Posts Tagged ‘Flickr’

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5 Ways to Promote Your Restaurant on Pinterest

February 6, 2012

Proof that we are still a visual-based culture Pinterest has become the social media network to watch after growing more than 4,000 percent in the last six months (according to compete.com). At an average of 88.3 minutes per visitor, Pinterest currently ranks third on engagement behind Facebook and Tumblr and it ranks well ahead of LinkedIn (16 minutes) and Google Plus (5.1 minutes). Further proving that image based social networks and applications (like Foodspotting and Instagram) are rapidly gaining market share due to their high engagement levels with their audience.

From the Pinterest website:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Pinterest is a social network that also has a promotional value as well: Users share photos that they find online by “pinning” them, the equivalent of “liking” a status on Facebook or giving a +1 on Google +. That act in turn has the ability to create beneficial SEO and linking opportunities for individuals and brands alike.  

Users have to download a toolbar that can be used to pin items from any website. The photo and information then appears on your Pinterest board, and users who follow you can see your collection of photos and even “re-pin” them (like retweeting on Twitter or other forms of sharing).

This platform, while not specifically designed for marketing strategies may be a very effective social media platform for your restaurant or business when you take the following steps to market your restaurant.

1. Share your Menu, Photos, and Amenities

The most obvious way to use Pinterest for your restaurant is to pin photos of your own brand, logos, menus, staff, specials, venue, and amenities. Since you can create several boards, it is best to group your pins into different categories such as: Specials, Events, Food & Drink, Our Staff, Our location, and so on. By doing this, you are creating a rich story in images highlighting your food, brand, and service.

2. Add pins to the “gifts” section of Pinterest

When you create an entry for your pins, you can add a price tag. By selecting this option, you can then add a link, pointing back to your website. Items added in this way are automatically included in the “gifts” section on Pinterest, which is a virtual catalog of gift ideas. Be sure to select your best photos for pinning, and include a description. This gives you an opportunity to get your prices out there, and call attention to events like Wine Dinners or Gift Packages for certain holidays.

3. Show off your Event Spaces

By pinning photos of great events that are held in your event spaces, it allows people to get ideas and envision their own party in those spaces. This works great to promote seasonal spaces like patios, decks, and rooftop spaces as well.  Make sure you include any great photos of beautiful views from your venue as well.

4. Maximize the SEO benefits

When you pin your products, you have an opportunity to maximize your SEO strategy and drive traffic back to your website. You create high quality backlinks when you or other users link to your photos and pins. Using keywords when you write compelling descriptions will attract visitors and potentially compel them to visit your website. You can integrate your Pinterest account with your Twitter Account and Facebook Page and share your pins on these social networks. All of these efforts will help to drive more traffic to your site and to increase your organic search engine rankings.

5. Create and Pin content that people would want to view

Most of us can easily spot a corporate profile that is designed only to blast out marketing pitch after marketing pitch are likely not only to steer clear of your account, but to avoid and in extreme cases to bash your attempts. You can avoid many of those cases by creating interesting relevant content that provides an added value or is exclusive content to that audience (like posting recipes for some dishes for a fan to try at home or pinning specials only available to your Pinterest Audience).

Finally, just like any other social media platform, it has to be a two-way conversation.  Engage with your audience and listen and watch what they find most or least interesting in your brand. Pinterest is perfect for your brand if your brand can be displayed in images, and with the ease of digital photography these days, photos can be quickly taken, edited, posted and shared, creating great content for you to use to promote your Restaurant.

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Savvy hosts: Twin Cities restaurants embrace social media to boost loyalty – and sales

March 6, 2010

We were recently a part of a recent article by Julio Ojeda-Zapata in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about the restaurant scene in the Twin Cities.  It shows how well this market is really on the leading edge of social media and marketing for Hospitality related businesses.  Here is the start, then click the link for the full article:

A number of Twin Cities restaurants are embracing social media to increase loyalty — and sales — among fans.

