September 11, 2012 |

Joel Cohen Expo Exclusive 2012

By Pizza Today


Realizing it’s another hat to wear, with many more to come, pizza restaurant owners are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to jump on the social media bandwagon and roll the dice on how much these efforts may or may not increase sales.

The big question that looms like a black cloud over your restaurant is, “In a volatile economy, where do you focus your most valuable marketing assets—in areas that have more reliable and sustainable track records of returning profits, or in platforms that, though they communicate to your guests, are more difficult to attribute as contributors to your bottom line?

More and more of you are choosing to click over to the online tools. With social media marketing and mobile marketing expected to be mainstays in our fast-forward economy, it’s imperative that this be done seamlessly. The following are nine elements to help ensure your success:

1. Make sure every single aspect and customer touchpoint of your restaurant, from the outside on in, is “remarkable.” If you’re able to WOW your guests, they’ll be more receptive to participating in your social media marketing endeavors—and they’ll influence their own fans and followers about your restaurant. A restaurant that is not “prepped” to enter the social media arena has the potential of being dropped to its knees with a torrent of viral negative comments and publicity.

2. Have a clear understanding of why you want to enter the social media marketing space. What are your expectations? What are your specific goals?

3. How will you determine if your efforts in social media marketing are a success? Are systems in place to determine the ROI of a shift in media dollars from one source of advertising to a specific social media platform within a specific time frame?

4. Who will be responsible for sustaining the social media efforts of your restaurant? Are they proficient at writing stories rather than just writing about discounts? Are they prepared to post three to five times a week with content that is fascinating and constantly fueling conversations and comments?

5. Do you have a “Social Media Employees Policies” document in place that encourages your employees to “talk” about your restaurant—to share and promote its values—yet protect the privacy and integrity of the restaurant and its current and former employees?

6. How will you convert fans to raving fans and then to customers?

7. Which social media platform is best suited for you to communicate to your customers and how does it fit into your sales-building marketing plan?

8. Who will be responsible for monitoring online “talk” about your restaurant and respond within 90 minutes? Who is trained and accountable to handle customer remarks and problems that may go viral within minutes?

9. Who has the “creativity” on your staff to implement Facebook programs that WOW your customers and keep them interested in being a fan forever? Do you have a list of 50 topics or stories that would be relevant to post on your wall?
The lure of entering social media is extremely attractive. The programs—Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and the various others—are free to use, but the key is in how you communicate with people.

While it’s too easy to train your fans to be addicted to discounts, there are many other ways to keep their interest level high—which means the key to success is going to be your content.

Content is the key. Without original, creative and engaging content that includes a call to action—elements that are no different than what you’d use for traditional media—your efforts will go wasted. And social media will become a time dump.

The challenge that faces restaurants is one of understanding that using social media marketing is difficult and may not be for everyone. Beneath the hype about this trend being the next road to riches, lurks a silent danger—that it can divert focus and time away from what really makes you successful.

While social media, if used properly, can complement your existing sales-building efforts, the fact is the restaurant business will always be a people business, run by people serving people. And without the people element, even online, your restaurant simply becomes a vending machine.

See Joel Cohen at International Pizza Expo® / Click Here to Register for Pizza Expo
Exploring social media marketing while keeping it in context for the restaurant business will be the focus of two of Joel Cohen’s seminars at Pizza Expo 2012. He’ll also speak on proven ways to get your pizzeria good word of mouth. Find Joel online at