So, have you jumped on the Twitter bandwagon yet? Or are you sick and tired of hearing about tweets, tweeting, and all other variations of bird noises? Are you wondering what the heck I’m talking about?
For those of you who answered “yes” to the last question, you’ve got some catching up to do. Twitter is a “micro blog” tool that allows users to send short 140 character messages to a list of subscribers. Although the stated goal of the site is to give friends a way to update each other on what they’re doing, Twitter has quickly become much more than that.
Celebrities are using Twitter to gain large followings of loyal fans. There are massive lists of users who share information and news through links that spread quickly through the entire Twitter community. And, of course, marketers are using Twitter to reach customers.
In the food service industry, the Kogi Taco Truck in Los Angeles pioneered Twitter marketing by using tweets to broadcast their stops around the city and build buzz. The meteoric success of Kogi has everyone in the restaurant industry trying to figure out how to use Twitter to their own advantage.
And judging from recent news stories coming out of places like Kansas City and Boston, Twitter is turning out to be a very effective marketing tool for restaurants. Chefs are using the site to engage customers by giving out recipes and asking for feedback on new dishes and ingredients. Other restaurants are advertising meal specials and events to draw in loyal customers are specific days. And one restaurant in Boston even started tweeting months before the doors opened for the first time. Potential customers followed the new restaurant’s progression and the result was a packed opening night.
If you do decide to use Twitter, here are some best practices that will help you succeed and get the most out of your efforts:
Post regularly. Some Twitter users send out several tweets every day. You probably don’t want to annoy your customers with a lot of updates, especially at first. But you should definitely choose a schedule and stick with it. That way your followers know when to expect an update and (hopefully) they look forward to your next one.
Be creative. 140 characters doesn’t give you a lot of space. It also doesn’t give you a lot of time to catch someone’s attention. Boring tweets will get deleted, guaranteed. Straight-up sales pitches will also be ignored, trust me. Instead, use colorful, creative language to engage your subscribers and draw them in.
Do more than just sell. Yes, the ultimate goal here is to get people through the door of your business. But if all you do is sell, sell, sell, you’ll start seeing unsubscribe notices pouring in. Throw your customers a few juicy bones before you set the hook. Give out a few recipes. Tell a story about the behind-the-scenes action. Ask for opinions on a new dish. Get them looking forward to your next tweet. Then hit ‘em with a dinner special.
Customize offers. Want to know how much all your hard work is paying off? Offer a special meal deal to your Twitter subscribers only. Give out a special code that allows them to redeem the deal. Every time a customer uses the code, you know they are there because of your Twitter efforts. This strategy has the added benefit of making your twitter followers feel special because they are the only ones getting a special deal.
As I concluded in a post about the benefits of Facebook to restaurants a while back, Twitter can’t hurt your restaurant. And chances are good new social media like Twitter and Facebook will help you connect with your customers and encourage them to come in and eat. The best part is, using these services only requires your time. You don’t have to develop some big marketing budget and fret over the return on investment. Not counting your time, it’s free!