Tag Archives: apps

How Restaurants are Incorporating Social Media—Part 2

On Tuesday April 24, we broke down the latest on restaurants using social media and some information on using Pinterest.  The other heavy hitters in the social media game are Facebook and Twitter.

It may seem like there is a lot involved with keeping up with social media—but it’s really not as time consuming as you think, especially when there are websites available such as HootSuite or Later Bro.  Sites like these enable you to post in advance, because let’s face it, during any meal time rush, the last thing you have time for is to post.

Here’s a breakdown and the latest on Facebook and Twitter as well as a few ideas to help you rejuvenate your pages.

Facebook

On March 30, all Facebook fan pages got a facelift as they were automatically switched over to the new Timeline.  Some hate the new Timeline while others love it–but if you want to be on Facebook then you’re stuck with it. Don’t look at it that way though; the new Timeline feature actually brought on a few new really neat features that help to humanize your business. After all, your restaurant is more than words typed on a screen.

1. Cover Photo

The cover photo is at the top of your page and it’s a way to display what your business is about and grab attention.  Facebook did set a few rules on cover photos such as no calls to action, purchase information, contact information or references to interface elements (i.e. “Likes Us”).  So if you use one of these no-nos in your current cover photo, you may want to get it updated.  View the rules and cover photo tips here.

2. Contact/About Information

While you can’t outright promote in your cover photo, your contact and “About Us” area is where you can promote your business in your account settings.  There are actually a few different sections you can fill out—so write whatever works best to describe your restaurant.  The more information the better, so be sure to put in your address, website, phone number(s), hours of operation and anything else available.

3.  Apps

New word and new page placement, but same concept.  What are we talking about? Apps. Remember how you had “tabs” on your old Facebook page that were on the left side? For instance check-in, Like Us, maps, notes or a link to your blog? Those are now called “Apps” and they are located at the top of your page instead of at left. Four apps appear and you can add more (up to 12) in a drop-down. Just be sure the top four are your most important.

4. Top Pin

If there is something you want to be sure people see, such as a menu special or event, there’s an option now to make it a “top pinned post,” and it will stay at the top of your page. Do keep in mind, if you mark something as a top pinned post and it’s time sensitive, set a reminder for yourself to change it or un-mark it. According to a SmartBlog on Social Media article, top pinned posts can stay up for a week.

5. Pictures, Timeline and More New Features

It’s called the Facebook “Timeline” because it now allows you to tell the story of your business.   Things you posted in the past are easier for viewers to find and you can add milestones in your restaurant’s history such as when you first opened or a huge memorable event. It’s whatever you want to portray.

With the new Facebook Timeline, there is more of an emphasis of pictures–so if you can post some, whether it’s in a status or an album, do so!  And they don’t have to be anything epic.  Let’s say you’re having a special on one of your sandwiches. Instead of just posting a status update about the sandwich, why not include a picture with it?

Twitter

While Facebook and Twitter are both social media sites with a concentration being on words, they are completely different and should be treated that way.  You get 140 characters.  That’s it.  But it’s really not that much of a challenge.  In a recent Sociable360 infographic, they describe Twitter being best for “short, to-the point updates; monitoring conversations about your brand and finding potential customers.”

We live in a world where people’s attention spans are low. If you don’t capture someone’s attention in the first sentence of anything, they move on. So with Twitter, they make you get straight to the point. Here are a few quick tips on making the most of your restaurant’s Twitter:

  • Make your tweets different than your Facebook posts so your audience has fresh content on both platforms.
  • If do have to have Twitter linked to Facebook, or vice versa, try to make the Facebook status 140 characters or less. It’s obvious to people when a tweet is just an actual Facebook post because it cuts off.
  • Only use Twitter terminology (hashtags, @ symbol) on Twitter and not on Facebook.
  • Post specials or tips to get people to come in! Restaurants are really the exception to the “don’t be over salesy” rule for businesses on social media. It’s okay to post “Two tacos for $1 until 6 p.m. today!” or “Doesn’t a personal pan pizza sound like the perfect lunch?”
  • Use hashtags to your benefit. The hashtag (#) marks an important keyword in a post. It spreads your posts out further, just beyond your own followers.
  • Use trending topics to your benefit.  If there is a way to incorporate a trending topic into a post, do it! Don’t add it in if it’s irrelevant though—only if it fits with what you’re saying.
  • Tweet back. Engage with your followers that are trying to interact with you. And interact with people you follow.
  • You can post pictures and video by using sites like TwitPic or yfrog.
  • Don’t spend too much time trying to compose “the perfect Tweet” because it’ll already be old news within five or 10 minutes.  Don’t waste time, just post.

