Are Clients Running Away From Your Website?

By: Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

Firms that are taking advantage of generating leads online have got the right idea. In fact, businesses that prompt at least 40 percent of their leads online grow four times faster and those that generate at least 60 percent are twice as profitable.

Is your business getting a good amount of leads? Are you catering to your website as well as you should be? Two more pressing questions come to mind when building and managing your website: 

1. Are you bringing in traffic to your website?

2. Does your website have credibility?

People can usually tell by your website if your business has a good reputation by its visibility. When we’re talking about your website, ignore the popular metaphorical phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” because in this case image is everything.  

Bring in that traffic.

This process does not have to be a costly one. You don’t need to pay a ton of money for advertising,  nor do you need to outplay Google, which can actually backfire.

When you drive traffic to your website, you’re raising awareness for your business and you can do just that by posting content that clearly demonstrates your company as a leader in your industry. Be careful with your keyword selection. Don’t be so broad -- get specific. Use long-tailed keywords and make sure your posts include all the relevant terms and phrases related to your topic. This way, when clients search for the expertise and service that you provide, they will land on your website. This also avoids leads that aren’t qualified.

You can also drive traffic to your website by providing content about your clients' and potential clients’ comments. This will then heightened the chances of your website being found and also urge searchers to contact you for more information. Let them do the advertising for you! And don’t forget to post your site’s content on social media accounts and mention influencers to get more clicks!

You brought in that traffic now don’t scare them away.

Once you get people to your website, you want them to stay. Searchers will get bored and ditch your site if they can’t find the information they’re seeking quickly. You don’t want potential clients to have to spend a lot of a time understanding your website. Get organized! About 80 percent of buyers look at a firm’s website before making any purchases.

There’s a rule of 7 seconds by web developers. This is how long someone should at least stay on a website, and most consumers make a decision about a company within 5-7 seconds. If the website makes a good impression during those seconds, the searcher will most likely stay on to read more.

Your job may consist of targeting to consumers, however in your daily life, you also have the role of a buyer. When you go look at your website, think like a buyer. What’s your first impression? Would you do business with your company? Be objective and also ask for other outside opinions.

They stuck around. Now let your content build that trust!

Make sure you clearly communicate what you can do to help. Why is your product or service the best? Don’t be so modest. Show Off your expertise! Make people excited to work with you just by reading your content. You don’t want searchers to feel like they’re gambling if they choose to be a buyer.

You can get personal through your blogs, articles, presentations and digitally-displayed work. This is when you realize how much power your website has. If you’re a restaurant someone has never heard of, they go to your website to check out your menu. If your website is not appealing then your food probably isn’t, either. If you’re a beauty salon, people go to your website to check out the services you provide and what products you use. If your website isn’t pretty, a consumer will not expect you to make them look pretty, either.

Good website hygiene is everything. You only get one chance for a first impression. Make it a good one. Read More


Food Photography 101

By: Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

When it comes to the restaurant industry, and when done properly, food photography can be a major asset. It’s the customer's first chance to see your food, even before entering the restaurant. Want to make a good, digital first impression? Try out these basic food photography tips to boost your digital marketing!

Keep it Clean

You want to showcase the food, so having a background full of clutter will only distract the eye from the main point of focus. Have a color contrast between the food and the background to make the dish pop. If all else fails, stick to a white background. 

Use Natural Lighting

Use natural light whenever possible. It not only helps to bring out the beauty and the colors of the food, but it can also help avoid the harsh look a flash can cause. During the day time, try to shoot near a window or door. 

Details, Details, Details!

Don’t disregard the small stuff! Plate each dish to perfection. You want your pictures to be clean, and simple, but food is an art and you want to show that through your photography. Be visually appealing! 

Get Up Close and Personal

Switch up your pictures by getting some macro shots. Not only will this bring out the textures and the features of the dish, but can also make it more interesting for the viewer. Don’t be afraid to get too close. Zoom will be your best friend when practicing this technique.

