Social media update - what's trending and what's emerging
In our Expert Opinion report on Marketing Your Business With Social Media, you can find an at-a-glance overview of popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and how these can be used to promote your pizza business.
As social media continues to evolve, new platforms are emerging all the time — since our last article was written, Instagram has taken off as a popular way of promoting menu items to hungry diners. This update gives a rundown of some recent innovations in the way social media can be used to publicise your pizza offerings to potential customers.
USING INSTAGRAM TO PROMOTE YOUR PIZZAS
When Instagram was launched it was simply a tool to upload photos to the internet and display them in an online photo album format. The attraction of the app lay in its ease of use — making it simple for people to take a photo on their smartphone and upload it to Instagram in just a few steps.
The public’s passion for taking selfies and uploading them is well known, but almost as popular are photos of meals served when dining out. So it was only a matter of time before clever foodservice professionals started working out how they could use Instagram to promote their meals to the public.
The limited format of Instagram — basically photos with captions — initially presents a challenge, but here are some ways the smart operators have come up with to extend its potential:
- Use an extended caption under your food photography.
The first comment section under the photograph is typically where people place a caption, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are limited to a simple description of the pizza you’ve just posted a photo of. Instead, you can use the caption space to write some promotional copy which not only tells users what they’re looking at, but where they can get it, how much it costs, whether it’s a limited special they should hurry in to buy, and any incentive offer which might encourage them. You can offer a discount code for them to quote and include this in the caption along with a hyperlink to your website or Facebook page for them to obtain more information, or a link to download your full menu.
- Instead of just posting a photo, put some words over it.
Social media research suggests that by adding words to your photo you will reach more people than just an image on its own. At the very least you can consider add your business name and contact information. But a more effective communication tool might be to come up with a clever comment, joke or play on words which complements the pizza in the photo. Appealing to people’s sense of humour is often a great way to get noticed.
- Make use of hashtags.
The humble hashtag (#, followed by a word or phrase) helps get your Instagram photos, Twitter feeds and Facebook posts seen by a bigger audience. The best place to put some of these is in the second comment section under your photo (the first comment is where you put your extended photo caption, as explained previously). You can put in as many hashtags as you like, but make sure they are relevant to the photo you’re posting or your menu offerings. You can find out what the top ten trending hashtags are by checking on Twitter, but if you want more detailed information you’ll need to invest in a third party application.
- Direct users to a data capture mechanism via your bio link
On Instagram you have a bio section where you can add basic information about who you are/your business. Make sure that somewhere in this description you include a link for users to click on, which takes them to your website where they can click to signup for more information, or Twitter feed where they can follow you. The aim is to capture some data on the people who are looking at your food photographs — for example an email address or Twitter account name. This allows you to build up a contact list of potential customers to whom you can send marketing material.
NEW FACEBOOK VIDEOS
Many foodservice establishments have a Facebook page which features photos of their meals, details of specials and the opportunity to interact with and respond to customer comments.
Facebook is a great way of communicating with your customers using a medium they’re familiar with and use on a regular basis, but as the platform has evolved Facebook has limited your free access to your potential audience. Your Facebook posts now reach a smaller percentage of people than in the past, unless you’re prepared to pay.
One recent innovation which is beneficial is the use of Facebook video content. In the past, most businesses using videos would upload them to Youtube, then simply post the link on their Facebook page. But it’s now possible to upload your video content directly to Facebook and this is a better choice, as Facebook will promote its own content on its newsfeeds in preference to content from other platforms (such as Youtube). So by uploading your video content directly to Facebook, there’s a better chance of it being seen by more Facebook users than if you’re using a Youtube link. Of course you can always upload it to Youtube as well — just don’t use that link to promote it on Facebook!
Current technology makes it easier than ever before to make a video of your pizza restaurant, menu items and yourself telling potential customers why they should give your food a try! Keep your videos short and easy to digest — one or two minutes at the most: think bite-sized chunks of information!
While on the subject of Facebook, don’t get too hung up about the number of ‘likes’ any of your posts or food photographs get — in any of these social media platforms, there’s so much information the public is being bombarded with that people are becoming increasingly choosy about what they respond to and why. Remember that simply having the content online and available for people to see is the important thing — increasing your visibility and potential reach, even incrementally, is bound to be good for business.
SCHEDULE YOUR TWEETS
The great benefit of Twitter is that it operates in real time — think of it as the modern equivalent of an old-fashioned news wire feed. Twitter keeps its users up to date with the latest information as and when it happens. The flipside of this is that information becomes ‘old’ very fast.
Your best use of Twitter, therefore, lies in its potential to promote your current special deals, extended opening hours, events and other attractions as they’re happening. Use it to tell potential customers a special deal is on right now and that can encourage more people through your doors.
Therefore, you want to make sure that your tweets (Twitter communications) are up to date and going out at the right time — which can be difficult if you’re busy with other restaurant or cooking duties. However, you can make use of various third party apps to write tweets in advance and schedule them to ‘go live’ when you want them. Check out www.meetedgar.com as one example — this handy app will allow you to schedule in advance across multiple platforms (not just Twitter but Facebook and others).