The Power of Hashtags in Restaurant Marketing

Hashtags-For-RestaurantsWelcome back to my blog.  This week I’m writing about a very simple yet productive tool for gaining recognition on your restaurant’s social media pages.  Recently, I’ve noticed many sites that are now implementing “hashtags”.  At first I didn’t think much about it, but once my friends and I began using them ourselves, I actually got more “likes” on posts.

 

What’s a hashtag?

For those of you who don’t use hashtags, here’s what I know about them:  Hashtags (better known as ‘#’) are used by social media users who want a particular post to link to other similar posts.  In less confusing terms, I think they help weed out unwanted posts and filter searches down to an exact term or phrase.  For example, if a restaurant posts a picture on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with the description “#filetmignon,” any other person who searches “#filetmignon” will see the restaurant’s post.

How are they beneficial to restaurant marketing?

I started thinking about how restaurants could benefit from hashtags.  I found this great article on Forbes.com explaining why general hashtags like “#culinary” are good to use.  More people search general tags, so they give your restaurant more room to grow an audience.  This seems like a simple way to advertise for free.

How can a restaurant use hashtags to their advantage?

As easy as hashtags seem, you have to monitor your usage.  SproutSocial’s article explains how keeping hashtags within a certain topic will keep them from looking like spam. One of my favorite restaurants, Vera, does this. They combine hashtags related to local events with general hashtags to reach more people.

Hashtags are a great marketing tool for restaurants because food lovers across the globe can get easy access to local dining on social media pages they use everyday.  I’m getting a little hungry, so I think I will go search Twitter for some local #ItalianFood.

Thanks for reading,

Annie Koehlinger

You can learn more about me on my flavors.me page: http://flavors.me/anniekoehlinger

Restaurant Menus on Tablets

Tablet Menu

A tablet menu from “E la Carte”.

Welcome back to my blog. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about a restaurant that put its menu on Instagram. My friend recently told me about a restaurant she went to that had replaced its paper menus with a tablet. It turns out that this is a growing trend in the restaurant industry.

I found an article from Forbes about a company called “E la Carte” that designed a tablet menu program. This platform, Presto, promises durability and longer battery life. The article writer describes using the app while at dinner in Silicon Valley. He used the app to access a menu that included descriptions of each dish and an image and then ordered drinks, his meal, and dessert. It sounds like the restaurant left the tablet at his table because he was able to play a few social games while he waited for his food to arrive. After finishing the meal, he used the tablet to pay by credit card and leave a tip. Also, he noted that the app allows you to split the bill, rate your server, request a receipt via email, and sign up for the restaurant’s promotional email list. The full Forbes article is available here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomtaulli/2012/01/13/will-tablets-kill-the-traditional-menu/

A more recent article on tnooz looks at whether tablet menus are too problematic to catch on. They suggest that customers will be worried about whether their credit card details are truly secure and believe that others will find the new technology too stressful to use. The article even says that someone people go to restaurants to escape technology, yet whenever I go out to eat I always see people on their phones instead of talking to each other. I do agree, though, that it will be tough to get rid of waiters/waitresses completely. It not only looks bad because of the people who will lose their jobs but I can think of many times when I went to a restaurant and the server affected my overall experience. Here are some of the other arguments tnooz makes for/against tablet menus: http://www.tnooz.com/Tablets-replacing-paper-menus-in-restaurants-Is-this-trend-going-to-work-or-backfire

What do you think? Would you use a tablet menu? Have you had the chance to try one already?

Thanks for reading,

Annie Koehlinger

Learn more about me by connecting with me on Viadeo or ask me a question on Quora: http://www.quora.com/Annie-Koehlinger

Making a Restaurant Website

Restaurant website

Background images can enhance the website’s appearance.

Welcome back to my blog. Annie Koehlinger here with another post about culinary arts and entrepreneurship. I am about to start college and will be studying culinary arts. I hope my degree will prepare to one day own and manage a restaurant. When I do, I will have to make a website to promote my restaurant. I recently read an article with seven tips and tricks for creating a restaurant website, and here were some of my favorite suggestions:

 

Keep it Simple

The article mentions that a restaurant website should always have a main mage, a menu, an “About Us” page, and a contact form. “Without any of them the website will never be complete.” I think this is great advice since most of the times when I am looking at a restaurant’s website I am trying to figure out when they are open or what they have on the menu.