Get Every Angle

Getting a variety of angles will give you much more to work with once your shoot is over. Play around a bird's eye view or side view until you find the creative look to show off the dish's best feature.  

Use Props

Don’t be afraid to jazz up your set. A bottle of wine is a great prop to use when shooting a steak. Try a tall beer with your pizza. But err on the side of caution! Too many props can distract from the dish. 

Want to learn more about how to select the best images for social media, website ads and other promos? Read more here.

Using Instagram Tools to Promote your Business


By Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

One would be surprised at how many marketers actually use Instagram. You would think it is the obvious, perfect space for free advertising. However, only 28 percent utilize this social platform. That means 72 percent are missing out on the endless possibilities the app has to offer. Here are nine Instagram apps and tools that can help marketers use Instagram to its fullest potential, whether it is to convert followers into customers, monitor analytics and more. 

1. Flipagram

This app allows you to create a photo slideshow called a “photo video story.” Using this method allows followers to look at a brand’s products without having to go through individual photos manually. Followers will see more products in seconds, ultimately increasing chances for a follower to want to buy something. It’s a perfect way to show a brand’s new collection! Shopping just got more fun. (Didn’t know that was possible). And at no cost for the app, why not use it to your business' advantage?

2. Repost

Sixty-five percent of Instagram users feel honored when a brand mentions them or reposts their content. Brands and businesses can use Repost to show their appreciation for their followers and customers. It’s a great way to engage and stay personal. Repost is a suitable app to show user-generated content (UGC) and at the same time make followers feel special. All you have to do is browse your feed or search for a specific user or hashtag. Once you find the photo or video you want to repost, click on it and press “repost.” Celebrities also use these technique to stay connected with their fans. This app is also free!

3. Like2buy

Social media is a powerful tool in today’s marketing world. Nearly four out of five consumers (78 percent) make purchases based on a brand’s social media content. You already know that you can include a link to your business's website in the bio. However, Like2buy makes things even more interesting. The app creates a link for marketers to put in their bio. With this link, followers can access the brand’s feature products. It’s that easy. In just a few clicks, a consumer can start buying on Instagram. NastyGal and Forever21 have already paved the Like2buy path! Join the ranks with this cool download.

4. Layout

Layout is Instagram’s collage app. You can combine up to nine photos in one image, making the struggle of combining photos an easy process. You can select your photos from three places: camera roll, recent photos or faces, the latter populating photos from your roll that feature people. You can also edit the collage with options such as mirroring, flipping, resizing and rearranging. It also has a photo booth feature where you can snap up to four photos in a row. If you’re a real estate agent you can make a collage of properties for sale. If you own a beauty salon, you can make a collage of the latest hairstyles and nails of the season. Any business can use this tool and get creative with it, all without a cost.

5. Pixlr

Lighter images get 24 percent more likes than dark images. For those dark images, this free app gives you options to edit them. Features include taking photos within the app, 100+ effects, 280 overlays and 200 types of borders.

There other cool photo editing tools marketers can use since everyone has their preferences. There’s Adobe Photoshop Express, which is basically a mini version of Photoshop for your phone. There’s Camera+ which is not just a photo editing app, but also for taking photos with a 6x zoom and built+in stabilizer. Another app is the VSCO Cam for the minimalists, where you can also follow other people’s images.

6. ScheduGram

You can plan ahead with ScheduGram. The app allows you to schedule your publishing on Instagram. But what makes the app different from other Instagram scheduling tools is that it actually posts the visual to Instagram for you, instead of just reminding you to post it yourself. If you have more than one account to manage, the app also lets you manage multiple accounts and collaborate with other users. This tool is great for time management. The app also has basic photo-editing features. Plans for this tool start at $20 a month.

7. Wishpond Instagram Contest

The Wishpond Instagram contest app collects Instagram photos and displays them in a voting album on your Facebook Page or website. People submit their photos from Instagram and vote on their favorites. Seventy percent of Instagram users are willing to participate on Instagram contests. These events invite engagement with your followers and email leads. It’s a fun way to get your business noticed and encourages your current followers to stay. There are many creative types of ways to use this app for a contest. The plan starts at $69.

