As restaurants ramp up their social media programs, operators typically consider the most popular platforms—Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest—to connect with consumers. But Billy Dec, founder and chief executive at Chicago-based Rockit Ranch Productions, has added another social media arrow to his overall marketing quiver: Snapchat.
“What is most exciting and most powerful is when Snapchat allows you to get a real closeness with how a certain brand and lifestyle plays out,” he says. “This is a really interesting way for our followers on Snapchat to experience [our brand].”
Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send pictures or 10-second videos, complete with a caption or graphic—and these “snaps” vanish after being viewed. While Rockit Ranch still posts photos on Facebook, Snapchat takes imagery to the next level. “You can take these swipes of life and share organic and fluid moments,” Dec says. The process provides a more in-depth connection, he adds, particularly since the snaps can be added to a collection of photos or videos, creating a “story.”
This is just the latest phase of mobile social media and visual communication, asserts Daniel Black, founder and chief executive of Glass-Media, a Dallas-based digital solutions company. “We all went to phones, then we had the ability to text, then imagery, and now it’s all about video,” he says. The responsibility is on restaurant operators, however, to make the connection and engage consumers. “It’s their job to come up with compelling content to pull in these people, not vice versa,” Black says.
Dec is the driving force behind Snapchat at Rockit Ranch. He had used the social media platform personally, and began integrating the company’s concepts—Bottlefork, The Duck Inn, Rockit Bar & Grill, Rockit Burger Bar, Sunda New Asian, and The Underground—into stories.
“Take a night out at Sunda,” he says. “I could take a shot of a bustling room, then a tight shot of the sushi chef rolling a precise sushi roll, then a shot of searing Kobe beef, cutting to the front of the house, a wide shot—it’s very cinematic.”
You never know the stories his snaps may tell: One shows him with actor Johnny Galecki, of “The Big Bang Theory,” at a Chicago Cubs game near Rockit Burger Bar. Another, of a fashion show at The Underground, includes a surprise visit by singer Justin Bieber.
Recently, Rockit Ranch’s marketing team trained managers at each location to use Snapchat, teaching them how to tell the story of the brand. “We’re trying to close the gap between what we offer and the guest,” Dec says.