Think About Your Color Scheme

The article points out that the four colors you usually see on a restaurant’s website are brown, white, red, and black. The colors make for a simple design but I had no idea that each color also symbolizes something specific. Brown = reliability and adherence to tradition, white = freedom or freshness, black = mystery, and red is often used by fast food restaurants to represent secret desires.

Use High-Quality Images

I already wrote a blog post about effective food photography, but these photographs aren’t just for menus. The article says that large background photos help make the website more attractive and encourage people to keep clicking through your site. Any images of food should be “delicious”, because this will make sure viewers can’t wait to step into your restaurant and get a bite.

You can view the full article, along with examples of well-designed restaurant websites, here: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/designing-restaurant-websites/

Thanks for reading,

Annie Koehlinger

You can also learn more about me on Viadeo: http://us.viadeo.com/en/profile/annie.koehlinger

Nine Ways to Build Restaurant Sales

Boring restaurant

Don’t let your restaurant be boring!

Thanks for coming back to my blog. As I mentioned before, my name is Annie Koehlinger and I am planning to one day own and operate a restaurant. I spend a lot of time researching new recipe ideas and have even traveled with my family to many international restaurants to study their food culture. I also read a lot about entrepreneurship since obviously a good restaurant needs more than just good food. Recently, I have been visiting RestaurantMarketingBlog.com. In their latest post, they shared nine great ways to help build restaurant sales. These suggestions were:

Build good word of mouth by having something interesting to talk about.

  • I think the best way to get people talking about your restaurant is to find a way to make it different, maybe by focusing on dishes from a specific region or adding unique decorations.

What impresses one customer might not be what impresses another customer.

  • Customers have very different tastes so make sure you have a wide variety of dishes; even an Italian restaurant cooks more than just pizza.

Every customer touch-point must be set up to impress a customer.

  • Pay attention to everything, from the décor and menu to food presentation.

Take a step outside of your restaurant and declare it boring.

  • I think the writer means to always be looking for new ways to make your restaurant interesting and unique.

Examine each area of your restaurant and ask “what if?”

  • As mentioned in the third tip, never stop looking for areas for improvement.

Just because another restaurant is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

  • Be sure your restaurant has its own personality instead of trying to copy what others are doing.

Good enough just isn’t good enough any more.

  • Never stop looking for areas to improve, which is a good life lesson as well.

Guests are looking for something beyond the average and when they find it, they will leave you in a heartbeat.

  • I think it’s important to always go above and beyond to make sure everything about the diner’s experience is perfect.

Facebook Fans and email lists are not loyal if they are just expecting discounts.

  • This makes sense, as I have followed a lot of restaurants on Facebook that I never visit unless they are offering discounts but I’ll happily visit my favorites without a coupon.

Here is the original blog post: http://www.restaurantmarketingblog.com/2013/08/nine-ways-build-sales.html

Thanks for reading,

Annie Koehlinger

For more restaurant tips, visit my Bigsight profile or connect with me on Google+: https://plus.google.com/112899205200324593216/posts

Using Social Media to Market a Restaurant

Social media

Welcome back to my blog. I’m hoping to one day use my passion for cooking to open a successful restaurant, but the best restaurants do more than just make delicious foods; they also know how to market. Personally I love social media; especially Twitter and Pinterest. I think it would be tricky for a restaurant to market itself on social media without looking like spam. Here are a few tips from a recent article I found about marketing restaurants online:

Make a Facebook Page for your Restaurant

Frequent diners and even casual fans can “Like” your restaurant on Facebook once you create its Facebook Page. This is a great way to reach customers and get them thinking about your restaurant while they are viewing their friends’ photos and status updates. I personally follow some of my favorite restaurants on Facebook and am more likely to recommend them to friends when they share coupons or specials.

Tweet, Tweet

Twitter is another great platform for reaching customers. You can tweet out menu items, daily specials, or promotions to anyone who chooses to follow the restaurant on Twitter. Sometimes I follow restaurants and end up unfollowing them because they only talk about themselves. As the article mentions, tweeting about other local events and responding to followers who tweet something like, “where should I go for lunch?” is a great way to start a conversation.

