Local Social Restaurant Reviews- A blessing or a curse?
The term “local social” is all the rage in digital marketing circles. A blessing or a curse, technology has skyrocketed a customer’s ability to wreak havoc on brand appeal, both locally and globally. Companies pay a lot of money for what is called “reputation management,” or encouraging customers to socialize positively about their brands online. The management piece comes into play whenever a negative social review is submitted into the online universe. The reputation pros will monitor social conversation about your brand, go into Defcon-4 mode, and then launch a full scale social neutralization effort if even one Instagram photo of moldy yogurt rears its ugly head.
The Good News
Can’t afford to hire a reputation manager of your own? As it turns out, negative social restaurant reviews are not as big of a deal as digital marketers initially thought. A recent NPD Group study discovered diners are not that affected by local review websites such as Yelp and Facebook. An entire industry built on loyalty, food and beverage may have just caught a break. Beyond uncovering what diners do not care about, the NPD Group study also uncovered what does influence restaurant loyalty.
- Get in your patrons’ wallets. The best way to attract customers is to offer discounts, coupons, and deals. Whether online or offline, saving money is the best way to get loyalty flowing.
- Establish a loyalty program. Maybe this program comes in the form of a discount card or email campaign, but rewarding customers for their continued patronage to your restaurant is very powerful marketing.
- Display as much information about your restaurant as possible. If your website isn’t up to snuff – invest in a new one! Load it with menu item descriptions, customer testimonials, and interesting blog posts. Potential customers want to see a content-rich site when they surf to your domain.
- Ask for customers to review your establishment. Wait, didn’t you just tell us this stuff doesn’t matter? Nope, what I said is negative reviews aren’t as bad as we once thought when influencing someone not to come into your establishment. Positive reviews are still major social proof and should be encouraged. The only way to remove a negative review is to drown it with positive ones and a restaurant owner cannot do that unless he or she is actively asking customers to rate their experiences.
Even if your restaurant has been established for generations, don’t site back on your laurels and watch new diners pass you by. New restaurants may carry a buzz but without true positive social proof, that buzz can dissipate quickly. Without the right mix of location, marketing, and pricing, the latest restaurant trend may become the latest bank-owned property!
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