A picture says a thousand words—and these days it can also be a $1,000 marketing opportunity.
It used to be that a restaurant reviewer told the general public about your restaurant, but increasingly, that information is coming from a consumer’s trusted group of friends and acquaintances who are writing about—and even more frequently, photographing—your food, your décor, and themselves enjoying it all.
And with the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook two weeks ago, pictures are only going to get more attention. In fact, according to reports, in the 10 days since the acquisition, Instagram users grew by around 10 million people worldwide—that’s a total of more than a million new users every day.
But with all these sites, and all of your customers, how do you keep track of who’s posting photographs of your restaurant?
Enter VenueSeen, which launched last week and which monitors all the publicly available photography that’s shared through the four websites above—Instagram, Facebook, Foursquare and Foodspotting. The site sends restaurants real time notifications (via email, but text alerts are coming soon) every time a new photo is uploaded.
“Specifically we monitor the photos that include tagging of the location to it,” says Brian Zuercher, CEO of VenueSeen. “We’re not interested in random photos, just those where being in a specific place is important to a photo.”
These photographs can then become free marketing for a restaurant. Operators can then take that photo, or conversation with a photo, and use it via their own social media sites.
The only cost is the monthly fee to use VenueSeen—$20 a month for a single restaurant location, and $40 for five locations or more, with costs increasingly gradually, along with the number of restaurants in a chain.
Each account can be customized and any number of people in a restaurant operation—a single person or a large group—can receive alerts about the photographs. VenueSeen also offers a 14-day free trial “so restaurants can get a feel for how much content they get and are missing,” Zuercher explains.
“The online conversation is so important to how restaurants are perceived by others,” says Dave Gonynor, CEO of That’s Biz, a restaurant marketing company based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
“Word of mouth travels faster and the impact can be felt longer because these ‘conversations’ are being captured on social media.”
These images always conjure up good feelings among friends, he adds. “When a restaurant venue is prominently featured [restaurants] can share in those great feelings through postings on their sites.
“If you are able to share these images on your social media sites it makes your restaurant much more personal. A photo of an appetizer being shared among friends will have a much greater impact that just the description of the appetizer.”
Collating all these images and keeping track of them is not only good for marketing, but also for being aware of what attracts notice in your restaurant operation. It may be the pineapple martini, or the lamb chops, or the vintage bookcase in the corner. But whatever it is, restaurants can become aware of it and capitalize on that part of their business—or that cocktail, that dish—even more.
The recommendations that come via friends’ photos are also trusted—more so than reviews posted by strangers online. According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising—an increase of 18 percent since 2007.
A picture may say a thousand words, but it can also inspire passions, stir memories, and whet appetites. Is there any better form of marketing?
By Amanda Baltazar