 

2011 Foodservice Trends and 2012 Predictions

Last December, we searched all over and compiled a list of 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  Overall, all 10 items on our list have been successful as far as the predictions go.  Take a look at the list for a quick refresher, then read below about some of the major trends that have now become mainstream.

Food Trucks

It’s been incredible to see how the food truck has evolved this year.  They’ve gone from something people were skeptical about to full-blown restaurants on wheels, serving everything from comfort foods and pizza to ethnic cuisine and desserts.

According to the Mashable infographic, “The Rise of the Social Food Truck,” almost 2.5 billion people eat street food.  Food trucks heavily rely on social media, which for most is their No. 1 way to advertise.  They just send out a tweet and Facebook status about where they will be and when.  This gives customers the convenience of different options close to them.

What is even more fascinating is how many food trucks team up together, park near each other or event go to events together.  Whether you love the food or own a truck , check out the Mobile Cuisine website for some great information on the industry.

Social Media/Mobile Ordering and Apps

While many restaurants have probably been using social media for quite some time, it seems as though this year its fully come mainstream.  In Nation Restaurant News’ webinar “The State of Social Media for Restaurants,” panelist Paul Barron (founder of DigitalCoCo) said in his presentation,

“87 percent of restaurant brands have identified social media as a main force for guest connection.”

After all, according to this New York Times article, social media is the most popular way Americans spend time online.

When looking into mobile ordering and apps, restaurants are implementing tablets (i.e. the iPad) in restaurants more and more to increase customer service and productivity (note—these aren’t replacing the wait staff).

At this year’s MUFSO conference (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operator), during New York Times’ Technology Columnist David Pogue’s session, he stressed the importance of restaurants not only using social media but to start looking into smart-phone apps too.  We’ve seen restaurants bring in the tablet, but having an app could be another solution to increasing productivity.  Pogue did take into consideration restaurant’s fears of using social media. His response was,

“But if you use it right, there are some incredible things you can do.”

Better Nutrition and Local/Hyper-Local

This year we’ve seen huge changes with restaurants becoming healthier.

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

Restaurants like McDonald’s and Arby’s have changed out fries with apple slices in their kid’s meals, Darden Restaurants recently announced their goal to lower sodium and calorie counts must be posted in certain areas–just to name a few.

The food pyramid got a fresh look this year too, as the USDA released “MyPlate” which replaced the food pyramid.

Schools are definitely headed in a healthier direction with updated nutritional standards.  The School Nutrition Association (SNA) gave the following statistics in this press release from their State of School Nutrition:

  • 98% of American school districts offer fresh fruit and vegetables
  • 97% have expanded the access of whole grains
  • 89% offer salad bars or pre-packaged salads
  • 98% have fat-free or 1% milk

Schools have also added many programs that work to bring in local foods.  When it comes to local in general, people and restaurants are pushing more support for local farmers.  Many restaurants are even taking local a step further and going hyper-local by growing their own food.

What’s In Store for 2012?

Image by Gregory Dicum on the NY Times website

While predictions for 2012 foodservice trends are just now beginning to surface, there are a few to start watching.  We may start to see more artisan and comfort foods on menus and maybe even celebrity food growers (which take it a step ahead of celebrity restaurants).

A trend that we’re already starting to notice is the “all-day” menu at restaurants that meet the demand for food at all hours of the day and night.  Also, pop-up restaurants may also be on the rise.  They are already starting to appear more and more, such as “Goodness,” a fashion week pop-up that provided healthy menu options.

We’ll continue to follow these and will provide our Top 10 Foodservice Trends for 2012 at the end of December. Let us know, what are you seeing? What’s been your favorite trend of 2011?

Central’s Week in Brief: September 30

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

1.) Usually when you go to a baseball game, common beverage options are water, soda and beer. Well, it looks like there’s another beverage that’s become quite popular at ballparks–wine! Andrew Shipe of Aramark told the Houston Chronicle, “Five years ago, wine was mostly limited to the premium seats.  But these days, it’s more likely to be on the main concourse.” Read the full story here.

