If you build it, they will tweet.
In 2013, bars and restaurants alone will spend roughly $18 billion to entertain their on-premise customers. And for good reason – when customers hang out at your business longer, they tend to spend more money. This emphasis on on-premise entertainment is crossing the bridge from analog to digital technology, and the benefits are obvious to anyone who has heard about a great pub from a friend on Facebook or discovered a new bistro by scrolling through Instagram.
Traditional entertainment options such as trivia, DJs, bands, sports networks and pool tables keep patrons on the premises. However, new solutions that leverage smartphone and social media connectivity are increasingly more relevant to consumers and create the online buzz needed to get new customers in the door.
First, create the unforgettable moment. Then, go mobile and social.
We are all doing business in the new consumer era of Facebook, smartphones and interactive marketing. Your customer might be holding a drink, a fork, a treadmill rail or a piece of merchandise in one hand, but in her other hand, she’s likely holding her smartphone. Fortunately, this always-connected state is an opportunity for business owners who want customers sharing their businesses online.
However, to do that, businesses first have to create a unique experience worth talking about. So, rather than thinking “We need to be more active on social media and mobile apps,” first think about whether there are unforgettable aspects about your on-site experience worthy of a thousand tweets. If not, create them first. Here’s how.
#1 – Food and beverage
If you’re a restaurant owner, create and promote your unique, signature dish. It could be the best of crème brulee in town or simply a meal that your customers have never seen or weren’t expecting. For today’s consumers, this is the type of experience that’s “tweet-worthy” and shareable on social media.
If you give your customers a unique meal, they will be much more likely to use services like Instagram, UrbanSpoon, Foodspotting and Yelp to tell the world about your restaurant, post photos of the food, and write positive reviews. Then, add your Twitter username or a custom hashtag (e.g. #ChulasGourmetNachos) to your menu to remind customers to share.
#2 – The entertainment
If you run a bar, restaurant, store or gym—take a look at your “on-premise entertainment.” For example, music is probably the most universal aspect of on-premise entertainment and very important to today’s consumer. New solutions like Rockbot allow your customers to engage with your music from their phones and share the experience with friends on social media. Platforms like Buzztime reach customers through digital gaming, such as trivia. For live entertainment, do some extra research to figure out which local bands and DJs already have a strong social media following and book them for a set.
Once you’re offering a unique entertainment experience, enable customers to spread the word. Apps like Rockbot automatically get your customers sharing through the app itself, but for bands and DJs, include a call-to-action for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on your promotional materials and posters.
#3 – The Event
Host at least one weekly event to find your “regulars.” Tuesday night trivia has practically guaranteed a crowded pub for years. Sundays and Saturdays are a goldmine for NFL and college football fans in the fall. Or consider a weekly 25 percent sale, a karaoke night, a weekly competition, a morning class with the latest fitness bootcamp—the list goes on. Consumers love to announce their evening plans on social media, so give them a reason to.
Creating the social on-ramp for customer conversations
To ensure that your business can engage in such conversations, you need to be represented on the channels where people are talking about you. You’ve spent the time to create a tweet-worthy product and customer experience; leverage that achievement by creating and maintaining an active, responsive account on Twitter or whatever social networking channels your customers prefer. If you fail to take this final engagement step, your customers will still talk about their experiences – but they won’t mention your business when they do so.
Fortunately, there’s no need to be overwhelmed with social media and every new app and service that comes along. Customers want an experience and social media is the “comment card” of this new generation, so start by trying some of the ideas above and all the tweets, photos and posts will come naturally.
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