digital coupon to take advantage. The message is there at my convenience and puts me directly into engagement with the manufacturer.

• Delivery Logistics/Announcements
• Short Orders on Trucks
• Last Minute Deals

Again, let’s go to the future for the Chef. Wouldn’t it be great if the transportation director at the distributor could send a Twitter message to me letting me know the truck is an hour or more late (or – broken down a few hours away)?

I’d be thrilled as the Chef to get advance notice early in the day on my Twitter account that the truck doesn’t have the dried mushrooms I ordered; well, not thrilled, but at least the distributor is giving me and my Sales Rep a heads up so we can figure out a solution as soon as possible.

You know, that Twitter message you sent me 4 pm on Ordering Day, about the buy three cases get one free – I might just take you up on that, especially if I could Tweet you back and say put it on my order. Last minute sale, anyone?

I’m sure there are others here who can think of the social network benefits suppliers and distributors could bring to operators.

QR – Microsoft TAG ~ The Next Evolution of Bar Codes

QR / TAG is the next generation of bar-coding. FOHBOH has an example of the FOHBOH TAG on the front page.

Michael Atkinson posted a great article on Microsoft TAG and QR late Tuesday night – pointed at operators. Let’s look at how manufacturers, suppliers and distributors could take advantage of this intriguing application.

What if the Chef could pass his camera phone over a TAG printed on the delivery invoice, get a secure link to all the invoice data, download that data in comma-separated format and import it right into his inventory management software?

Here’s the benefit to the operator. First, transparency and accountability in the inventory process. There’s no room to manipulate the inventory to skew the cost percentages at the end of the month. The only real variable becomes waste. The distributor is the data entry into the inventory, not the Receiving Agent or Chef.

Second, the ending inventory becomes a different process. If the purchases are being put into the inventory equation on delivery and the sales of inventory are being redacted on the sale – at the end of the period a report of what you should have on hand is generated. With that, inventory becomes a process of marking discrepancies (“hmmm, now where did that go?”).

Third, real-time financial data. Instead of the Chef or Receiving Agent physically updating the purchase cost of items, it’s done automatically, creating a financial document, the inventory that is transparent and last cost purchased. How many inventories have you seen where the prices were at least a few months old? With the volatility of markets, how does that reflect an accurate snapshot or report of your financial position?

What about putting a TAG on a head of beef at birth? Some of my ranching friends are not going to be real keen on this idea of trace-back ability. That TAG gets updated with every inoculation or inspection the animal receives. It gets updated when the animal is moved from ranch to feedlot and then updated again when run through the slaughterhouse. The information on the TAG is then shot-gunned to every portion cut with new TAGS. What does this mean in today’s guest-driven market?

• Product Recall – Instant TAG scan of the steaks in the Chef’s cooler with the mobile phone. Chef knows immediately.
• Empower Restaurant Sales – The restaurant can scan the tags on cryovaced portion cuts and inform their customers that the steaks this week are from Bar-O Ranch in Wyoming, grass-fed on prairie grass and fattened in Nebraska. They could even tell their customers when the animal was born. How powerful is that message from the restaurateur to the customer?

Again, the opportunities to use this new technology are endless. A winery could TAG their bottles with tons of specific information. The wait staff could – heck, even the customer could – scan the TAG on the bottle and know the details of terroir, date of harvest and time in cask.

What if the food manufacturer put a redemption TAG on the case delivered to the operator that they could scan with their phone and email in? What if the distributor put a TAG on the invoice informing the operator of special announcements? What if industry suppliers put TAGs on their magazine advertising containing deals or further information – does this mean the end of product request cards that you have to mail in? What if the manufacturer distributed through Twitter or Facebook to distributors a message with an embedded TAG communicating something compelling with a call-to-action? What if a Sales Rep showed a TAG on his phone that the Chef scanned with his, again sharing a message from either the manufacturer or the distributor?

Here is the TAG I use for Chalkboarder.com.