2.) When it comes to advertising, sometimes looking into your company’s archives may hold the key to success, or at least is a good shot! Wendy’s latest marketing campaign answers the 1984 question, “Where’s the beef?” by simply, well, answering it!  “Here it is!” they say.  To address it, Wendy’s has thrown in snippets of the now decades old commercial into new commercials for their line of “Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Cheeseburgers.” Check out more information on the New York Times website.

3.) In the last few weeks, a listeria outbreak from cantaloupe has claimed at least 13 lives and has infected over 70 people, according to statistics from the Center for Disease control.  Then just this week, Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. has recalled 131,000 pounds of ground beef under the suspicion it may be contaminated with E. Coli.  An ABC news article reported that so far, no one has reported being ill from the beef  and the recall was voluntary.  With two major recalls, now is a good time to review standards and procedures at your restaurant. Click here to view ABC’s article, which includes tips.

4.) Is your restaurant using social media or mobile apps? At this year’s MUFSO (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operator) conference, which was held September 25-27, NY Times Columnist David Pogue stressed the importance of using these methods of communication.  He noted many restaurants are leery of social media and apps but, “if you use it right, there are some incredible things you can do.” Read the full story here from Nation’s Restaurant News.

5.) Exciting news from Central! We’ve recently rolled out our Monthly Customer Newsletter which includes the latest from our blog, foodservice news, tips, questions, a Twitter topics and more. This month’s @CRPRestaurant Twitter topic is “What is/was your favorite school food and why?” Answer it on Twitter by using the hashtag: #crplunchfaves.  Then enter in #crplunchfaves in Twitter’s search tool to see what others are saying.  Feel free to get creative and dig deep to remember some of the neat things you ate as a kid!  Also, be sure to check out the newsletter here!

 

Latest Technology for Restaurants

Technology is constantly evolving and there is always something new. Here is some of the latest technology available that all kinds of foodservice establishments can take advantage of.

Mobile Apps

A majority of people have a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) and with the popularity of these phones, there is practically a mobile app for everything.  A recent article by Nation’s Restaurant News said several restaurant chains such as Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Culver’s have apps for smartphones and many other chains have a mobile app in the works.  Mobile apps help customers spend money and also provide a convenient way to obtain information. Snapfinger is one of the places to sign up for an app for your restaurant.

Social Media

The number of Facebook users varies per source, but at least 500 million people use it. Social media is much more than posting what is going on that day.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter are a very powerful tools to increase sales.

Using Facebook’s “like” button has proved to have increased sales for many restaurants and others use their Facebook page for online ordering. Twitter provides real-time posts and while you are limited to 140 characters, they can be a very powerful 140 characters. By using either or both of these sites, you can promote your business and connect with customers.

A recent article from FT.com has this quote from Facebook Creator, Mark Zuckerberg, that expresses the importance of social media: “If you look five years out, every industry is going to be rethought in a social way. You can remake whole industries. That’s the big thing.”

QR Codes

This QR code was generated in 10 seconds and leads to the Central website

QR Codes are everywhere. But what are these odd barcode like boxes? Convenient! With a click of a button, information goes straight to a phone.

The Qurify website defines QR codes as “two dimensional barcodes that are easily scanned using any modern mobile device. This code will then be converted (called “dequirified”) into a piece of (interactive) text and/or link.”

To break this definition down, anyone with a modern phone simply needs a QR code reader app for their phone, such as the Kaywa Reader. Then, whenever a person sees a QR code, they take a picture of it and it takes them straight to a link. This makes things incredibly simple. So you’re wondering how to make your own QR code? It’s just as simple as retrieving one. There are a variety of QR code generators out there. Putting in “QR code generator” in a Google search will provide you with many sites, qrcode.kaywa.com being one of the main ones. Use a QR code to link customers to an important part of your establishment, such as a information about a particular product or a promotion.

Electronic Menus

Technology + Menus = Electronic Menus. While this technology is still in its early stages, it’s a neat feature to keep in mind for the future. A restaurant in Tokyo is using the Graffiti Bar. An article by The Independent (United Kingdom) says this interactive menu bar allows guests to look through menus, interact with waiters, play games and create graffiti. Another article from Digital Signage Today revealed KFC in the U.K. is testing out electronic menus.