Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Apps Your Customers are Using

July 17, 2012

Yelp isn’t the only place to check when you’re wondering what customers are saying about your restaurant after they leave (and increasingly before they even finish eating!).  New services are popping up every day to help customers decide where to eat, and how to share it with their friends.  Here’s an overview of what you should be checking into if you want to keep up with your brand’s unofficial digital image.

The Source

Get Ready, Foodies – Apple Is Adding A New Food & Drink Category To The App Store — Alex Heath, The Cult of Mac
The All-Important Apple App Store, the store that started it all, is bringing new emphasis to food-related apps, and has, in part, inspired this post. With more information available on the go, customers will be making decisions about where to eat, what to order, and what to expect based increasingly on an establishment’s social presence. Certainly this doesn’t affect every eatery, but it never hurts to be aware of what’s out there.

The Tools

The Foodspotter App — Foodspotter is a beautifully-designed, image-based mobile phone application.  It’s meant to be used at a restaurant, shockingly enough, while dining.  So, if you see customers pointing their phones at their plates between bites, they may well be using this service to share your creations with the world.  These images are paired with short reviews, so just looking good is not good enough for this app (:P).  Other users can compare photos and reviews of the same dish, and the overall impression of each dish is calculated in terms of each “Sighting”.  So essentially, this is  Foursquare for cheeseburgers.

The GrubHub App — GrubHub has been making a huge splash in cities all over America, as it expands from humble beginnings as a tool for two hungry guys living in Chicago. Here’s the scoop: users tell the app where they are, and the app tells them what restaurants deliver to them. There doesn’t seem to be any ‘sign up’ responsibility on the part of managers to get listed, but it wouldn’t hurt to make sure it’s as accurate as possible for your establishment, right?

Complain About a Business Directly By Texting the Manager — Jesse Kunze, Gadgetica
This entry may have been more at home in our Guide(s) to Social Media for Restaurants, but it’s going here because this collection is all about how technology is shaping the way restaurants build relationships with their customers over technology. This app is subscription-based, paid for by the establishment, and allows customers to directly communicate with the manager. Proponents say it is a great tool for minimizing (and even capitalizing on) the fall-out of an unfortunate dining experience, because it allows them to address complaints immediately.

The “We’re Not Groupon”

GrubWithUs — We’re not here to pass judgments on daily-deal sites, but this service is quick to point out how different the two services are. With GrubWithUs, a diner looking to meet up with other food lovers sets up a meal with a participating restaurant. Other diners join this meal through the website, and if enough people join, the first person pays in advance for the meal and a reservation is made. The goal of this site is to connect people who want to share a delicious meal with new people, a stark contrast with the target customer base of Groupon and other daily deal companies. Often these diners are from out of town, or otherwise unfamiliar with the area, so this may be their only chance to discover what you have to offer!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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+ 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.


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, 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.