8. Iconosquare

Managing social media analytics can be a handful. Iconosquare is an in-depth Instagram analytics tool for marketers. It allows you to keep track of likes, comments, followers and messages all on one dashboard. It also offers comparative growth statistics that can help you increase followers. Best of all? It's free!

9. Over

Over is an app created for the seriously creative poster. With this app, users can add text and artwork to photos with standard and custom-made fonts and original artwork. Quick and easy graphics! If users prefer using their own fonts, they can also upload them into the app, which is available for use for $3.99.

And don’t forget Instagram now offers Landscape and Portrait photo options. You no longer have to make your photos square ready. So now that you’re an Instagram genius, what are you waiting for? Get to work. Read More


What You Need to Know About Facebook

By: Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

Facebook has grown to be the biggest social network used today. With more than 1.15 billion users globally, the site has become a dream for any marketer. Through Facebook, you have the ability to know an individual's hobbies, likes, dislikes and more. All the information is based on things the user shares, posts or likes, straight from the horse's mouth.

As a restaurant owner or operator, there are many platforms to create your brand's social presence, from Instagram to Twitter. While all channels are recommended, we are going to start with Facebook. This is the beginning of your online presence and a key way to interact with customers. Facebook is also a great place to promote promotions, showcase your most appealing dishes and give the public a glimpse into your restaurant.

Facebook is more than just responding to comments and posting daily. In order to reap the full benefits Facebook has to offer, you must be willing to work for it. Below we have some tips to help you get the most out of your social media pages.

Take your page to the next level

Do you utilize your offer tab? Along with a menu tab, restaurant pages can showcase exclusive Facebook specials for followers, who can then redeem those offers in-store. This not only entices people to keep up with your Facebook page (since they never know when the promotions will come) but also allows you to give back to your customers. Page managerscan also 'pin' these specials to the top of the page! Pair it with a great photo and draw the audience in. 

Another side tip: Try connecting your restaurant's Facebook and Instagram accounts to share photos on both platforms.


Facebook is a great tool when used correctly. Always keep posts relevant and interesting to your customers, don’t be afraid to “over-post’ and make sure all of your social channels are parallel. Last but not least, have fun with it! Facebook is meant to be social, so don’t be afraid talk to  engage and ask questions! You never know what you could learn from your customers.

Read more here.


Time for a Professional Makeover: Using LinkedIn to Your Advantage

By Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

So, you want to share some of your wisdom and boost your presence on LinkedIn. You've already posted a photo and wrote a few things about yourself. Now what? You can drop status updates, right? Sure. But therein lies the problem.

LinkedIn isn’t like Facebook, where a timeline is available to explore all those thoughtful posts you've shared since you've been on LinkedIn. Your older posts get hidden underneath your newer ones. But have no fear!

Last February, LinkedIn gave its members the ability to blog and publish. When you blog, these posts become a permanent part of your professional identity. Here are some ways to establish yourself as a thought leader in your Industry.

You’re not just posting, you’re publishing!

To publish a blog post, click on “home” on the upper-left corner and look for “Publish a post.” This then will take you to LinkedIn’s blogging platform, your personal Neverland where your insightful thoughts never grow old. Knock out a few paragraphs on that article you feel the world should read, and link the rest at the end of your post. It’s that simple.

Don’t just blend in, stand out.

The more you engage with content on LinkedIn and connect with others, the more traffic you’ll bring to your profile. Think high school or college. The more activities and societies you’re involved in, the more you’ll stand out among your peers and more people will want to know who you are.

Don't underestimate LinkedIn.

Many view LinkedIn as an online resume. They don’t see the necessity of having a LinkedIn account if they already have a job. However, the platform gives you the opportunity to connect with other professionals and share more about your company. It allows executives to construct their professional character. This is why it’s important to keep updating your profile. Think of it as your digital shrine with all your trophies put on display, just like the one your mom has at home.   

Show who you really are.