Chalkboarder.com Services MS Tag

Chalkboarder.com Services MS Tag

Nadia Aly from Microsoft shared with me several other sources for learning about TAGs:

Conclusion

The Social Web, new applications and social networks are creating vast opportunities for unique developments in our industry, not just for operators, but also for manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. The industry engagement across the board is about to explode. All stakeholders in our industry have the opportunity to be incredibly more dynamic, efficient and communicative. How is your organization preparing or strategizing to capitalize on this tsunami?

As always, blog posts here on FohBoh are invitations for engagement and dialogue. We’d love to know what you think about this… got ideas?

October 5, 2009

chalkARTblast 001 : Chalkboarder.com’s New Weekly Bulletin

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chalkARTblast 001

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Welcome to Chalkboarder.com’s first issue of chalkARTblast! Inside you’ll find ~

  • Our Client’s News
  • Social Web News Clippings
  • Chalkboarder.com News
  • Video Pick of the Week
  • Job Openings at Chalkboarder.com
  • Favorite Blog Posts Last Week

And other goodies we liked from last week J

ADVERTISEMENT

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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

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Chalkboarder.com Client News This Week

Rewarding Feedback Inc,

Headquartered in Toronto CAN with a US Sales office in Las Vegas, Rewarding Feedback retained Chocorua Group and Chalkboarder.com to collaboratively strategize and execute market penetration into the USA.

As part of that process, they and Chalkboarder.com are creating an extended eight month social media campaign.

Jenee Halstead

Jenee is in partial retreat for now – working on music and other lifestyle developments. Her newest release, an EP, is almost ready for release. With Chalkboarder.com, Jenee is crafting a holiday campaign and the social web distribution of her new EP.

Tapwater Music

It seems to be the time of year when music groups go into partial seclusion – Tapwater is taking some time off from the road, while their frontman spends a month or so in Africa. We’re really looking forward to his return and sharing new sounds he’s discovered. For Tapwater, Chalkboarder.com is busy building a new website and blog, in addition to developing a comprehensive year long social web strategy.

Savant Culinaire

While Savant Culinaire is a sister company to Chalkboarder.com – or, more of a pet travel project of ours – we think its appropriate to share what Chalkboarder.com is doing on their behalf.

Savant Culinaire is offering a sweet package gastronomic tour of Chile in late March of 2010. Chalkboarder.com is executing the social web networking and promotion of this amazing itinerary.

Chocorua Group

Chocorua Group offers strategic brand and concept development for organizations. They are excited to announce that Rewarding Feedback has retained their services for the next eight months.

Chocorua Group will be assisting Rewarding Feedback with market presence in the USA hospitality and other industries. Stay tuned through Chalkboarder.com for more announcements – such as taking Rewarding Feedback to the following trade shows:

  • New England Food Show, Boston
  • Las Vegas International Restaurant, Nightclub & Bar Show
  • National Restaurant Show, Chicago

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Social Web Clippings ~ Our Favorites From The Last Week

Social Media Today ~ A great article on Best Buy’s recent Facebook snafu. Did they handle it appropriately?

Mashable ~ Mashable reports that Internet Ad Spending in the UK has now topped Television spending.

Mashable ~ We love Mashable’s reporting on the social web. This article lists the 10 Most Romantic Social Media Finds.

Christian Science Monitor ~ CSM is reporting on how Facebook and Twitter are helping the flood victims in the Philippines flee rising waters.

Mashable ~ Five Ways to Make Your Business Transparent. Good reads, good reads.

Social Media Explorer ~ Social Media for a Small Business Restaurant

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Chalkboarder.com News

Employment Announcements

  • Group Creative Director. Searching for a PortlandOR based Creative Director experienced in edgy public relations/marketing campaigns, communications, social web. Must be street and business savvy and “get” cutting edge social media.
  • Chief Technology Officer. Searching for a CTO well and deeply versed in Web 2.0 and 3.0 developments. Must have deep experience in web and mobile applications.
  • Regional Sales Directors. Chalkboarder.com is searching for uniquely qualified persons with established networks, especially in the hospitality industry. Commission based with benchmark milestone ownership opportunities.
  • Social Web Strategists. Searching for talented and creative account managers. Based in PortlandOR. Must be fluent and established in the social web. High personal follower counts are a plus.
  • Human Resource Director. Searching for a talented and savvy HR Director to be based in PortlandOR.
  • Chalk Artist. We’re looking for one unique artist, experienced in the traditional medium of chalk art. Half-time to start. This position is Oregon based and will produce a video-taped chalk art rendering of a Chalkboarder.com’s client message for each chalkARTblast. Videos will be permanently maintained on You Tube and distributed virally. Great opportunity to get your skills noticed.

