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For All The Hype, Are Restaurants Really Using Social Media?



For All The Hype, Are Restaurants Really Using Social Media?For all the buzz around using social media like Twitter and Facebook as marketing tools for restaurants, a recent study by Chalkboard.com indicates the majority of restaurants aren’t catching on.  Establishments in three major urban centers, New York, San Francisco, and Portland, OR were surveyed about their internet and social media marketing strategies.

The results are interesting, and definitely surprising.  Some highlights:

While about 80% of restaurants in New York and Portland have a website, only about 50% of restaurants in San Francisco do.  This is especially surprising when you consider the fact that San Francisco is home to Silicon Valley, the cradle of the internet.  I wonder if the dominance of Yelp, which calls San Francisco home, has preempted restaurants from developing their own website.  Yelp is used in San Francisco more than any other city.

Under 10% of restaurants in any of these three cities uses Facebook or Twitter.  The vast majority of restaurants in three of the most tech-savvy cities in the country aren’t using social media to market to customers, despite the mountains of press about the benefits of doing so.  I can only imagine what the percentages of social media marketing restaurants are in other areas of the country.

So what is the disconnect between people who write about the food service industry (including me) and the people who actually work in the food service industry?  Are restaurants unaware of the benefits of social media marketing?  Unwilling to invest in social media marketing?  Unconvinced of the benefits of social media marketing?

As I have said previously on this blog, the beauty of social media marketing is the only it costs you is time.  Granted, as a busy restaurateur, time is also a very precious commodity.  But when you think about the very real dollars you must spend to advertise in traditional channels like radio, print, etc., and when you take into account how easy it is to measure the success of a social media campaign, the reasons for not utilizing social media become few indeed.

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