Use your professional name. You may be David, but if your co-workers call you Dave, you should go by Dave. When you choose your job title, combine your profession and your personality. Make it interesting and unique, so people will be drawn into who you're all about. 

Don’t slack on your photo.

It’s not that hard or expensive to get a professional looking photo. The right wardrobe and lighting can make a great picture, even if it's taken by an iPhone.

What do you bring to the table?

Write your bio in first-person. Don’t be afraid to brag. (Being a little “Kanye” doesn’t hurt.) Show examples of your work, projects, good deeds, test scores and more. Remember, it’s your shrine. Let others brag for you as well. Endorsements can help you get more attention.

Look fresh.

Choose an attractive, sophisticated background. The photo you choose can even be related to your profession or upcoming events.

Your profile now has the brains, personality and looks. Once you have your account set up, make sure to include the best contact information. You want to be approachable -- otherwise, all this effort will be all for naught. Read More





How to Deal with Negative Comments On Social Media

By Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

If you haven’t had to deal with negative comments on social media, consider yourself lucky. But with every great brand, there is bound to be someone who has a problem. And that’s where you come in.

Not everyone is going to love your brand -- and that's okay! No matter what challenges come your way through the digital-social landscape, as an account manager, you must be prepared to handle the less-than-glowing remarks people may make.

Here are some simple tips to help you deal with negative comments on social media:

  1. Don’t take it personally. Address the problem with the mindset of representing the brand, not as an individual. Always be professional and courteous. 

  2. Understand the Issue. Read the message once. Twice if you have to! What is the issue? What is the root of the problem? How can you help?

  3. Take a screenshot. You should always document the issue. This is not only helpful for the client, but you can also use this encounter in the future for training purposes, or use this as reference for co-workers who want to follow-up with the incident. 

  4. Don’t Delete. As tempting as this may be for damage control, remaining transparent is key on social media. Deleting a comment will only raise suspicion and give people a reason to think your brand has something to hide. Always face negative comments head-on and publicly.

  5. Don’t wait! Timeliness is important when It comes to negative comments. Unhappy visitors usually want to see a response within one hour of the comment. Putting off a response to a negative reply may only agitate the situation.

  6. Respond. After you've made sure the responses are well thought-out. If you don’t have the correct answer, talk to a team member who does. Responses should be clear, thorough and offer a solution. This may be the first time this customer has had contact with your brand, so you want to make sure the ending experience is a positive one. Always read and re-read your responses, make sure it is something you would feel comfortable saying to a customer's face. Keep in mind good customer service.

  7. Monitor. Continue to monitor your activity to make sure nothing else arises after you have handled the issue.

There are exceptions, of course. It is never wrong to delete a negative comment when it is profane or derogatory. Negative comments come with the territory of being a brand, and while bigger brands may see more negative comments, each comment should be taken seriously and should be addressed. Always be monitoring your pages and always have a plan ready, and remember -- Most people just want to be heard! These comments simply help your brand grow because they bring attention to problems you would have likely not seen. So go out and face them without fear!

Read more here. 

Is This New App The Easiest Way to Connect?

By Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Apparently this new, magical app that swaps social media handles and contact details for you. The Knock Knock app! 

Meeting new people is almost always a pleasant experience. When you’ve discovered a whole new group of friends or a potential romantic partner, the last thing you want to do is spend time on your phone.

Knock Knock app allows people to connect with others and prevents that awkward shuffle between phones everyone dreads at the end of the night.

For the process to work, users simply have to knock on their phone screen twice — hence the clever app name. The knocks work even if their phone isn't directly in front of them. Once someone initiates the connection, other people in the group knock twice on their phones to accept the request. After this is done, people can selectively choose the information they want to share and with who. In a group, users can share their social media handles but can still decide to share their phone numbers with only certain people. 

If Knock Knock-ers are with a large group of friends, they can even create short-term group messaging threads for better communication. But if they're one of the many people who actually cringe at the thought of the constant notifications that come with being trapped in a group chat, the app also allows them to sneak out without anyone knowing. 