Negotiations This Week

  • Social Grub. We’re in dialogue with Social Grub on many levels. If we land them, you’ll be first to know!
  • Montana Stock Growers Association. Dialogue should resume again this week. We’re patient with these folks – they’re ranching families that live pretty rurally. We did hear this morning that it had snowed deeply in parts of Montana, so we guess they are pretty busy getting their stock into appropriate quarters.
  • Denominational Capital Campaign Consultancy. This quiet, yet effective consulting group, has approached us for assistance in guiding churches on social media applications. Very intriguing ideas.
  • Subcontracting to traditional PR/Marketing Agencies. We’re exploring two negotiations this week, one with a firm in NYC and the other with a firm in VA. Both are very talented PR/Marketing firms. The VA firm is led by the former Marketing Director of AOL and Mapquest.
  • We’re launching a global social media campaign pitch to one of the world’s most distinctive alcohol brands. We think we’ve got a great idea – and since we’re only one connection removed from the top – an outstanding chance.

Publishing

Jeffrey Kingman, CEO of Chalkboarder.com posts his first article on FohBoh Thursday as one of their ten featured front-page contributors. In it, he’ll explore what the social web could mean for suppliers and distributors in the hospitality industry and how that might increase operator sales volumes.

Additionally, Jeffrey was asked by the magazine Today’s Restaurant to contribute an article for their special May issue devoted entirely to emergent technology.

Stay tuned for information and a link to a webinar on social media that Jeffrey participated in last week.

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Noted Blogs

Paul Barron’s Social Coco ~ Idea Creation for your Restaurant

Progressive Dairyman ~ Seriously, It’s Time to Tweet

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Video Of The Week


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chalkARTblast is produced by Chalkboarder.com

Currently published Mondays. Future publishing will be daily.

Copyright Ó2009 Chalkboarder.com LLC

(503) 305-6397

info@chalkboarder.com

October 1, 2009

A Sea Bass Journey in Social Media

Cross-posted on FohBoh.

Could a Full-Line Distributor Use Social Media to Drive Restaurant Sales?

Chilean Sea Bass

Chilean Sea Bass

Imagine for a few moments a scenario that might happen in the next few months – the journey of a Chilean Sea Bass through social media. Before I get to that, I want to ask how full-line distributors, such as PFG, Sysco or US Foods might use social media.

We’ve been thinking about this here at Chalkboarder.com and have a 48 hour scenario for you – a quick social media news cycle that could generate four unique and compelling messages for a restaurant to share with its customers – that those customers might share with their friends – which could increase sales both short and long term for the operator.

As a former chef, I know that the major full-line distributors have great seafood programs. As an example, let’s visit PFG’s fish buyer on the dock in Chile, negotiating with the boat captain. As the buyer concludes the purchase he takes a quick one-minute video of the sea bass with his iPhone and adds a message about his excitement in securing this amazingly fresh catch for chefs back in the USA.

iPhone

iPhone

He sends that video message through social media (probably through Twitter and Facebook) to the entire PFG sales force in the USA. We could say that it’s sent at 8 am in the morning. By 9 am the entire sales force has seen the buyer’s video – and forwarded it to all their restaurant customers. “Hey, check out the awesome sea bass that will be available tomorrow! If you want some, let me know now.” Compelling content and call-to-action through social media.

