Archive for June, 2012

PENPals’ Guide to Social Media Guides for Foodservice Brands, Part 2

June 26, 2012

And we’re BACK with PENPals’ Guide to Social Media Guides for Foodservice Brands — Part 2, our quick collection of treatises that will, we hope, help you stake out your piece of the social media landscape.  We focus even more on the crowd in this edition, in light of new development along the Yelp front, and a major change coming from Twitter.

Twitter

Your Tweets Are About To Get Longer— Farhad Manjoo, Slate
Twitter is moving into longer-form messages, though not the way you’d expect.  Basically, certain sources will have the opportunity to inject more detailed meta-content into links from their sites, so users who post them can see more about the link before clicking on it.  There is currently something of an application process to be one of those special few brands, but all signs point to this becoming a more important feature in the long-term.

Pinterest

5 Ways to Promote Your Restaurant on Pinterest — Christopher Lower, Above the Buzz
Mr. Lower here provides an excellent overview of the potential value of maintaining an active Pinterest account for your business.  He tends to focus on the SEO benefits, which, while nothing to shrug off, are not the only way of maximizing on your time.  Pinterest is fundamentally an image-based sharing network, allowing companies who produce stunning visuals to easily present themselves to the world.  Sound like a great place for an interactive online menu?  We think so.

Elsewhere

Social Media on a Small Business Budget — Liana Evans, ClickZ
A nice overview of how some have managed their resources around a social media campaign, be it a short-lived push or a long-term presence.  If you’re unsure of where to begin, this is a good place to start.
TripAdvisor Aims To Beat Yelp With Social, Revives Restaurant “Local Picks” Facebook App
More competition for Yelp, and another online stockpile of reviews to at least be aware of.  TripAdvisor, usually associated with making travel arrangements and providing an easy way of learning about unfamiliar local offerings, is making a move to capture more of the local market.  What does this mean for you?  Probably not much, but it’s good to be aware that local customers may be seeing more opinions from out-of-towners as they make their dinner plans.

Opinion

When is it Okay to Write  a Bad Yelp Review?
This blogger considers the many things that customers should take into account before venting spleen on a restaurant’s Yelp page.  Surely most of this won’t be news to those in the food industry, but this may be worth passing around to the staff as a smart refresher of what is at stake when customers feel mishandled.

Testimonials: Martha

June 23, 2012

“I am not one for being good at vocalizing my opinion but I will say that I have enjoyed doing most of the the evaluations and have watched the PEN Pals site develop and grow over the years. It has been pleasurable being part of the program.”

Martha

PENPals’ Guide to Social Media Guides for Foodservice Brands, Part 1

June 19, 2012

Everyone and their sister has written a How-To for Social Media, so in lieu of doing so ourselves, we’ve set out to collect the best resources we’ve found on the topic, with emphasis on using social media as a foodservice brand.  We’ve sought out articles that seem to present the “Golden Thread” of success, and thereby avoid too much contradiction or overlap, though suggestions may vary between any two articles.  Anyway, without further ado, we present to you PENPals’ Guide to Social Media Guides for Foodservice Brands.

Facebook

How to Use Timeline for Brand Pages: New Feature Details — Josh Constine, TechCrunch
This article popped up right as Facebook was about to make the new Timeline layout mandatory for all business pages.  Instead of going over a whole tutorial-esque introduction to engaging customers on Facebook, try out just this article, which will give you an overview of the features available with Timeline.  You’ve got to know which tools you have before you know what tools to learn more about!

Google+

Google+ beefed up with Zagat, which is now free for all — Jeremy C Owens, Mercury News
We posted this story last week, but feel it belongs here as well.  The ever-tighter integration of Zagat reviews with Google+ searches (those aimed specifically at finding local eateries) has implications for patron relationships I’m sure we don’t need to wax poetic over here.

Elsewhere

3 Steps to Determine if Social Local Mobile Is Right for Your Business — Jamie Turner, Social Media Examiner
A relatively general primer, more focused on helping you decide if you should even bother with social media (Spoilers: if you’re a restaurant, they say YES). There follows some discussion of how to make your targeted customers comfortable with engaging with you through this new strategy. All-around a good place to start when branching out!

Fund your restaurant via social media? It can be done — Bob Krummert, Restaurant Hospitality
Crowd-sourcing is one of those new buzzwords that seems to be everywhere, leaving business owners, and prospective business owners, wondering where they can get involved with this phenomenon.  The answer may be websites like Kickstarter.com, which creates an easy link between the project, or restaurant, and donors of any caliber.  Be very aware, though, if the project’s goal amount isn’t reached, the money doesn’t get sent!  With this in mind, however, many have made it work for them.  This article may help you succeed.