The app was created by Humin founders Ankur Jain and David Wyler. It’s also backed up by a group of investors people are pretty familiar with; billionaire Richard Branson, and Sophia Bush. It launched Wednesday, Aug. 19 for both iPhone and Android. It uses Bluetooth, Location Services and Apple’s Beacon technology so users can connect with others without having to unlock their phone. 

The app also reveals other Knock Knock users that are in the same area, whether out on the streets or when walking into a bar or party. Interested strangers can connect at any time! Could this be a new slick way to ask for a stranger’s number at a bar? 

“I knock, you knock and Wa Bam! We’re connected,” Sophia Bush says in video introducing the app. Read More 


Using Snapchat for Your Business

By Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

Snapchat is one of the newest and fastest growing social media platforms to date. The app has generated a lot of buzz because of its ability to share pictures and videos among friends and followers for only seconds before it disappears. Snapchat has made great strides to make the app more business-friendly. One example is the app’s Discovery tab, which allows you to see special Snapchat news updates from different major companies such as CNN and ESPN.

Snapchat has quickly won over the hearts of millennials everywhere because they are able to customize their snapshots with photo filters, digital crayons, location specific geo- filters and more. Many business have started utilizing Snapchat and have seen great success. From McDonald’s creating its own geo-filter for all of its locations, to the more recent "Straight Outta Compton" filter which promoted the movie, this app has been used in innovative ways to change the marketing strategy game. While many brands are testing the waters of Snapchat, there are a few practices to Snapchatting your business' way to success. 

Give a Sneak Peek

Whether you are a restaurant cooking up a new dish, or a toy company working on sketches for the newest toy to come out for christmas design, people love to see what goes on behind- the-scenes of any brand. It gives your audience a glimpse into your company culture and a glimpse into the future of what is to come.  

Empower Your Employees

Not everyone has the time to take videos and photos every five minutes of what your office may be doing -- that’s okay! Delegating your official account to others in the office keeps your Snapchat stories up-to-date, and sharing this responsibility prevents the workload from becoming overwhelming. Assigning a staff member to manage your Snapchat-- not only gives your audience a look into the inner workings of your company, but also allows your staff to have some fun with it, too!

Don’t Be Scripted

Unlike other social media platforms, Snapchat's shelf life for content is only 24 hours. That being said, don’t strive for the perfect magazine ready photo. Photos can be candid, photos don't have to be photoshopped and photos don't have to be flooded with filters and edits. That's the beauty of Snapchat: It doesn't have to be perfect. However, you have to remember that followers can still screenshot photos, so even if your content isn't perfect, it must still represent your brand in all positive light.

Read more about different techniques you can utilizing for Snapchat and your business.

Social Media Makes Film Go Mainstream

"Straight Outta" Meme Generator |

"Straight Outta" Meme Generator |

Everyone is outta somewhere! If you have yet to stumble upon a "Straight Outta" meme, you probably have been completely off the social media grid.   

Thanks to an effective marketing strategy, the rap music biopic "Straight Outa Compton", is gaining an audience beyond the usual hop hop genre fans. The "Straight Outta (Somewhere)" campaign seems to be one that everyone connects with. The meme generator went live on August 5th and has already drawn 4 million fans, most who are not fans of rap music or the N.W.A., who the film is based on. The "Straight Outta" meme is popping up all over various platforms and simultaneously attracting movie-goers who may not have been aware of the film without this marketing push. Celebrities such as Akon and Jennifer Lopez (Straight Outta the Bronx!) have jumped on the bandwagon, as well. Even music biopics featuring the biggest artists do not typically lead at the box office, but "Compton" is estimated to be an exception. #StraightOutta is one of the biggest trending hashtags currently on Twitter. Read More 

Recent Social Nightmares and How to Learn From Them

The social sphere is an uncontrolled environment. Just one Tweet can be blown out of portion and this happens all the time with celebrities and brands. And when a real PR scandal occurs, guess where it hits first? Social media.