A restaurant chef gets this message mid-day, watches the video, and picks up the phone or text messages the salesman: “I want some – get me 50 pounds”. As soon as the chef receives confirmation from the sales rep, he immediately sends the fish-buyers video to all the customers of the restaurant in social media: “Check out the amazing sea-bass we just bought off the boat. We’ll be serving it tomorrow! Call for reservations and let us know you want fresh sea-bass!” More compelling content and call-to-action.

Got the picture? Wait, there’s more.

Next morning, chef takes a quick video of him checking the sea bass in through the back door and sends that out to the restaurants customers “When you buy fresh fish, you want to see clear eyes and smell the sea. Our restaurant only buys the freshest fish we can. We’re serving this amazing sea bass just in from Chile tonight! Did you make a reservation to get some?” Another compelling message with a clear call to action just got out the door.

At 11 am, the restaurant owner takes a picture of the great Chardonnay that goes well with the sea bass – and there’s another compelling message with call to action: “Tonight we’re serving Caymus Chardonnay with the Sea Bass special Chef is cooking up. We’re still not sure what the recipe is, but boy is that fish fresh! Call us and let us know you’re coming.” How many customers have called for reservations?

Seabass

Seabass

At 4:30 pre-meal, Chef is explaining the specials to the wait staff. The grill cook takes a quick video with his iPhone of the finished and incredible-looking special, then of the wine and then of the waitress tasting the fish and melting “Oh my god!” He sends it to the restaurant owner who sends it to the restaurant customers again – with the message “Our wait staff is swooning over Chef’s Sea Bass special tonight – we still have some reservations open – come on in!” Get the picture?

Let’s take this sketch one more step. Late that night, the chef sends the pre-meal video back to the sales rep, saying “We brought in twenty more tables and sold out the fish in one night!” The sales rep forwards that video and message to not only his supervisors, but also back to the fish buyer, who then shares it with the boat captain. Talk about a connected community.

The fishing vessel acquires direct connection with consumers, the consumers get direct connection with the boat captain, the sales force is motivated and communicating, and the restaurant is sharing trust and making sales. Everyone is in transparent community. Messaging is immediate and contains actionable call-to-action.

We’d love to hear your ideas on how a full line distributor could employ social media. How can the distributor build trust, help operators be successful, create sustainable community and increase their own bottom line through social media?

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(503) 305-6397

info@chalkboarder.com

Chalkboarder.com is a digital management and social media service firm operating nationally. We provide social web solutions to organizations of all types.

September 19, 2009

ROI and Effective Best Practices in Social Media for Independent Restaurants

How can my restaurant effectively plan and execute a social media strategy that provides return on investment?

Discard using comment cards – social media is a much more powerful tool.

There’s a lot of discussion recently about the human resource cost of embracing social media in the restaurant industry. Some operators are denying that social media will impact their operations – they may not be seeing that now, but what about six months from now? Many operators are curious about what this paradigm shift in connecting with customers means to their business:

  • How should my restaurant use social media?
  • Can I just use it as a way to advertise?
  • What networks should I use for maximum impact?
  • Can I train one of my staff to do the work?
  • How can I afford to do social media?

These are just some of the questions being talked about this year whenever hospitality leaders congregate. Here’s my topic – what are the best practices in social media and how does an independent restaurant implement these into an effective process, fully integrated into the operation with minimal investment, that generates return.

First, let’s define return on investment. Social media is radically changing the organizational environment. By next year, more people will get their news from cell phones than any other media. By next year, more people will look for a restaurant to eat at through their cell phone – than through any other media. Restaurants have to get on those phones to not only survive, but prosper. This month, only 10% of restaurants in major metropolitan (US) areas are using social media. Only 6% of restaurants in those markets have established a Twitter presence.

Let’s talk a little more about return on investment. Let’s imagine a situation where in one week fifty people message their friends about eating at your place. They do this on Facebook, on Twitter, leaving comments on Yelp or Urban Spoon and perhaps on community networks like Ning.com. We’ll assume that they each send out one message – fifty total. Do you have time to sit down for an hour at the start or end of your day to look for these comments and messages? What if four of them had a bad experience? You know the saying – a great meal gets a few referrals, but a bad meal gets twenty down-shouts.