Until last year, James Flinsch’s contributions at Pazzaluna were strictly IRL (that is,’in real life’ in cyberslang).

As wine steward at the popular downtown St. Paul Italian restaurant, he often rescues diners at a loss for a killer pairing. Hired as a waiter in 1999, Flinsch still whisks dishes onto tabletops with some regularity.

While on paternity leave with a lot of late-night hours on his hands, though, he glimpsed another, online role for himself at his beloved restaurant. He noted that the establishment’s management company had created a Facebook fan page

Until last year, James Flinsch’s contributions at Pazzaluna were strictly IRL (that is,’in real life’ in cyberslang).

As wine steward at the popular downtown St. Paul Italian restaurant, he often rescues diners at a loss for a killer pairing. Hired as a waiter in 1999, Flinsch still whisks dishes onto tabletops with some regularity.

While on paternity leave with a lot of late-night hours on his hands, though, he glimpsed another, online role for himself at his beloved restaurant. He noted that the establishment’s management company had created a Facebook fan page… Click Here to Read the Rest of the Article

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Using PR & Social Media to Promote Restaurants – A Case Study

January 18, 2010

At Sterling Cross Communications, we’re very proud to have been a recent case study focus by Meetings: Minnesota’s Hospitality Journal Magazine’s Winter 2010 Issue.  The Case Study covers the work we have been doing for our client moto-i, the first sake microbrewery outside of Kyoto, Japan, located in Uptown Minneapolis.   It goes into detail about the behind-the-scenes efforts that were put into place to promote this restaurant via social media channels as well as integrating media and blogger relations. Here is the article:

Sake & Social Media

Placing his trust in Sterling Cross Communications, restaurateur Blake Richardson turned to social media to market his latest venture, Moto-i sake microbrewery and restaurant.

By Ellie M. Bayrd

Nearly seven years ago, Blake Richardson, owner of the Herkimer Pub & Brewery in Minneapolis and the mind behind Triple Caff draft energy drink, fell in love with sake. Inspired by what he calls an “amazing beverage,” the beer brewer embraced the possibility of creating a sake microbrewery restaurant in Minneapolis. The labor of love took him to Japan several times, where he studied the art of sake. At the same time that Richardson was becoming enamored with the drink, he was also in a love affair with Asian cuisine like many other Americans. “The synergy between the two just came together at the right time,” he says.

The idea percolated and his studies progressed, and about two years before his restaurant idea would become a reality Richardson had a chance meeting with Chris Lower, director of marketing, public relations and social media at Sterling Cross Communications. A company touting its traditional storytelling in a modern world,Maple Grove-based Sterling Cross has embraced online marketing tools. While Richardson wasn’t really thinking about how he would market his new restaurant concept at the time, his conversation with Lower spurred him to action. “I don’t want to allude to that I wouldn’t have had a plan,” Richardson says. “But I came in contact with Sterling Cross long before that segment of my responsibilities to the marketing would have come along.”

 Click HERE to read the rest of the article

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Today’s marketing for Resorts & Campgrounds – Building Community, Memories, and Lifetime Visitors with Social Media Tools

May 26, 2009

This is an article I wrote for Resorts & Campgrounds Magazine and appears in their summer 2009 Issue. Due to popular demand, it was reprinted here for those who do not have access to the Magazine. Enjoy!

I grew up lucky enough to have had an annual family trip to some resort or campground every year.  If you are the same, you probably have some great old photos.  Some might be in albums, some might be framed, but most are probably in a box or bin somewhere, but wherever they are, they capture and represent great memories.  There are great tools online these days that allow you to post and share these photos and memories online. 80% of all internet users are posting photos to share online, and 54% of them are posting vacation photos, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project data. 30% of those vacationers are posting to sites and communities connected to the place they went on vacation, if there is a space to post.  Disney is great at this for their Camp Wilderness property.

