Pinterest is the newest marketing tool for restaurant operators.
Just as we were all getting to grips with using Facebook and Twitter, there’s a new social media site to learn, but don’t worry, this one’s pretty easy.
It’s exactly what it sounds like—a virtual pinboard. And unlike Facebook and Twitter, which are largely and exclusively text-based social media sites, Pinterest is all about images.
The site allows users to share photos through different themes such as food, sports, and clothing. Each user’s site is intended to share passions and ideas. For restaurants it’s a free marketing tool and a great opportunity to connect with customers.
And interest in the site is growing. According to market research company comScore, 20.5 million unique visitors used Pinterest in June, up from 7.5 million just six months before, in December 2011. ComScore also points out that women account for 67 percent of the Pinterest audience, but 89 percent of content consumed on the site.
Dallas-based Genghis Grill has been using Pinterest since the beginning of the year, and its boards include Genghis Khan (depicting photos of the man himself); Traveling the World, which relates to making any type of cuisine at Genghis Grill; Inspiring Food Recipes; Inspiring Drink Recipes; and Unique Ingredients.
“These boards all tie into our brand perfectly,” says Chiara Granado, Genghis Grill’s social media coordinator.
“By looking at recipe photos and photos that relate to family life, art and creativity, fans can connect with us in more ways than just our food. When they see a travel photo of Mongolia, we hope to be at the top of mind when looking at photos,” chief marketing officer Ron Parikh explains.
Genghis Grill now has between 100 and 120 followers on the site.
“We use Pinterest to help generate buzz and visual communication, Granado says. “We want everyday images to be related to our brand so we use Pinterest to inspire new recipes, new limited time offers, new marketing campaigns and just an overall look on how we and our fans perceive our brand.”
Granado spends time looking for mentions of Genghis Grill by other users of the site then “repinning” their pins, and repins on average five times a day.
“I repin a lot so I can engage with our fans,” she says, adding that doing so also acknowledges to consumers that the chain appreciates them.
This engagement is essential, she explains. “We are able to tap into the minds of fans on a more creative level rather than just direct messaging. It's a fun and growing channel for us.”
Granado also pins photos of the chain’s dishes, drinks, events such as kids eat free days, LTOs, and fundraising. “We also post other images that might relate to our brand, such as colors, creative art,” Granado adds. Recently she read of a female fan’s hope that she could have a Genghis Grill bowl and Granado sent her one.
But perhaps most importantly, Pinterest fits the Genghis Grill brand.
“People are becoming chefs at home and that’s what our restaurant is about,” Parikh says. “People are their own chef and we just cook it for them. I think [Pinterest is] going to be the next wave and a picture speaks 1000 words.”
Parikh adds: “From a branding standpoint it helps. Connecting with the customer is a marathon and not a sprint.”
The Pinterest site says its goal is “to connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting.”
Here are some tips from Genghis Grill for using Pinterest:
- Pin photos that will start a visual conversation, so show photos of farmers for example, if you serve up fresh veggies.
- Everything you post must be relevant to your brand.
- Let anyone post to your board. This allows you to engage more with your customers and may even provide you with new ideas for marketing or menu items. Monitor pins by other people to guard against profanity, abuse, etc.
- Let other Pinterest users know that you are interested in them and they might help increase traffic to your boards. For example, Genghis Grill might use the search function to look for ‘Mongolian food.’
By Amanda Baltazar