When it rains, it pours and a public relations crisis is bound to happen to companies and celebs in the public eye. But, the brands that can adapt and respond quickly are they ones who take less of a blow. Marketers need to be prepared and should always be wearing their battle armor. 

So let's take a look at some of the recent social screw ups and how they were addressed:


Sometimes it is not even a mistake by the brand, but by affiliation with something or someone, they get tumultuous PR storm. Subway is currently getting a ton of backlash from Jarod Fogle scandal. However, they handled this matter quickly and the best way they could have. The brand made the official announcement below quickly after the story hit. Some may have thought that this was a pretty cut-throat move by the sub chain, but it was a necessary one.

About the most recent news story on Jared Fogle, this allegation, if true, is appalling and is contrary to the values of our brand. As previously stated, we have suspended our relationship with Jared.

Posted by Subway on Saturday, August 1, 2015

Kim Kardashian West:

For the celebrity Mrs. Kardashian West, everyday a new potential PR issue arrises. Her every social movement is studied by millions of users. Recently, she made one fatal mistake of spelling Giorgio Armani as Georgio. This was not missed by fans and haters, she received thousands of responses. Even the brand Giorgio Armani responded and corrected her mistake. She apologized publicly and eventually the storm cleared.

Screenshot of the Georgio Armani Tweet | Twitter @KimKardashian

Screenshot of the Georgio Armani Tweet | Twitter @KimKardashian

Even more recently, Mrs. West is being criticized for her selfie book. In just three months, only 32,000 copies have sold despite her vigorous social media efforts to promote it. However, social may be the exact reason for the flop. She already posts hundreds of selfies on all of her social accounts. So why would fans pay for something they can see for free? 

How do you think Subway and Kim Kardashian West handled their recent bad press? 

4 Brands that Are Killing it On Social Media

Each brand has a unique strategy that works for them. If you're looking for inspiration for your own brand, check out what these guys are doing to dominate the social media game.  Which one do you think has the best social media presence?   

Charmin - The toilet paper company proves you don't need a glamorous product to have a great marketing strategy.  They hatched the "tweet from the seat" campaign on Twitter to combat what people may consider a dull product. Consumers are encouraged to share the deep thoughts that come to mind when sitting on the porcelain throne.

Netflix - Netflix consistently nails it with posts that hit home with its market.  The company is a prime example of one that truly understands its audience.  By using movie quotes and appropriate gifs, the content strongly resonates with its users.

Oreo - With so many food companies on social media, what is it about the classic cookie that makes it stand out from the rest? The company's design crew is always releasing fresh content in the form of vines and videos to keep it interesting. Among its most notable campaigns was in Halloween of 2013, when it created a series of videos with cookies spoofing classic horror films. 

Dove - The bath-and-beauty product company's mission is to empower women to embrace their own beauty.  #BeautyIs, #LoveYourShape and #SpeakBeautiful are some of the hashtags used with content on Twitter to encourage women to feel good about themselves.  Read More  




How Diamonds are Social Media's Best Friend

In the digital age, storytelling on social media is everything to consumers. If they didn't post it on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat– did it even happen? Most millennials and consumers of any age for that matter would say, maybe not.

For about the past 10 years, sharing the moment on social media has become just as important as the moment itself. For the consumer with a disposable income, they are wanting the next extravagant experience they can post to top the other stories or photos on their feed. 

So what are some high-end restaurants and hotels using as a tactic to get their customers to do their digital marketing for them? Diamonds are proving to be social media's best friend. The Algonquin Hotel's Blue Bar offers a $10,000 martini that comes with an actual diamond at the bottom of the drink. The "Martini on the Rock" is clearly not meant to be a top seller on the cocktail list, but an extravagant marketing tool that will undoubtedly generate press. Few have sipped on this luxurious drink but its existence creates buzz. The New York Palace Hotel had a similar idea when they created The Jewel Suite. The suite contains all of the standard luxuries - views of the city skyline, a private rooftop terrace, champagne... and a complimentary diamond ring. What makes a luxury brand appear more lavish than a drink or suite that comes with a real diamond? Read More     

Restaurant Brands Get Digitally Crazy

social media

By Kerri Adams, Digital Media Manager

Let’s face it! For restaurants to keep up in this competitive digital space, their marketers have to think outside the box. While traditional print marketing may be still relative, the consumer’s everyday experience is now a virtual one.

