Exploring Twitter for Restaurants – Idea No. 3

 In 4. Jenny Brooks, Marketing, Public Relations

by Jenny Brooks

In a post on April 23, I provided five ideas for restaurants to use Twitter. I promised to explore each of these a little deeper, so I’m going to expand on each of these over the course of the next week. As a bonus, I’ll add a few more ideas to the final post, so keep coming back.

To refresh, the five ideas were:
1. List the daily specials for all the day parts you serve.
2. Tweet about any daily offers, such as a discounts, promotions, events.
3. Create special Twitter promotions and tweet about them.
4. Host a Tweetup in your restaurant – a social gathering formed through posts/invitations on Twitter.
5. Tweet from your restaurant throughout the day, keeping people up to speed on what happens in your restaurant throughout the day.

Twitter for Restaurants, Idea No. 3:

Here’s what I would do if I was an independent restaurant owner and wanted to drum up some excitement for my Twitter followers – Create special promotions for those followers.

Treat them like you would a VIP.

If they care enough about your food and business to follow you on Twitter and respond to your tweets, then you have to reward them. And if you reward them big enough, you’ll start to generate more followers from the retweets and the word-of-mouth buzz will soon follow.

Now, the impact of this is going to depend on what you can afford and how BIG you’re willing to go.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume a few things:

1. You have a marketing budget.
2. You know how much it costs to give away your food.
3. You know your target customer and where to reach them.
4. You have measurable marketing goals.

If this isn’t true of you, Twitter is a good place to start figuring some of this stuff out, but you might be disappointed by the responses that you get. Start with a marketing plan and some research/background information. The plan doesn’t have to include anything but Twitter, but it will help to set the expectations so you know what your ROI is.

Two examples of things you can do:

1. Give free meal/gift certificate for next visit/free dessert/free appetizer/whatever is valuable to your guest to the first three people who come in and mention the tweet. Variations on the promotion include how many people get the free item, what the free value is worth, if it’s on the day of the tweet or within two days, or how you determine who gets the give-away item. Tweet it a few times in the daypart before the give-away time frame. So if it’s free lunch, tweet your promotion three or four times between 9:30 and 11 a.m. Be sure to ask people to retweet the promotion.

2. Have trivia contests on Twitter to gauge your followers’ interaction. Start with easy stuff and give something free to those who answer correctly. Start with giving something for free to everyone who responds. Some sort of promotional item, or a $5 gift certificate, or something that won’t break the bank if 25 people respond. If you get more than 25 people – you’re on FIRE. In this case, why are you reading this post? You’ve got it going on! When the number of responses starts to increase, then make it competitive and give the free item to the first person who replies with the right answer. Make it a good free item, too!

OK, these two ideas could take up a lot of time on Twitter each day. But each one has a tracking benefit. You can track replies, retweets and in-store traffic. You can build these measurable stats into your marketing plan and measure the ROI.

One little caveat – limit wins to followers so that the same follower can’t win free lunch every day or get the free item every day. Post some rules on your Web site or let people know the rules for winning are available upon request at the restaurant.

The great thing about Twitter is the agility. If things start to get a little hectic, you can slow down on the give aways, or ease up on the value of the offers. Or you can change the rules. But whatever you do, if you build momentum and gain followers and in-store traffic, don’t stop using Twitter.

Go back to the original post and read about how to collect followers and encourage your customers to follow you on Twitter.

Happy Tweeting.

On to Idea No. 4.

Jenny Brooks is a public relations professional providing expert and strategic tactics for businesses trying to increase awareness about themselves and their products. She is also the editor of SMART Systems Insider, a monthly newsletter from Restaurant Expert David Scott Peters. Questions about PR and how she can help your restaurant? Email her.

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