Testimonials: Vicky

June 16, 2012

“I think the PEN Pals and Product Evaluations programs are great! Not only do I get to provide input that helps to shape the face of new products in food service, but I get incredible benefits from it myself. I have gotten to try many new/test products in my restaurant, and have been able to receive many useful (or just fun) items in return. Some for the bar, some for the kitchen, and some for myself! I recently had enough points from all the surveys and test product placements that I was able to get a Sony home theater sound system for my bedroom. It is very high quality, just like all the rewards in your catalog. Thank you PEN Pals and Product Evaluations!”

Vicky

What We’re Following: Foodservice Tech Trends, Part 3

June 12, 2012

Well, here we are again with another set of articles bearing technological prophesy for the foodservice industry! Last time we focused on the integration of tablet computers with POS systems of all persuasions, from the traditional to the cutting edge. This time around we’re taking a look at how some restaurants are taking advantage of tech resources to solve the timeless problems associated with growth.

Social Rumblings, Customer Engagement

Google+ beefed up with Zagat, which is now free for all — Jeremy C Owens, Mercury News
Last year, Google bought Zagat.  Now Zagat is integrated even more tightly into your food-related search results on the Internet giant’s social network, Google+, while not to mention also free for everyone on the Zagat website (don’t worry, the little red book will still be sold!).   Whether you’re a restaurant operator or a patron, this means unprecedented access to one of the most highly regarded restaurant review aggregators in the country.  Good food is becoming easier to find than ever before!

Skip Yelp; Text Your Terrible Experience Right to the Restaurant — Suzanne Choney, MSNBC
This service is almost exactly what it sounds like. For participating restaurants, customers are enabled to send anonymous text messages directly to the owners or managers of a restaurant, and the recipient is then able to respond immediately to the concern (as if they didn’t have enough going on!), in the hopes that a speedy resolution will prevent bad reviews on sites like Yelp.

Restaurants using iPad kiosks for customer loyalty — QSRWeb.com
Trade in that loyalty card for a new tablet!  Engage your customers with some exciting new technology, say these tech start-ups.  To be frank, anyone who lets me play with a tablet computer will always be considered fondly.  Perhaps the same will be true for your customers?

The Shady Side…If you catch my drift..

California restaurants decry ‘Yelp extortion’ — Doug Powell
Concern over a disgruntled citizen’s demand for gift certificate compensation for an alleged bout of food poisoning, at the risk of their leaving a negative Yelp review for the restaurant, has some considering the darker side of social media, and what it could mean for restaurants.  Like any other tool, of course, social media is only as good as those who use it properly.  A few crazy characters out there shouldn’t spoil the party for the rest of us! 🙂

Recap of Mobile Tech and POS from Last Month’s NRA Show

From the Floor: High Tech on the Front Lines — Barney Wolf, QSR Magazine
Contrasting a foodservice convention with one for consumer electronics should be a relatively simple task, notes Mr. Wolf, but now the edges are blurring.  Many of the most prominent features of this year’s NRA show were tech-heavy solutions to age-old problems in the restaurant business.  See what he has to say in this article for QSR Magazine.

Testimonials: S. Zurkamer

June 9, 2012

“What I would say–By participating, I get to see what is being looked at as far as new products/packaging/merchandising. To then see some items at a later date actually come to the marketplace makes you feel like you had a part in that happening.”

S. Zurkamer, OH

What We’re Following: The World of Poultry

June 5, 2012

Next to red meat, poultry probably faces the greatest public scrutiny in the modern food system.  Following some controversial USDA decisions, we decided to pull together a short overview of the poultry news, some of which echoes the ‘pink slime’ kerfuffle of months past.  The last story, concerning the California Fois Gras ban, is  a precursor to an upcoming series on the topic, so stay tuned!

Chicken Processing Shake-Ups

USDA Poultry Plant Proposal Could Allow Plants To Speed Up Processing Lines, Stirring Concern For WorkersThe Huffington Post

Chicken Editorial

Arsenic in Our Chicken? — Nicholas D Kristof, New York Times

California Foie Gras Legislation

Chefs Fight California Foie Gras Ban — Jessica Chou, The Daily Meal

Testimonials: Sally

June 2, 2012

As a food service operator and dietitian, I value the opportunities that PEN Pals allow me to
provide with my input to food and food industry product-related manufacturers regarding their new ideas.

Since so many of these companies no longer provide company representatives and/or brokers to call
on operators, this is my way to continue to inform the manufacturers of what my customers and I like,
need and want. I feel my opinions and judgements are valued and play a vital role in shaping new and
innovative products. I enjoy the freedom to respond during my available time, at my pace. I, so, do not
miss all those lengthy telephone interviews that have all but disappeared from my day. I can respond
with speed and without the frustration of someone asking for clarification of what I said.
And, it is a real WOW to see when one of those products that I evaluated is featured in a food magazine or at a food show! ”

Sally