You too can create a space where your visitors can share photos.  You can brand your own photo sharing page on many social media photo sharing sites like Flickr, ShutterFly, and Photobucket. These sites can be linked back in to your own website, where potential new visitors can share in the memories and see great pictures of people enjoying your services and amenities. Of the 140 million Americans online, 63% of them are booking their travel destinations online. 53% of them state that their decision to book is based on photos or videos of visitors enjoying the property and amenities.  Social media tools allow your guests to share their great times and memories and empower them to build community by connecting to other resort and campground visitors.  Other tools like blogs, YouTube, and pages on sites like Facebook allow people to connect and share as well. The common backdrop across all of these sites is your location.

Like any vacation destination in today’s times and economy you must adapt to keep up. In 2008 it was reported that up to 60% of campgrounds and 84% of RV Parks have added WIFI internet access to their list of amenities, whether in the common areas, or available throughout the property.  If you offer internet access on location, you can encourage guests to post up photos while still there and even offer prizes for photo contests, to build your online content.  All photos posted should be tagged (identified) to include your property name and location to aid in the online search benefits you will receive from posted photos.

More often than not, these social media tools are low to no cost to implement, and can be managed by staff onsite.  For best results, you’ll want to invest a bit to ensure that your brand is represented across each of these social media sites which can be handled typically by your web developers or marketing team. Here is a list of tools that any resort or campground owner or manager can use to connect with their customer to convert them to brand evangelists and lifelong customers:

 

Social Media Tools for Resorts & Campgrounds:

  • Make sure your property can be searched and reviewed through local business guides such as Yelp.com, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor.com. Suggest that positive feedback from patrons is shared on these social business guide sites.
  • Twitter – sign up for a Twitter account. Use it also as a tool to listen and converse with your customers.
  • E-Newsletter – Email a monthly newsletter with the latest happenings, new renovations, additions, or upgrades etc.
  • Blog – Customers want to be part of something more than just a onetime trip; they want to feel like they belong.  You can set up a blog to allow guests to post their memories and stories.
  • Facebook – Set up a Facebook fan page to connect with your customers on Facebook.
  • MySpace – If your clientele is the MySpace generation, create a profile page and consistently update it with fresh content.
  • YouTube – Incorporate video into your social media strategy.
  • The Business Card – Provide a business card or note-card to each customer that visits your property with their receipt that maps out where they can continue their vacation experience online by connecting to you via social media to share memories.

 Christopher Lower is the Co-owner of Sterling Cross Communications, a Social Media, Public Relations, & Web Design Firm, that focuses on the Restaurant, Hospitality, Hotel, and Lodging industries. In addition to over 20 years of PR & Marketing experience, Chris worked over eight years in the Hospitality Industry. He can be reached at www.sterlingcrossgroup.com or can be found on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mrchristopherl.

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Strategically Promoting Your Restaurant with Social Media Tools

March 24, 2009

This is an article I wrote for Restaurateur Magazine and appears in their April 2009 Issue. Due to popular demand, it was reprinted here for those who do not have access to the Magazine. Enjoy!

 

You work hard to get everything right, the food, the atmosphere, the service, the kitchen and back of the house staff, and once a guest comes through the door, you have the power to make sure they have the best possible experience. Then they go home.  A place you can’t control the experience – and you don’t know what they’ll tell their family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who will listen, about their experience. What if you could control it? What if you could extend the dining experience beyond the walls of your restaurant? With social media tools, you can.

 

You’ve heard the buzzwords: Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin, and YouTube.  These tools allow you to enhance and carry the dining experience beyond your front door. They allow your customers to take the physical connections and loyalty virtual to experience it online as well. With customers increasing their online activity, the online experience that guests have with you can make or break you.

 

You put thought, consideration and passion into every physical aspect of your guests’ interaction with you, but how is their experience with your website?  Does it convey your brand, atmosphere, and message? Is it easy to navigate? Are your menus and specials quickly found? Is your contact information, location, hours of operation and amenities crystal clear? These are just the bare minimum standards now needed to entice someone to interact with your online brand.

 

When they interact, they feel connected. When they feel connected, they’ll often be your evangelists and make a point to refer your establishment or brag about their incredible experience. They are inclined to take someone with them the next time they visit, and will want to connect your restaurant to others.

