2010 is the year of social media, and the food service industry has really started to embrace the world of social in a big way. As I’ve mentioned on The Back Burner before, the biggest expense marketing with social media is your time. That’s good news for tight marketing budgets but bad news for restaurant managers and owners who are already overworked.
The time commitment is especially large at the beginning of a restaurant’s social media campaign, before a critical mass of followers has been built. Once the ball gets rolling, it can still be a big commitment to manage all of the different outlets – twitter, facebook, foursquare, etc. It’s often not long before you feel like you could do nothing else besides manage all those social media accounts and still not have enough time.
That’s why I was intrigued when I heard about Single Platform. It’s a social media marketing solution designed with restaurants in mind. As the name implies, Single Platform allows restaurateurs to manage different social media accounts and post information to those accounts in one place.
“Through SinglePlatform, you can enter one-time, recurring specials, events, game packages, tv schedule etc… and all of your profile pages are updated across facebook, twitter, myspace, citysearch, urbanspoon, foursquare, gowalla, their website and their mobiel site, as well as dozens of other review and social sites,” says Wiley Cerilli, Single Platform’s CEO.
Those features can free up a lot of time for busy restaurants who need to be focusing on the day-to-day operations of their business without losing the ability to penetrate the social media market with specials and events. Over 3,000 restaurants have signed up for Single Platform’s service, and the company is pushing their social media marketing message across the entire food service industry.
“Social media allows you to share which places you like in an incredibly viral way. 7 people liked comments on a bar of ours in the upper east side of NYC. Their opinions were shared with over 3,800 friends of theirs. There is nothing more powerful than that. Restaurants need to be able to have people “like” and follow them so their friends can see that as well,” says Cerilli.
For the skeptics who have not yet embraced the social media craze, finding a cold, hard number for the business actually generated through social media can be incredibly difficult. Single Platform does offer tracking that allows users to watch trends in fans and link clicks in social media posts, but identifying the customers in your restaurant who are there because of your efforts online can be extremely difficult.
That’s why more and more businesses are starting to view social media as less of a marketing tool to drive new business (although it is certainly capable of that) and more of a critical touchpoint in the life cycle of a customer’s engagement with your restaurant.
In other words, engaging customers online either before they eat in your establishment or after helps reinforce your brand and keeps your name in the conversation. There may be many factors besides social media that affect how a customer actually arrives at your door, but in the end you can’t afford to allow not hearing about you on the hottest sites on the internet like twitter and facebook to negatively affect that decision. Single Platform is indeed a good foundation from which you can start getting more involved in that conversation.