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Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Increase Traffic

By Nicole Reed, Communications Manager, MenuMax

For many restaurants it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach a broad range of customers without incurring a hefty advertising fee. The new money conscious consumer is selective when choosing where to dine, and most of the time restaurants do not have a budget dedicated to getting those consumers in the door. However, by leveraging the power of new social media trends, any establishment has the potential to increase their traffic without spending a fortune.

According to research provider Packaged Facts, “Restaurants’ use of location-based marketing to promote to and drive consumers to a particular restaurant while they are mobile will “explode” in 2011”. We all know that establishing a presence on various social media platforms such as Facebook, and Twitter is part of marketing 101, but there is a new trend building momentum behind the use of  “location-based” media to increase traffic.

Lets talk about how this works.  The most popular services to date include Foursquare, Gowalla,Yelp, Facebook Places, and Twitter Geolocation. These services allow restaurants to interact with their customers on a whole new level, all while building brand loyalty. Arriving at a location, customers are able to “check-in”, restaurants can then make relevant, well timed promotions that are only available to those guests. This is an important feature because by offering unique promotions to mobile phone users, establishments are making them VIP customers.  Who doesn’t like to be a VIP? Restaurants depend upon the repeat customer, and offering special discounts and promotions to these guests are a sure way to build brand loyalty and encourage them to spread the word.

According to an article published on nicheretail .com, a PF consumer survey shows that “one in five (21%) consumers who consider going out to restaurants “part of their lifestyles” already uses cell phones or other portable devices to place orders, and nearly four in 10 adult consumers use social media platforms to learn about restaurants”. This data shows that consumers are becoming more and more linked to their mobile devices and restaurants are beginning to take notice. The most technology savvy establishments are starting to offer auto payment systems that allow customers to order, and take care of their bill using their mobile devices and customers are running to try this new feature. This is a trend that is sure to spread throughout the year and early adopters are likely to see an increase in traffic as customers look to try this unique opportunity.

Only time will tell how successful these new techniques are, but by adopting the use of location-based technology early and all it has to offer, restaurants have the potential to interact on a deeper level with their customers and increase foot traffic in their establishments.

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