Over the years, social media has overcome as the largest marketplace for the restaurant industry. Restaurant brands today are more convenient advertising themselves through social connect as they can connect to larger masses on this ground.
Social media guide the restaurateurs in defining their social media goals and working out a strategy that would work best for their set up. But what seems difficult for the restaurateurs is managing consumers on the social platform.
“Being a restaurateur, we need to accept all kind of feedback and reply to it timely. It’s the part of the ecosystem. We can’t get applauds all the time. Our first and basic mantra is to answer it and not to react but proact. Social media is something you cannot ignore”, says, Rahul Singh, Owner, The Beer Cafe.
According to The National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, almost one-third of consumers were prepared to follow a restaurant on social media if special offers were available. The study also found that social media environment has become cluttered with too many different platforms and restaurant owners’ efforts were frustrated by limited resources and understanding of how to approach social media for their businesses.
Experts in the sector believe that, there are about 244 million people who are online customers and India is the 2nd largest internet user country. The research also shows that 75 percent of the internet users are below 35 years of age and 86 percent of people spend time on social media
Shuchir Suri, whose three passions include Food, People and Technology, exactly in the order, believes that brands could actually leverage on negative reviews by handling them well and creating goodwill amongst the readers. “If a restaurant gets negative feedback again and again, there is something wrong with the product”, he emphasised. Adding on to the techniques to adapt for online posts, he said, “When you share a post and a photograph on Friday, there are 60 percent chances that you get more likes than on a Monday. For instagram, if you have a post with more than 250 words, 180 percent chance that you’ll get more likes.” He also suggested that user generated content is better than restaurateurs creating them and one must leverage on that as it is free of cost.
Many a times people share negative reviews to get free meals and it becomes very difficult to manage it experts believes. However, one has to address it. Like at Impresario Entertainment owned by Riyaaz Amlani, they have a policy where within 24 hrs, they respond to every single comment that is made online. And they take negative reviews to understand what went wrong with the customer’s experience.”
On responding to who should reply to the online feedback, Shobita Kadan, President, Marketing, Impresario, says, “that this business of being personal with the customer should be taken online as well. My team who sits at the outlet knows more and we authorise them to reply to that feedback. The relationship here becomes direct and we get a lot of useful information as well.”
Saurabh Sengupta, Country Head, Zomato India who himself has built the sales team in various cities and made Zomato one of the leading influencers in the industry comment by adding that, “We work on the technical angle to handle consumer feedback to track down fake and the genuine profiles. We took inspiration from twitter which brought this beautiful concept of followers. If you do not write interesting stuff, you will not have followers. And that’s what you can’t buy. You can’t buy social reputation.”
Commenting on tracking ROI through Social media, Saurabh said we need to focus on the social ROI here. “We need to keep a track of whether the consumer has tagged us somewhere, clicked a picture through instagram for building him as promoters out there”.
Hence, Social Media cannot give you a tangible return. It is for creating a personal connect. You might have thousands of likes on your page but it does not mean you will have thousands entering your restaurant on a day to day basis. Social media is a way to communicate and when you will sound like a sales person on it, no one will like it, believes experts.