As with any industry, restaurants have seen how social media is changing the way we do business.
Restaurants and retail are the two industries where social media has made the most impact in 2012, and, according to this article from SmartBlogs, it looks like it will be a game changer in 2013.
Highlights from the article state that, in 2013:
* Online reviews will rule: in 2012, there was a 25% increase in online consumer reviews. This is no surprise to many. The article also talks about the fact that consumers are more inclined to trust opinions and reviews of friends and others over star ratings for restaurants. Many restaurants have already realized the power of consumer reviews and have been active in encouraging this behavior.
In 2013, expect to see online reviews drive business for restaurants. In a prior blog, we talked about the mobile Yelp app, which only enforces this thinking. People can check reviews easily and in the moment, and exactly when they're in close proximity to your restaurant. This will go a long way in customer traffic this year.
* Consumer reviews will be more than just reviews: I did see inklings of this in 2012 when talking with our clients and prospective clients. As consumer reviews grow, restaurants can start tapping into them to not only gauge customer satisfaction, but they can be used as part of employee reviews, manager bonuses, and incentive programs.
One restaurant owner recently shared that they are already doing this; if a review is found online that mentions a particular employee by name, they get a monetary reward.
Similarly, another restaurant shared that they look at review ratings for the year as a baseline, and set manager goals to improve their online ratings by x% in the coming year. Something to think about, as this article suggests that this too could be a new way for restaurants to utilize online reviews.
* Location specific data: with mobile marketing on the rise, and consumer conversations online becoming more specific, it's no wonder that restaurants will be more focused on location specific data vs the wider scope of brand reputation. As a company grows, managers can't be everywhere all the time. They're realizing that social media data is a great tool to pinpoint potential issues early on and remedy them before it's too late.
* Competitive Intelligence just got easier: many restaurants have realized the power of the competitive intelligence that can be gained through social media conversations. While this area has shown some growth in 2012, the article suggests that it will become even more important in the coming year. From the article,
"In 2012 we saw the hot brands using competitive data in new, previously unimagined ways, and we predict that more than one-third of restaurants adding menu items will be inspired by their competition's online customer feedback."
This article was quite interesting; I will be one to monitor trends for restaurants in social media closely this year to watch for changes in the way restaurants use social media to their advantage.
Are you in the industry? How does your company utilize social media? Please share your experiences in the comments section below!