 

In the best of times, it’s hard to promote a restaurant.  With labor and food costs constantly battling to take the lead as your primary concern, you need systems and tools that can give you the greatest return on your investment of dollars and time. Social Media are emerging tools that fit that bill.

 

Social Media tools are increasingly moving from consumer to consumer tools to business to consumer vehicles.  6,000 people a day are signing up for Facebook and only a percentage of them are the college students that the platform initially attracted.  Many businesses are motivated by the opportunity to opt in at a fairly cost effective manner, and also the ability to bring them to an intimate space next to their customer. What you are seeing is a vast array of Social Media approaches that converse and connect. Once you realize who your customer is, what makes them tick, what they like and dislike, using social media can be that missing link that transforms a casual customer into a brand evangelist.

 

Using tools for the “cool” factor of saying you use them will not bring you a tangible return.  You’ll need to start with a strategy. Once you’ve determined who your customers are, you need to know which social media tools they use, and engage with them on their turf. The effectiveness of social media isn’t simply using the tool; it’s listening, answering questions and connecting with others. These tools are just opportunities to connect your customers to your brand and by connecting with them, they’ll help you build relationship and gain invaluable insight to their propensity to buy from you.

 

Here is a list of tools that any restaurant owner can use to connect with their customer to convert them to brand evangelists:

 

Social Media Tools for Restaurants

  • Make sure your restaurant can be searched and reviewed through local business guides such as Yelp.com, Urbanspoon.com, Getsatisfaction.com and TripAdvisor.com. Encourage your guests, that if they had a great experience to please post it to one of these sites.
  • Twitter – sign up for a Twitter account. Use it also as a tool to listen and converse with your customers.
  • E-Newsletter – Email a monthly newsletter with the latest happenings, new menu items, entertainment news, recipe of the month etc.
  • Blog – Customers want to be part of something more than just a meal; they want to feel like they belong. A blog can be that tool.
  • Facebook – Set up a Facebook fan page to connect with your customers on Facebook.
  • MySpace – If your clientele is the MySpace generation, create a profile page and consistently update it with fresh content.
  • YouTube – Incorporate video into your social media strategy.
  • The Business Card – Provide a business card or note-card to each customer that visits your establishment with their receipt that maps out where they can continue their dining experience online by connecting to you via social media.

 

Christopher Lower is the Co-owner of Sterling Cross Communications, a Social Media, Public Relations, & Web Design Firm, that focuses on the Restaurant, Hospitality, Hotel, and Lodging industries. In addition to over 20 years of PR & Marketing experience, Chris worked over 8 years in the Hospitality Industry. He can be reached at www.sterlingcrossgroup.com or can be found on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mrchristopherl.

 

Sterling Cross is a proud to have been selected as a preferred vendor for Hospitality Minnesota. Hospitality Minnesota is the management entity for
 

 

 

The Minnesota Restaurant Association, Minnesota Lodging Association and Minnesota Resort and the Campground Association. These Associations provide legislative and regulatory advocacy, marketing, education and information and money-saving programs to members. In addition, Hospitality Minnesota operates a non-profit education foundation, the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation, which provides a high school curriculum in foodservice and lodging management and provides scholarships to students pursuing higher education in the hospitality field. For more info: www.hospitalitymn.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skittles new website is NOT social media…or is it?

March 3, 2009

 

The new Skittles.com site

The new Skittles.com site

 

 

The M&M Mars colorful fruit candy chews have gotten a social media makeover to their website. It is drawing many oohs and aahs from the crowds that click over to this site to find a very slick transparent overlay with a navigation widget that is laid on top of their social media sites, including a www.summize.com  page keyword searching “skittles” (Seen in the photo).

 

You can also click over to the other platforms where they have accounts as well – Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook.  There is also a quick insert your age here survey (where they are apparently gathering demographic info).  It has gotten many of the so-called social media gurus all up in a tizzy though, as it is a very slick implementation of technology, without an apparent “social media strategy” attached to it.