It used to be that a bad meal only affected the close network of the diner. Not anymore. Now, that bad meal could be (and likely is) tweeted to hundreds before the diner leaves the restaurant. Not only does this mean increased pressure to have great game from your staff so this doesn’t happen – it also means you have to know about it and be able to fix it – to engage immediately. You have to spot it, contact, listen, and react. You have to fix it that day.

Need more on return of investment? There are hundreds of food bloggers now. Anyone with a laptop or a cell phone (currently 95% of the adult US population) is a micro-food-blogger. There are more than fifty home-grown food-bloggers online and active in PortlandOregon today and you can bet the cow that they’re all following each other. What if that food-blogger is at table sixteen and having a great meal? They’re snapping a couple of pictures to put up later that night on a blog that will not only get read by a hundred or more in the next few days – but also by other influential food-bloggers with more stature. And let me share something – those food-bloggers on Twitter announce to the universe when they publish a new post (that might be talking about you).

What’s the return now? When both a bad and a good situation have hundreds of people reading about it today and tomorrow, what price are you willing to pay? Here’s a great article published this month by McKinsey Quarterly on the global benefits of using social media. How companies are benefiting from Web 2.0: McKinsey Global Survey Results

Social Media Best Practices for an Independent Restaurant

Let’s run a scenario by illustrating a restaurant operation (annual sales of $1-3 mil) utilizing social media best practices as defined by leading SM experts (links to best practices follow this article). Remember – social media is all about dialogue and engaging customers. It’s no different than visiting tables and deepening the connections.

Setup

  • Update and establish a consistent brand presence across the networks you choose to participate in (i.e.: Facebook, Twitter, Ning.com, FohBoh.com)
  • Update your webpage with cross links to social networks (make sure the links open on a separate webpage tab and use small SM logos)
  • Bring key staff together to participate (Chef, Sommelier, Bartender, FOH Manager)
  • Determine the minimum frequency on the various networks you will message through and commit to six months

Weekly

  • Plan your messaging for the week to allow time to create compelling content that followers want to share with their friends
  • Listen to the networks and what people are saying about you. Think before responding. Always respond positively.
  • Leading theorists on social media encourage involving your key staff through their personal accounts. Empower them to engage the dialogue from their personal accounts. Give them guidelines and a social media policy (part of your employee manual) so your expectations are clear.

Your Social Network Messages

  • Must be authentic. Today’s savvy customers see through hype and traditional marketing. They want to know who you are, why you are in the restaurant business, what your passions are and about your adventures, concerns and successes. They’re not merely looking for a good place to eat. They want to know what inspires you and your crew. If they like you, they are very willing to offer constructive suggestions, perhaps things you never thought of. How much value is that – your customers telling you what they need? Authenticity = Loyalty.
  • Use Images. A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that messages with compelling images received a 70% click through rate. We humans love eye-candy. Maybe it’s a picture of that outstanding rack of lamb, or your cute bartender (female or male) interacting with a customer – or, that loyal dishwasher that works harder than anyone else (and you introduce him/her to your followers with an intriguing story). Here’s an idea – a one to two minute gonzo journalist video interview (from your iPhone) with the chef on the line during service talking about tonight’s special. Compelling content = Viral distribution.
  • Pace your messaging. Different networks have different frequencies of appropriate distribution. Facebook and Ning.com are a one unique message per post environment. It is okay on Twitter to send the same message multiple times in a day; just don’t over-do it. Here at Chalkboarder.com we’ll send a unique message repeatedly on Twitter about once an hour during our workday. Appropriate frequency = Follower growth.
  • Then listen. This is the key part. Collect the responses from the Facebook-type networks, but reply that day. If a negative comes in, reply positively in private communication first if possible and give them thanks for caring enough to share. Listening = Customer service.
  • Respond. Always be positive in responding and get back to them as soon as possible.
    • Use negative messages as positive critique (more down below on that). Respond quickly to nip issue in bud before it gets re-broadcasted and so they will message again how quickly issue was resolved. If you do this publicly, others will see how authentic you are as an operator.
    • Thank positive messages and respond in a way that compels them to share more about their positive experience. If they are seeking to know you better – share away – it only deepens your relationship with a new core customer center of influence.

