By Clayton Krueger
Wow! Can you believe that social media marketing was not even a topic of conversation just 10 years ago? Since then, powerful social media platforms have risen and fallen. Others have emerged and earned their rank among the top-visited sites in the world. More importantly, these networks play a vital role in our daily lives as well as those of our customers.
The question no longer is: Why should we as pizzeria operators employ a social media strategy as part of our overall marketing mix? The question is: How? At Farrelli’s Pizza, where I am employed as the director of marketing and communications, we were early adopters in the use of social media as part of our marketing mix. On May 1, 2007, we ventured into the unknown landscape of business social networking by creating a MySpace profile for Farrelli’s. We learned a great deal as we forged ahead, opening new accounts on different networks and watching our MySpace network fizzle away. What we learned can be summarized with a fishing analogy.
There are many reasons to go fishing—quiet time with nature, idle hours with friends, etc.—but ultimately the idea is to catch some fish in the process. In order to do that, the accepted general consensus is that you need to fish where the fish are biting. This involves some strategy. You can cast your bait where there are a lot of smaller fish, the idea being that you will catch a lot of them but probably none that spawn a legend. Or you can set out to catch the big one. Sure you may not get as many bites, but when you do, it will be worth screaming and shouting about!
Social networking is similar for many reasons. It is something you do alone, but it is something you do to communicate with others. Depending on where and how you utilize social media, you will be networking where there are lots of fish. As a business, we can look at these as different types of opportunities.
For example, Facebook is by far and away the largest social media network worldwide; there isn’t even a close second. So it goes without saying that if you want to catch some fish by employing a social media strategy, you should probably start with a Facebook profile for your business. But the waters below the surface layer tend to get a bit murkier, which isn’t to say that there aren’t fish there because there are. There are many different networks to fish in, with different strategies for hooking customers in each one. For example, Vine is a network targeted for mobile use that leverages short video clips in the same way that Instagram promotes photos (and now videos as well). Through Vine, you can highlight very quickly and concisely what sets you apart from your competition—whether it’s your pizza-baking process, your multiple beer taps, your new special pizza and discount offers. It’s a way to give potential customers vital information and a reason to come dine with you sooner rather than later.
At Farrelli’s we mostly fish where the fish are, but the fun part of employing a social media strategy is fishing in new networks and trying new strategies. The bait you choose is key, and I will be going over offers and tactics we’ve used at Farrelli’s in my seminar on social media at Pizza Expo in March.
Keep in mind that these are social networks not advertising networks. If you’re only advertising on social sites, no matter how hard you try or how long you sit, the customers won’t bite. We’ve seen our best social networking results when we simply try to stay connected with our fan base. We do so with fun photos and clever messaging that encourages interaction on their behalf. Our aim is to engage our audience, not snare them.
We know that they might not be hungry in that instant, but if we do a good job of staying present in their lives when they are outside our four walls, then there is a very high likelihood that they will visit us the next time they are in the mood for pizza. That ladies and gentlemen is strategic fishing.
An early adopter to digital marketing, Clayton Krueger is the director of marketing and communications for seven-unit Farrelli’s Wood Fire Pizza in Tacoma, Wash. He is a regular Pizza Expo speaker and an authority on pizzeria marketing plans.
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