So, what’s the deal?  Who’s right? Well, to be honest, it’s a lot of both.

Let’s talk about what they did right:

1.       The advertising & PR garnered from the word of mouth from incorporating their social media platform accounts is off the charts as far as ROI is concerned.  The cost of such a website as this, by rough estimates, could be pulled together for 5 to 30K (incredibly cheaper than the cost for the media buys they would have had to have done, and not gotten the benefit of so much traffic).

2.       The SEO benefit is again off the charts successful for the ROI and benefit.  The amount of mentions online they are receiving as well as the back-linking happening from those of us that are posting on blogs, writing stories, tweeting, etc. about their new site.

3.       Ability to track – not having access to their analytics, so not knowing for sure, but there is the potential for incredible results from tracking clicks. Even more potent than the collecting of age information (which I’ll get into later).

4.       Word of mouth and instigation of online conversations – the level of buzz generated, and word of mouth have quickly spread this virally to an internet sensation.  The opportunities to allow for their audience to discuss, socialize, and talk about their brand (glowingly or otherwise) is also incredibly done.

5.       Trusted in their brand enough to release control of it to the world.  It took guts, and I’m guessing some people are still sweating it to allow people to wreak havoc by saying whatever they want and attaching the word “skittles” to it (my personal favorite was one that said Skittles are actually unicorn poop!).  Watch for a potential removal of the overlay to the www.summize.com page with the live stream soon (my prediction).

Now here’s where they failed, or missed the mark:

1.       Failure to participate in the conversation.  Yes Skittles fostered conversation about their product and brand, but as many others have already pointed out, neither Skittles, nor M & M Mars is participating in the conversations on Twitter.  They do not own or manage the @skittles or @skittlescandy accounts.  When you are not participating in the conversation, you have zero chance to impact it.  What if the conversation is skewing negatively or there are legitimate complaints being made (and not just the graffiti-like profanity tweeted out just so they could see it on Summize)? You as the business have no control, say, or opportunity to provide customer service on these platforms.  Comcast with their @comcastcares account on Twitter, is an example of how to do this right.

2.       Capturing the wrong data.  It might be interesting to see what the age group of the people coming to the Skittles site is.  The problem is, that the visitor to the site does not necessarily equate to a consumer of the candy.  The data they have collected seems to be fairly diluted, especially with the amount of marketers and online gurus that have been checking it out, without ever intending to purchase the candy. 

3.       As a professional at a PR/Marketing agency that has worked with several candy clients, it has become crystal clear (to me), that candy is typically an impulse buy and not something that is purchased online, as there is a lag time for shipping, etc. Skittles would have been better served to offer a downloadable coupon for a free package of the candy redeemable from their local store, where the opportunity to purchase an additional bag or two, could occur. Personally, (and this is my big idea) I would have partnered with the braintrust that runs Twitter and came out with a collector’s edition package of Twittles! (I want credit for this, and a free case or two) there would be a run on the stores by the Twitterati.

4.       Trusting an Ad Agency/Web Design firm without actual experience in conducting social media campaigns with a social media campaign.  It is clear by the misses, that their firm (agency.com) came at this with the old-school traditional advertising mentality where this was a cool broadcast out to the world. The fact they failed to get the company to engage with their audience.  While it is always good to want to engage in social media, make sure you are dealing with someone that has already built and executed campaigns.  There are too many “social media experts” shilling themselves today, that are foisting about the buzzwords without any experience to back it up.

5.       Failure to monitor the conversations about their brand online. I don’t know this for sure, but I will deduce that if they aren’t interested in participating in the conversations, that they really aren’t interested in monitoring what is being said as well.  This also goes to managing your online reputation, where if you aren’t watching what people are saying, you have no true measure of your brand’s performance.  The conversations are happening, will you be a part of it?

So now I open it up to you.  What are your thoughts on Skittles new website?  Is it social media – or NOT? Comment away…

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