Create and Maintain an Active Blog

Only 2% of USA restaurants, maybe less, use blogging as a way to connect with customers. Blogs are a fantastic way to engage – they provide the escape from daily life that so many of our customers deal with. It’s best to post weekly or more, keep articles semi-short and use images.

It’s very easy to set up a blog – there are several free services out there like WordPress and Blogger. I like WordPress over Blogger because it provides an easy dashboard to analyze the metrics of who’s visiting and what they are reading. I also find it much more intuitive and simple to use. One beauty of these services is being able to generate articles in MS Word (as I am right now) and then email it to my blog. It posts with all the formatting and images I’ve put in using Word.

Make sure you tag your blogposts with appropriate tags. For this article I’ll tag with – social media, social networking, restaurant, twitter, facebook, blog, and etc. This allows people internet searching to find your article.

After you’ve posted – share the article on your social networks! Don’t be afraid to promote the blogposts for 24-48 hours once an hour on Twitter.

Summary

Social media for hospitality is replacing traditional marketing, advertising and customer engagement in a fundamental way. Instead of waiting on days and weeks for traditional marketing to take effect – social media offers operations a 24/7 communications cycle.

Instead of having the luxury of days to respond to issues, operators now have a huge opportunity to engage immediately and resolve/satisfy a disgruntled patron.

Planning and executing a successful social media campaign has to be incorporated into your business plan. Operational management has to embrace and lead the effort. Pull your top human assets into the execution. Be prepared for constant dialogue and use positive leadership.

The expense of social media really comes down to human resource management. Operators can design and implement effective programs themselves or they can outsource the tasks to a trusted and authentic agency. Either way, social media is here, the return on investment is significant and it can easily help grow your satisfied customer base.

For more information or dialogue, drop us a line. Chalkboarder.com can recommend a research list for social media best practices, advise operations on developing their programs or provide outsourced services.

Best Practice in Social Media Theorists

September 19, 2009

Hospitality Social Media… Is Word of Mouth

And Your Best Comment Card System

We all know that word of mouth is the best tool you have to increase your business. It is also the quickest way to have a bad incident shared with a lot of potential customers.

With social media becoming so prevalent in society, your customers are sharing word of mouth as their experience with you happens. They’re sharing with hundreds through cell phones that their meal sucked or that the seafood entrée/crème brulee/French onion soup was simply to die for.

If it’s a bad experience, you can bet they’re tweeting before they even leave your restaurant. If it’s a good experience, they’re sharing that news by the end of the day.

Word of mouth has always been the most effective method for gaining new customers. Today – it’s right now. Game on!

Sharing their dining experience from the taxi...

Sharing their dining experience from the taxi...

At some point, we’ve all used comment cards to assess our customers experiences. Often the feedback is minimal in quantity. With social media you have an instant opportunity to get that feedback.

How advantageous to you is knowing right now what guests, both satisfied and not, feel about your operation? How much value to you is there in being able to respond to both positive and negative experiences within 24 hours?

Here at Chalkboarder.com we’ve been assessing the challenges and opportunities that social media provide the hospitality industry. We’re not experts. We have conducted pretty deep research into the best practices that social media offers hospitality. Social media is a phenomenal tool for engaging your customers directly and quickly, building loyalty and a community that sustains your business through authenticity.

We’d love your feedback!

Jeffrey Kingman

Chalkboarder.com

Twitter = @JeffreyJKingman

September 15, 2009

Rock the Kasbah!

Yesterday, Chalkboarder.com negotiated with Club Kasbah – a virtual music venue and club in Second Life, to plan and execute social media and strategic brand development in building their business.

Second Life has been around since 1999 and lists economic activity of $35US million per month in transactions. Both global and smaller businesses, in addition to major universities (Univ. of Texas, for example) are using Second Life as a communications and connection platform.

We’re very excited to land this opportunity assisting a small family-run business with their virtual (and real) growth!