How to take advantage of Twitter’s impact on restaurant culture


By Jordan Knox
July 5, 2011

The evolution of the Internet, cell phones and e-mail have meant huge changes for the restaurant industry, with today’s customer often attached to their Blackberry or iPhone. It is rare to see a group of people out at a restaurant without at least one person texting or chatting on their phone. Restaurants in older generations and cultures were a place of community. In the age of technology, has the sense of community been swallowed up by the fast paced environment of today? Is Twitter a way to get back to communicating with the guest at a grassroots level?

It is important to note that over the relatively short time that Twitter has been in existence, it has developed its own subculture and even its own vernacular. This is a new world, where an average of 65 million tweets get sent out in a single day and Charlie Sheen can reach one million followers in a little over 24 hours. So to make sure everyone has caught up to the tsunami style trend, here are just a few pieces of common twitter vocabulary:

TweeterSomeone who is authoring a statement to a group of people.
TweetIs an individual statement that a tweeter has made.
FollowMeans that a twitter account holder has selected another account holder to track and will receive all of their tweets automatically.
RetweetIs reposting a tweet that someone has written.
HashtagHashtags allow the general public to reference tweets, so that if a certain word or un-spaced group of words is hashtaged it can be searched out from a database of recent tweets
There are definitely other forms of social media out there. Some sites offer similar functions, but it is the little details that make Twitter unique. While sites like Facebook and Hi5 operate on the basis of community networking, it is only Twitter that allows its users to follow their favorite movie stars, recording artists, and even culinary talents. Chefs and restaurateurs alike have direct access to their followers and can feature products and events at the touch of a button. Twitter allows for a short note of 140 characters of text, the ability to add photos, and marketing potential that is limitless.

Chefs like Cam Dobranski of Calgary’s Wine Barcan tweet photos of the great food that he is serving and hit the dedicated customer base that it is intended for:

 


@ChefCamD says: My pork hock for two at my brasserie Kensington. Need I say more… http://yfrog.com/h8ffgamj

This approach allows guests to put a name and face to the creativity that they’re experiencing. Tweets like these represent a truly hands-on approach to marketing and a way to make the intangible tangible.

Most restaurateurs struggle with the feasibility of radio, print and television as a means of advertising as there is little way to tell how many people the ads reach and what the success is if the customer is exposed to the ad. With Twitter, users know exactly who they are tweeting to and have the ability to invite groups of people, or reference just one specific follower to join them in their establishment. This works great for special events.

Scott Roberts, Marketing Director at the Elbow River Casino uses Twitter to inform customers of upcoming events on the big screens at Sammys Sports Bar:

@elbowcasino says: Big Day at the Elbow!! Belmont Stakes into UFC 131throw in a side of Yuk Yuks and Vegas Style Gaming!! #1 entertainment venue in Calgary!

As strange as it may seem on the surface, the Twitter platform gives immense possibilities to the food and beverage industry. Twitter is a way the restaurant industry can connect with its guests on a personal level, with amazing capabilities and in real time, but with the good, the chance for bad. Although restaurateurs have the opportunity to connect with their clientele, that clientele has the same access. So if there are issues or problems with an establishment, they can be uncovered in an open forum for everyone to see and retweet.

Twitter is, in its truest sense, word of mouth advertising. The saying has always been that “word of mouth is your best form of advertising,” so be sure to put your best foot forward as Twitter could be a best friend or a worst enemy.

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About the author

Jordan Knox works at Northland Properties and is a General Manager in training at Moxie’s in Vancouver, B.C.  With over 18 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Jordan has worked throughout North America and the Caribbean with industry-leading companies. He received his diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management from SAIT Polytechnic in 2000 and is a lifelong student of the food and beverage industry, always looking for what new trends are emerging.

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