Jonny Hendriksen, CEO, Shuttlerock, a NZ based internet company which aims to help businesses and organisations in NZ and internationally to engage with customers and bring them and their friends back to their websites, encouraging them to engage, book now, view and refer their like-minded friends and contacts. With content marketing so essential in today's marketplace, this tool has been created with a mission to reduce the time and effort in keeping up with social networking sites and have your own customers promoting your business, increasing your online presence as well as your foot traffic.
Where do young cafe/restaurant businesses need help with talking to customers?
After opening a new café, operators are so busy working in the business and trying to get their name out there, they seldom come up for breath for at least three to four months.
So yes, talking and engaging with your initial customer base is vital.
Encouraging engagement of your customers and community to share their photos of their group or experiences, giving them reasons to return again and again or spend more is really important. But so is attracting new customers.
Do small restaurants, cafes have a better chance of talking directly to customers than big well established chains because of their hands on approach?
Yes, you do get to more easily connect with your customers if you are "hands on" on a day to day basis but well established chains tend to have greater resources and experience from trialling lots of initiatives. Having a platform like Shuttlerock allows venues of all sizes to still profile themselves really effectively.
What sort of social media do you recommend for fledgling food businesses?
The key we think is to create brand advocates. By this we mean those customers who are loyal fans of your staff, service and ambiance and can be termed "regulars". The smart play is to use social content and social media to develop more advocates then showcase or harness with social content, as we do through our Shuttlerock platform.
What sorts of results have you seen in businesses you have helped?
The Lonestar Group has discovered a huge amount of social content they didn't know existed and not only is this content being brought back to their website, but they are using the various board ideas on the Shuttlerock platform to instigate some new customer and foot traffic driving initiatives.
Blackcat Cruises have increased their online sales by 55 per cent since signing up with Shuttlerock some nine months ago. On top of that they have grown their brand awareness, increased their database of customers substantially, but also created a new phenomenon of engaged advocates, or brand ambassadors.
A lot of young restaurants/cafes have a good media attention in their first year and then it tapers off. What do you recommend they do to keep their profile up?
Here is a key point. Social content marketing is all about creating or developing a "movement" as opposed to a campaign-driven strategy. By this, it is essential that a new restaurant or café continues to increase its number of advocates and customer generated content to "feed" the movement.
This is an opportunity to more fully interact with your customers but by way of new media especially through your website. For example, a loyalty programme, a reward such as a weekly $50 voucher for uploading a photo of "you in our place".
Or you might lay on a feast for four people as the prize for monthly database push - you ask for regulars to upload a photo to enter the competition, then share with the friends or contacts getting them to vote for your entry. The winner is the photo with the most votes.
Or you could try to personalise things, a "Meet the Team / Behind the Scenes" kind of thing.
Hospitality business owners tend to be short on time. Should they outsource their social media side? Or involve staff?
Primarily as social media is engaging with your advocates and customers, you probably shouldn't outsource this space but this is where Shuttlerock provides the tools to help facilitate and make life easy.
Remember content is king, so gathering and sharing as much of it as possible will deliver customer engagement. For example, testimonials are great. We also suggest getting the staff to be active in driving internal content - after all they can be your best advocates or ambassadors.
Next week: Note that I'm writing this on the morning of race 12 and 13 of the America's Cup and we have just lost both of them but I am confident we will win the next race or the one after that so I am planning to look at the NZ marine industry next week and some of the small businesses who will benefit from our Americas Cup win. Tell us what your hopes are for new business after this victory and what it has done to the reputation of the marine industry here.