Technology has empowered us with the ability to broadcast ourselves far and wide. We can be like Ashton Kutcher and collect a fanbase on Twitter, we can be like Peter Bratt’s film La Mission that has an active fan page announcing the next screening, or we can be the next Tom Colicchio and judge our local restaurants and name our own Top Chef.
I love the variety of voices and personalities I can discover through social media. Most are very positive, constructive and, well, social. But it really irks me when social media is used to be anti-social.
Case in point – I was sitting in a restaurant last week where a lone waitress was managing our section and doubling as the sole bartender. A rush of people came in and suddenly she was completely overwhelmed, scurrying at full speed to accommodate the thirsty and hungry diners. Consequently, we all had to be a bit patient – but it certainly wasn’t her fault as she was clearly doing her best.
Then, in comes a machismo guy towing along his partner. He plops down in a seat and announces he wants some drinks. The waitress sprints to the bar to fulfill his request and queues up his order after the others that are waiting. Another waiter pops by and offers menus. Dude guy refuses. Then dude guy gets frustrated waiting for 5 minutes and makes a scene. “Forget about my order!,” he barks. The waitress flushes with embarrassment and apologizes sincerely for the delay. He pushes away from the table, grabs the girlfriend, and storms out. With his back to the restaurant, he loudly declares “That’s what Yelp is for.”
This really peeved me. Is this guy such a techno-bully that he has to resort to social sites to air his grievances when they could surely have been immediately addressed in person?
I agree there are times when establishments deserve public criticism by the community at large (hello, BP). But I do hope the behavior I witnessed in the restaurant is something that won’t give a voice to those who only know how to yell.
Last night we went to the opening of Brick & Bottle in Corte Madera. The restaurant employed various means to let the public know when their doors would open, including old school measures like hanging a banner outside of the premises with a countdown to the opening day, as well as new school tactics like a Facebook fan page, Twitter account from the owner/chef @chefscotthoward and email blasts from lifestyle/fashion mavens such as Thrillist. The restaurant was completely packed, with a constant stream of locals, VIPs and foodies curious to see, taste and explore the new Marin hot spot.
In addition to social media controlled by the restaurant, they’ve also benefitted by the public voice, courtesy of services such as DeHood, Yelp, Foursquare, and others.
It was also gratifying to see the chef personally meet and greet customers while keeping an eye over the open kitchen. While technology-enabled social media tools are helping businesses take control of their brand on connected devices, it’s important to deliver on the “last mile” which is extending the care and attention allocated on your online social media to simply being social… in person.
Here are 12 reasons compiled by MyVenturePad to use social media:
1. Own your brand’s social presence: If you don’t create official channels online, it’s only a matter of time before your fans do it for you and create their own profiles and communities around your brand. It’s important to claim your brand name across all the major social media platforms. Here are two sites that will help you do this:
2. Look like you “get it”: Your target audience is becoming more shrewd about leveraging social media sites as an integral part of their daily lives. If you want to appear relevant and in-step with the latest advances in technology, your potential customers will want to see you on these sites as well. If you don’t have a presence, you appear as if you’re not very savvy.
3. Brand recognition: You need to go where your customers are, and they are increasingly spending a great deal of time on social networking sites. Using social media enables your company to reach a huge number of potential customers. Getting your name out there is incredibly important — studies suggest that people need to hear a company’s name at least seven times before they trust and respect it enough to become a customer.
4. Take your message directly to consumers: Social media tools enable you to directly engage consumers in conversation. Be sure to build trust by adding value to the community consistently over time.
5. Increase your search engine rankings: Social media profiles (especially those on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) frequently rank highly with major search engines. Creating keyword-rich profiles around your brand name can help generate traffic for your both your social-networking sites and your company’s Web site.
6. SEO benefits: Many social media bookmarking sites use NOFOLLOW tags that limit the outbound link value of posts made on their sites, but there are still many leading sites that allow DOFOLLOW tags — including Friendfeed, Digg, and Mixx. You can also benefit from posting to bookmarking sites that use NOFOLLOW tags if people read your posts and link back to your Web site.
7. Social media content is now integrated with search results: Search engines like Google and Bing are increasingly indexing and ranking posts and other information from social networks. Videos from popular sites like YouTube can also be optimized for indexing by the major search engines.
8. Brand monitoring: Having a social media presence gives you a better understanding of what current and potential customers are saying about your products and services. If you actively monitor social conversations, you have the opportunity to correct false or inaccurate information about your brand and address negative comments before they take on a life of their own.
9. Generate site traffic: You can create additional traffic if you regularly post updates on social networks that link back to your Web site. Social media bookmarking tools like Digg, Reddit, and Stumbleupon can also generate additional traffic to your site if you create frequent articles and blog posts.
10. Find new customers through your friends: You shouldn’t neglect your personal social media accounts as potential avenues to promote the activities of your business. Posting regular updates relating to your business and activities can remind your friends about what your company does and influence them to use your services or make referrals.
11. Find new customers through your company profile: Your company profile is a great opportunity for you to post regular updates on your activities and about important news and trends in your industry. This will attract the attention of new customers interested in your industry and increase your reputation as an expert in your field. It’s important to post regularly if you want to increase your followers or fans and convert them to potential leads.
12. Niche marketing: Social media enables you to reach very specific subsets of people based on their personal preferences and interests. You can create unique social media profiles to target these audiences or create strategies based on addressing individual interests.