Every restaurant brand is trying to catch the attention of the elusive, distracted consumer, and a few methods may even be considered downright ridiculous. Need some proof? Here’s a closer look at how restaurant brands for better or for worse have gone digitally crazy to win the hearts of consumers.

Taco Bell Speaks Millennial

This quick-serve mogul that specializes in Mexican-inspired fare has never been subtle with its advertising. Taco Bell has actually taken the opposite approach of subtle.

Back in 2011, the brand run a full-page ad in Wall Street Journal, thanking the law firm Beasley Allen for filing a class action suit against the brand. The ad boldly stated “Thank you for suing us.” The suit claimed that the restaurant’s beef taco contained questionable ingredients other than just beef. The brand took this as an opportunity to tell “the truth” about what was in the meat with details of the beef taco – including what was in their not-so-secret sauce. The brand took it a step further with a video featuring CEO Greg Creed explaining what ingredients could be found in the beef taco. A few months later, the the class action suit was withdrawn.

Today, the brand continues to make a splash, but more of a digital one. In March 2015, Taco Bell declared a digital war when it released a controversial video (which has not been removed). The video tells a story about a group of individuals living in an oppressed society where a Ronald McDonald lookalike forces them to only eat Egg McMuffin-esque sandwiches for breakfast. In the end, they break free from this dictatorship so they can have some variety to their breakfast and become “breakfast defectors.” The brand has now created a social movement around this concept.

Besides causing somewhat of an uproar by calling out competitors, the brand has proven that they speak “millennial.” Taco Bell was one of the first brands to use Snapchat to engage with its customers. This is one of the ways the brand announced it had teamed up with DoorDash to test delivery in some markets.

TGI Fridays: Sharing Burgers Across Social

In 2009, the casual-dining giant TGI Fridays made a major social media mistake. They launched a Facebook offer where its No. 1 fan, “Woody” (who was fictitious), announced if he got 500,000 fans over the next month, each fan would get a free Jack Daniel’s Burger from the restaurant. In only 11 days, Woody reached the 500k mark and the brand was certainly not prepared for it. They could not get the coupons out in a reasonable time and the new fans got angry. And these angry fans took to social media to vent. So in the end, this “get fans quick” scheme was a bust and the page was removed.

Today, the brand is still trying to give away free burgers, but this recent social campaign is much more thought-out. Anytime someone purchases a handcrafted burger from TGI Fridays, that person will receive a code that he or she can enter at this microsite. The code then generates a social post (on Facebook or Twitter only) or an email for the user to share which includes a free burger. The first friend to click on the post gets the free burger.

This #JumpBurger campaign is clever for a few reasons. For one, it appeals to the consumer’s competitive nature. Secondly, if users miss out on the freebie, they are directed to the brand’s reward club where they get a free appetizer or dessert if they join. And thirdly, it gets customers to share TGI Fridays' brand content.

#Paneragoodness with Trendy Millennials

It makes complete sense that the top mobile brand of Q1 2015 would be on top of its social game. And the most recent social move by Panera Bread is promoting its #PaneraGoodness campaign, which is centered around eating “clean” and is focused on its fresh ingredients. The brand is taking it a step further with animated Gifs like shown below….

Panera is featuring short videos on social, primarily on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, of famous millennials speaking about their favorite ingredient. Some of the trendy millennials include Youtube stars Ricky Dillion and Andrea Russett and musicians like Jake Miller. These millennials explain their passion for the ingredient and often get nostalgic and share story of when they’ve enjoyed it in the past.

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Although these brands are not necessarily going completely digitally crazy, the top-performing restaurants are experimenting with social in creative ways that we have not seen before. What do you think of these tactics? Do these resonate with today’s social consumer?