Sneak Peek

I love taking pictures of dishes I have cooked (as I discussed in my last blog post) but I also really enjoy seeing photos and videos of delicious food. Impress customers by uploading photos of your menu to Instagram or add behind-the-scene videos to YouTube so that potential customers can meet your chef. As the article suggests, you can even interview customers about their favorite dishes and they might share the interview with friends and social media connections.

Find other restaurant social media ideas in this Eating Social blog post: http://eatingsocial.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/use-social-media-to-promote-your-restaurant/

Thanks,

Annie Koehlinger

Taking Great Food Photos

Thank you for reading my blog. Cooking is my passion and I hope to one day own and operate my own restaurant. I have always been interested in photography and plan to use photography to market my future restaurant. In the meantime, I have been honing my food photography skills while traveling. I recently read an article on Uncornered Market with 10 great tips for taking high-quality food photos while traveling abroad. A few of my favorites were:

“Show Genuine Interest and Curiosity.”

The article suggests that by expressing interest in a dish, you will encourage vendors or chefs to share a bit about how the dish is cooked. When I recently took a trip to Paris with my parents, I met several chefs and had the opportunity to learn about their cooking techniques. My discussions with chefs at Capella Padregal and Café Med stand out in particular.

“Go Where the Food is”

I have traveled to a number of diverse locations, including Paris, Cabo San Lucas, and Boston. Sometimes my family and I will eat at prestigious restaurants and other times we will look for unique restaurants that locals frequent. This allows me to try many new flavors and techniques that I can one day incorporate in my own cooking style. The article recommends finding offbeat meals at street food stalls, delis, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and open markets.

Dumpling photo

This image from the original article demonstrates how showing context can enhance the dish’s aesthetic appeal.

“Show Some Context”

The article recommends including drinks, condiments, or even other diners in the photo to give the dish some context. An example picture in the article, showing a pair of chopsticks holding a dumpling, helps illustrate this concept. I like the idea of using the photo to capture the atmosphere of the restaurant and the full experience of the meal but I would also suggest including side dishes.

View the full list of suggestions here: http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2010/01/10-tips-for-taking-great-food-photos/

Thanks for reading,

Annie Koehlinger

 

Learn more about me on Quora or view my other restaurant ideas by following me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnieKoehlinger

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Using Instagram to Enhance Restaurant Menus

Thank you again for taking the time to read my blog. The love of cooking has brought me to my dream, which is one day to become a restaurant entrepreneur. My goal is to attend college and earn a Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Studies. With my journey about to begin, I have been thinking ahead and brainstorming of what the future will hold as far as marketing. A great idea I read on CNET last year was related to Instagram Menus. I think this would be a great marketing concept.

Instagramming Food

My friends and I always Instagram pretty entrees at restaurants, but I did not realize that this could benefit restaurant owners. According to the article, New York restaurant Comodo created the hashtag #COMODOMENU after noticing a lot of customers post their meals on Instagram. Now diners who are not sure what to order can search this hashtag to find out what friends recommend. Having an interest  in photography will allow me to use my photography skills to take food pictures for my future restaurant’s menu, but as the article mentions, few restaurants actually include photos in their menus. An Instagram menu allows owners to visually market a restaurant without cluttering up the menu.

When CNET published the original article about Comodo,  55 photos were tagged #comodomenu. I just checked and there are now over 1,000 photos with this tag so the idea looks like a success. Comodo will need to watch out for spammers though, as some of the photos with this tag are memes or photos from other restaurants.

Comodo made a video to promote its Instagram Menu, the video can be viewed here: http://vimeo.com/51408113

I cannot wait to do more research on innovative restaurant marketing ideas, and I will make sure to share what I find on this blog.

Thank you again for reading,

Annie Koehlinger

You can learn more about me by following me on Twitter or visiting my Bigsight profile: http://bigsight.org/annie_koehlinger

P.S. Mom if you are reading this, I would not complain if you took me to New York so that I could add a photo of my own to Comodo’s Instagram Menu.