The 311 — Food Tweets & Treats

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Given my interest in food and professional persona as the Web Chef (@thewebchef), I though it only appropriate to contribute to the conversation on how restaurants, food purveyors and other retailers can put Twitter to use. The topic is timely as evidenced by the "Social Media 101" session on the menu for the Wisconsin Restaurant Association's Expo 2010 Tech Training on March 9th. As a supplement to the 101 session and as tips for many types of businesses, here's a Twitter 311, covering 5 key areas for using Twitter in your social media mix.

 

1. Your Twitter Account

  • If you haven't already done so, sign up for a Twitter account with a user name as close to your brand name as possible (ex: @BrasserieV, @HarvestRest)
  • If you have multiple locations or are a supplier to other businesses think carefully about how to present your business (ex: @AncoraCoffee and Ancorra Fitchburg @AncorraFitchburg)
  • Watch out for closely aligning brand/username with an employee's name, he or she could leave the company
  • If you have a logo upload it into your Twitter profile
  • Link to your Web site in your Twitter profile
  • Include your location and a description of your business
  • Customize your Twitter background with photos from your business or some other distinct brand imagery (ex: @bartolottas)

2. Promoting your Twitter Account and Building Your Followers

  • Follow people covering food (see some Wisconsind-based suggestions later on)
  • Track and reply to those tweeting about your business
  • Follow and Direct Message (DM) thanks to those who follow you
  • Thank those who tweet about your business (if it is good news) and Re-Tweet (RT) their message
  • Follow-up about negative tweets about your business
  • Offer special bonuses or offers for those following your business
  • Offer bonuses to those who Tweet about your business (ex: @HuHotmadison)


     

  • Make sure you are on lists that cover your business, follow the list owner and ask to be added to lists
  • Include the Twitter logo and link to your Twitter account on your Web site
  • Include a Twitter feed especially if there is activity with your Twitter account (ex: AJBombers)


     

  • Include your Twitter name on menus, placemats, napkins, coffee cups and other items
  • Consider working with a marketing service like FourSquare Labs (ex: FourSquare Labs is working with @AJBombers, a Milwaukee-based burger joint according to the Wall Street Journal, "Services Combine Social Media, Marketing" (subscription required to read article), 2/23/10.

    "Users visit the FourSquare Web site to download a free mobile-phone application for a participating merchant. When customers visit the participating establishment …, they can "check-in" via the mobile application, letting their friends know where they are and racking up possible points with the merchant.

    "A.J. Bombers joined up with FourSquare last summer by promising a free burger and fries to anyone who dethroned its "mayor" — a title FourSquare bestows on the person who "checks in" to an establishment the most via the mobile application … AJ co-owner Jo Sorge says sales of menu items promoted on FourSquare have risen roughly 30% since the restaurant began using the service."


3. Your Twitter Management & Content Strategy

  • Commit to at least 2 — 3 tweets per week
  • Re-tweet those who have a larger follower base
  • Re-tweet relevant mainstream media stories like @captimes, @WIStateJournal, @IBMadison)
  • Set-up an editorial calendar based on Tweeting topics
  • Consider using a tool like HootSuite that allows you to efficiently pre-schedule your tweets, shorten URLs and select a user if you have multiple accounts

4. What to tweet about?

  • Special limited time promotions — giveaways, special meals ex: @BrasserieV


     

  • Menus of the Day or Week
  • New menu items
  • Events of Interest to the Community — Performing arts, visual arts, other events of interest, especially if they are near your business, the tweet can help build your traffic
  • Community Service Activities — volunteer opportunities, business donations, benefits of involvement in the community
  • People Recognition — staff, customers, community
  • Special Day — Real and Manufactured Days: Halloween, Margarita Day, President's Day
  • Hours (usual, extended or times closed)
  • Where you'll be (for food carts or food shows)
  • Special acknowledgement of local ingredient suppliers (include their Twitter account)
  • Meet & greet with wine, beverage food purveyors
  • If you're an ethnic or specialty food restaurant tweets about the country of origin or you food specialty including events, history, terminology, food ingredients
  • Entertainment your hosting
  • Government actions impacting your business (pro & con)
  • Travel & Parking Tips
  • Help connect your followers/customers with others (ex:@streetzapizza tweeted the following:

5. Monitor & Respond to What's Being Said

  • Set up a keyword search on relevant words like your company name or other terms that might provide insights
  • Respond and acknowledge positive tweets by others
  • Develop a strategy to respond to negative tweets
  • Look beyond Twitter to Yelp, Zagat or TripAdvisor for feedback on your business
    See my earlier blog posting "What's the Buzz Tell Me What's a Happening" for more information and suggestions on brand monitoring techniques and resources.

Who's Tweeting in Madison and Milwaukee?
In developing this article, I was curious to see what various restaurants in Milwaukee and Madison were doing in terms of their Twitter strategies and tactics. You can follow all of the accounts referenced in this article by following my Twitter list compiled at one of my four Twitter accounts @Connecting_Dots

Restaurants
Madison: @Barriques, @BrasserieV, @CupCakes_a_gogo, @Georgeschophous, @HarvestRest, @iansonfrancis, @inkaheritage, @LilianaTweets, @marigoldmadison, @TalulaMadison, @theOldFashioned, @TheRomanCandle

Milwaukee: @AJBombers, @Bartolattas, @FratellosMKE, @KilawatCuising, @MariasPizzaria, @RusticoPizzeria, @StreetzaPizza, @TheWickedHop, @zTrocadero

Chefs on Twitter
Madison: @WearyChefJoey (Chef at Weary Traveler)

Milwaukee: @ChefFeker (Chef at Il Mito Restaurant in Wauwatosa)

Who's covering food and restaurants?
Madison: @Dane101, @EatDrinkMadison, @FringeFoods, @MadCityEats, @MadisonAtoZ, @MadisonFood, @MadisonFoodie, @MadisonDining,

Milwaukee: @YourMKEDining, @DiginMKE, @MKEFoodTour, @MilwaukeeFoodie, @MilwaukeeScoop, @SlowFoodWise

Wisconsin: @EatWisconsin, @GreatLakeFoodie, @Trusted_Wis, @WisconsinFoodie, @WIRestaurantReviews

Want to find out more about the latest topics, trends and insights on e-business, marketing and social media? You can follow me @ theWebChef.

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