As with many trends, there’s always an axis in the bell curve of popularity. So it goes with social media; although that axis has yet to appear. When it first arrived on the marketing scene, social media was seen as a “God send” for the struggling restaurant industry. From the biggest to the smallest, restaurant chains to mobile food trucks embraced social media like no other market sector.
But has it really worked?
Here’s an interesting review of the effectiveness for social media from Nation’s Restaurant News. The publication asked both restaurants and consumers about their engagement in social media. The magazine basically focused on Facebook and Twitter – the two most commonly used social media platforms in the industry today. What they discovered was more than enlightening.
- Although 61% of restaurants said they were actively on Facebook, only 8% of consumers said they ever follow restaurants via Facebook.
- 78% of restaurants planned to use Facebook even more in the next 6 months to market themselves, but a mere 15% of consumers said they planned to “like” and follow restaurants.
- Although 53% of restaurants say they currently use Twitter to market themselves, only 3% of consumers say they follow any restaurants on Twitter.
- While 66% of restaurants say they plan to use Twitter more in the next 6 months, just 9% of consumers say they will use Twitter more to follow restaurants.
So the trend here is that restaurants may see social media as an inexpensive, effective way to market themselves, but the market they seek may not be there. What may be most concerning in this trend is that, even in these difficult economic conditions, restaurant owners may not be investigating other affordable alternatives to their marketing mix – with hopes that social media will “save the day”. Clearly, they may be betting on a trend that may not prove effective for them in the long run.
I believe that in time, social media’s wild enthusiasm will give way to the hysteria – and we’ll return to a more balanced perspective of how to find, engage, and attract consumers for restaurants – and other brands.
Perhaps, just in time for the iAd craze to start.