A social media strategy is vital to any restaurant brand but what many brands don’t realize is that simply having a national brand social media presence is not enough.
It’s vital for big national restaurant chains to connect more locally with their customers.
This means consumers will feel more connection with the brand and thus leads to increased frequency of visits and increased loyalty.
This was the message from Peter Heffring, CEO of Expion, a social media management software company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, who spoke in a webinar this morning, “Social Media: National Brands with Local Engagement.”
“It’s not enough to simply have one Facebook page, Twitter account or other social media site that only links to your corporate brand. What restaurants need to do, Heffring says, is offer local sites.
The example he used was Applebee’s, which has a hub site for its corporate brand and spokes (he compared them to the spokes of a wheel) out to each of its local restaurants. This way, a customers who have a positive or negative experience at that restaurant can report it directly to the restaurant. Or they can simply connect directly with a local restaurant they enjoy eating at.
“The brand can send marketing messages down and leverage the power of the local page, which has much more active engagement,” Heffring points out. “And likewise, the brand can take the work done at the local level and look for the hidden gems and cascade that to all the other local brands.”
Having this kind of social media strategy creates much more active engagement. Of the more than 1,000 brands that Expion looked into, the hub pages had 1 percent or less of its fans actively engaged. However, when it looked at local brands (the spokes) that engagement jumped to between 10 percent and a massive 85 percent.
“So the hub and spoke works really well if you take your national message and pass it down on the local level,” Heffring says.
Local pages lead to a brand being more relevant to its customer base, he adds, but they also provide invaluable information for the brand itself.
“Your market intelligence is better—you’ll get better feedback on your product and your service and find out any issues you have [on the local pages].
And only that, he says, employees in the local stores who are responsible for monitoring the local social networking will own that customer relationship “so will have a better and stronger relationship with those customers.”
And while the local (spoke) pages are essential for the brand hub, the latter is also true.
“It’s key to have a corporate page that governs the entire social media strategy,” Heffring says. “Plus, any great ideas that are passed from local sites to the corporate hub can then be redistributed from the hub to all other local sites.”
Also important, says Heffring:
- Monitor all conversations
- Have videos and images be approved so they don’t go directly out to the consumer
- Store everything, even information that’s been deleted
- Provide pre-approved content to the spokes so there’s a consistent messaging coming from the brand.
- Have an alert system in place from customer posts
- Be able to easily route customer complaints/negative comments to the correct person
- Have a dashboard and metrics in place to monitor each spoke in case they need help and to monitor which ones are doing a good job.
By Amanda Baltazar