Social media immediacy hard to beat

Articles
September 30, 2009

Social media immediacy hard to beat

Restaurants and grocers that built their online presence with websites may have thought their heavy lifting was done, and that regular content updates would suffice. But the social media phenomenon says differently.

Restaurants and grocers that built their online presence with websites may have thought their heavy lifting was done, and that regular content updates would suffice. But the social media phenomenon says differently.

The winners in the battle for customer traffic will be those who bring a sense of immediacy, savings and satisfaction to audiences that are very much connected and highly responsive to motivating messages. In Orange County, California, for instance, Baja Fresh promoted a one-day free burrito offer on Facebook, which migrated to Twitter and various food blogs, according to an account in the Orange County Register. By two o’clock that afternoon, demand for 50,000 burritos far exceeded the 1,800 the chain planned to dispense, and it issued an apology.

Also within this market, many kinds of eateries promote on Twitter, and they sometimes generate a near-immediate response. From a secret word for a free cupcake, to other contests and deals, people pay attention to Tweets, as long as the eatery keeps the dialogue fresh. 

Because restaurateurs are busy around the clock already, some hire publicists to keep feeding the social media engine. This outreach is partly recession-driven, we believe at SupermarketGuru.com, since eateries want the patrons and the public wants good food for less. But it’s clear that social media are becoming an increasingly powerful way to communicate. In May 2009, the year-over-year gain in the unique audience of Twitter was 1,448% and reached nearly 20 million visitors.

Although the unique visitor count to MySpace fell 10% to 55 million in the same time frame, FaceBook bounded ahead by 190% to about 77 million unique visitors, and YouTube rolled to a 17% gain to 80 million, according to a recent SupermarketGuru/Nielsen presentation for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The cumulative effect: for the first time in 2009, time spent on social networking exceeded that of time spent on e-mail, the data showed.

The key question becomes ‘where will you be in social networking in 2009-2010.’  Eateries scrambling to survive are gaining some traction, traffic and positive buzz by being resourceful in the online world.  Supermarkets can be equally effective, say, by Tweeting commuters on the homebound train with fresh, value prepared-dinner ideas, or with specials on party favorites for the weekend, or that hot new health beverage with antioxidants.