By brand advocacy, he’s talking about all those foodie photos on Instagram, and the tweets and Facebook posts that give a shout-out to whatever restaurant the consumer happens to be chatting up. “Brands like Silver Diner are using us because it would be crazy for loyalty marketers to ignore this channel and not to recognize and reward the positive behaviors that consumers are taking on social media,” he says.
Silver Diner Strikes Gold
At Silver Diner, the upscale American brasserie dishing up healthy diner food, senior marketing manager Joe Howell explains that engaging diners on social media helps the brand remain relevant with customers even when they aren’t in the restaurant. It also enables the restaurant to give diners rewards that encourage future visits, helps it acquire new customers, and provides “valuable customer data.”
The way the technology works is pretty simple: The restaurant identifies the kinds of social media activities it wants to “listen” for, and the Chirpify platform conducts marketing automation based on those triggers. “When you talk about marketing on a one-to-one basis, but at scale, our platform sets up the listening triggers—like a photo upload, a hash-tag post, someone sharing a URL to the restaurant’s menu, or someone tagging a friend at a specific diner location—and then it automatically responds to those people,” Teso says.
On any given night, if 10,000 people post a selfie from the restaurant of a multi-unit brand, the platform is going to respond to all 10,000 with whatever message or reward that brand wants to extend. The responses are instantaneous and, to some extent, individualized, based on the criteria defined for that person.
At the precise moment that a person uploads her selfie, the platform responds. If the guest is part of the restaurant’s loyalty program, she gets one response; if she’s posting about her dining experience but is not a loyalty member, then she gets another response—likely with an invitation and link to join the loyalty program.
In the restaurant industry, where brands are looking to acquire new customers into their loyalty program, Teso notes that loyalty marketing for social media advocacy is a natural extension of customer outreach. “If I see that my friend is sharing a Silver Diner [moment] on social media and being rewarded by Silver Diner for sharing it, I’m much more likely to join that restaurant’s loyalty program,” he says. “We don’t really change consumer behavior; we’re leveraging what they’re doing and rewarding that.”
Although automated, responses can still contain smart and intuitive communications based on whatever rules the restaurant has established. For instance, a rule could be geo-specific, so the restaurant may respond differently to people based on the restaurant location. Or the restaurant can establish rules to respond differently to someone who has more than 1,000 followers than to someone who has 100.
“You could also change the communications based on the frequency and the economy,” Teso explains, “so you could establish rules that say a member can only earn 1,000 points in a month, or they have to take action five times before they get a response. It’s a really smart platform that can reward people differently based on different criteria.”
For loyalty members, responses often deliver via email or private message; nonmembers receive a public comment on their photo or message. Private or public, all communications are branded to the restaurant.
In addition to the automated response mode, the platform also enables restaurants to moderate the social brand advocacy via a dashboard and insert human interaction into the responses. For instance, this is usually done if the restaurant wants to host a campaign, like a photo contest, and choose winners.
Spontaneous Combustion—In A Good Way
“One-to-one marketing with customers is a rapidly growing trend in the restaurant space, and [how] to enable that through loyalty applications is a very important part of what restaurants are trying to decide today,” says Don Zimmerman, vice president of hospitality solutions at NCR. One-to-one loyalty marketing has been around longer in traditional retail, but “it’s emerging rapidly in the restaurant space because consumers want to be interacted with on their terms, and restaurants can only do that by knowing as much as they can about the consumer and the business each consumer does with the restaurant.”
It’s a trend whose time is now, and technology solutions that empower restaurants to learn more details about their customers and achieve that intimate one-on-one dialogue are surging. Last month, Oracle introduced its Data Science Cloud Services, which includes two cloud-driven solutions—one for Menu Recommendations and another for Adaptive Forecasts. In particular, Data Science for Menu Recommendations will empower restaurants to engage more intelligently with their guests, enabling them to improve up-sell and cross-sell opportunities with recommendations that dynamically update based on customer behavior.