Getting social

One great aspect of our industry is that it’s actually doing great in the current economy. Pizza remains a reasonably priced and nutritious meal, far better than most fast-food fare. But the age-old question remains: How do I get new customers and stay in contact with current patrons?

Facebook Facts

Facebook started out as a way to acquaint people when they arrived at college, but it has grown into a different tool, with many people using it as a mini website to promote thoughts, pictures and the like. You can think of it as a virtual scrapbook. Besides setting up a Facebook profile, did you realize that you can also advertise on the site?

Facebook is unique in that you can advertise to an exact ZIP code or advertise according to keywords. Google attempts to approximate it but relies on the IP address of your machine. Facebook instead uses the profiles of the member, along with the pure geographical aspect; you can also consider other factors, including gender, age, education level or employment. This flexibility is a big plus in advertising; it allows exact targeting. If you wanted, you could choose to advertise only to people who live in a particular area and happen to be single. Perhaps you could use this targeting when hosting a singles night at your restaurant or a special on a personal-size pizza. Do you want to target the local high school students in your city? It’s doable. 

Usually, when you advertise, you use the same ad; with this degree of flexibility, the ad itself can be targeted with the keyword. Each may have a different ad depending on the target. You can choose by impressions or by clickthrough (the latter would be effective only if you had a website). You can also tie in your ads with events or social actions on Facebook.

The process: Go to facebook.com/advertising/ and click on “Create an Ad.” You’ll then select a website address you want to direct them to (this might be your restaurant website or your profile page on Facebook). 

Selecting your title or headline is very important; it is a call to action. “Hot Pizza” may not compel viewers to click on your ad. Also, avoid superlatives such as “Best Pizza in Town” unless you won an award from an impartial panel. You are limited to 25 characters. An effective title makes the difference. Make sure your description also entices readers to click on your ad.

Understanding Twitter

Twitter started as a simple means to let friends know what you are doing at that moment. It then took off in a different direction. People started to use it as a platform to tell others what they like or dislike. 

To use Twitter, you simply sign up at twitter.com. Then you search for topics of interest and follow people who “tweet” on those topics. In turn, some of those people may follow you. As an operator, you may want to tweet coupons or specials. Perhaps the customer has to come in within one hour with a password. Tweeting really takes off when people retweet your message. That means they feel it is important enough to tell their followers your message.

Your first step after setting up your account is to follow people in your area. You can start by seeing if the local chamber of commerce or other community groups have Twitter accounts. Search for names of local companies, schools or leading citizens. Then follow them. 

You have the ability to follow other people through those whom you already follow—and vice versa. Confused? Say you choose to follow Sam, a town bigwig, on Twitter. Sam has 500 people who follow him. These 500 people are from your town, so you then follow them. They get notified that they now have you as a follower. They can then choose to follow you. By now, you may have added a couple hundred followers. You then repeat the process with each person who follows you. Now when you tweet, your message goes out to many people—and, as I said, they may retweet your message. 

People also use Twitter to ask advice, like where to go on a first date or who can cater a party. You can use Twitter-based tools to search for those keywords. You can respond to the request with a coupon or a suggestion, or just good advice.

Keep in mind that you can connect your Facebook to Twitter, so you have to post in only one place. Think about it: The most effective advertising will always be word of mouth, and sites such as Twitter and Facebook virtualize this on the Internet. With the ability to add these social networks to a cell phone, you now have a market ready to listen.

Scott Wolpow is the president of Netalytical and has been involved with the Internet since 1995. Email Scott at pmq@scottwolpow.com.