Kids & Families are More Likely to Get Digital at Restaurants

In the world of digital marketing, particularly restaurants, kids are key. And although they may not be the ones holding the wallet, they are the ones often persuading the one with the buying power where to eat.  

With that in mind, successful restaurant brands are utilizing digital entertainment to engage with ultimately their most influential customers- kids. Chilli's is among the many to start offering tabletop tablets with games for a nominal fee. Research says that currently 1 in 10 tables currently purchase this feature.  As proven by Texas Roadhouse, the tactic doesn't necessarily have to be part of the dining experience. The brand's game "Legend Hunters" features a continuous story with various characters and a coloring book style feature. Coloring books are getting techy by using a QR code on children's menus. This allows the little diner the option to print, email, or upload scenes that they colored. Restaurants are finding that mobile app games are a useful vehicle to build brand loyalty with customers. Research is showing that consumers with children are 73% more likely to access deals from mobile apps and 73% more likely to scan a QR code. Findings also show that families with children are more likely to use mobile apps to pay for their order, place an order for pickup or place an order for delivery.  Read More  

"McDonalds" the Musical

Screenshot from the musical | McDonald's 

Screenshot from the musical | McDonald's 

Since millennials grew up watching the popular "High School Musical" franchise, it's no surprise that McDonald's latest campaign to target this demographic features a Glee-inspired musical commercial. The musical is set inside a McDonald's where a girl (actress Leslie Grace) is suffering from a bit of writer's block.  

A plucky McDonald's employee quickly comes to the rescue with inspiration in the form of back up dancers and a catchy song in Spanish. The McDonald's hispanic marketing department says its goal is to connect with its young consumers with catchy pop music that also ties in the Spanish culture. In recent times, the brand has suffered in sales, losing business to competition in the form of cast casual's such as Chipotle and Shake Shack. This is one of several attempts the brand has made to reconnect with their audience, along with menu changes and revamping of the company's imagine. Do you think this new approach could have millennials be "lovin it" again?  Read More

"Friend or Faux" is Chipotle's Latest Marketing Campaign

Screenshot of the placeholder page for the new Chipotle's game releasing on July 21st | 

Screenshot of the placeholder page for the new Chipotle's game releasing on July 21st | 

A burrito mogul's climb to the top doesn't just happen without well-thought out advertising. Some savvy digital marketing strategies have been put into place along the road to Chipotle's success. Most recently an interactive online game for its consumers called "Friend or Faux" has people talking.

The game's intention is to educate its customers about Chipotle's ingredients versus those used in traditional fast food. The player chooses a Chipotle menu item and a random fast food menu item and then identities which item contains which ingredient. A "study guide" is provided for users to learn about the ingredients used in various Chipotle menu items. The goal of this campaign is to reinforce Chipotle's commitment to quality ingredients raised with respect for the environment, farmers and consumers. As a reward for playing the game, customers will receive a buy one get one mobile offer and a chance to win free burritos for a year. The "Friend or Faux" campaign is supported by significant online advertising to drive the message and and participation in the game/contest.  

Do you think Chipotle's strategy is an effective way to interact with its customers? Read More 

Going Mobile? Identify a Purpose

If you have decided it's time for your brand to go mobile- welcome. And you're right, it is time. Consumers are partly going to view your website on a mobile device. The average smartphone user reaches for their phone on an average of 150 times a day and so many people underestimate the power of what a mobile app can achieve for a brand. This modern day device is more than a screen and more than a replacement for a plastic card or sheet or paper. With that in mind- it is worth the investment to make your website mobile responsive. 

What about if you want to take it a step further with a mobile app? By being web-enabled, interactive, and location-aware, a smartphone app can provide a faster, friendlier, and precise guest experience. Creating a mobile app without a proper strategy can be extremely counterproductive to your business. Don't go fishing without a fishing pole. You must have a clear purpose and goal in mind before taking the plunge.

So ask yourself the Ws before going forward with building the app. What is the benefit you wish to achieve? What would make you, as a consumer, want to download the app? Think like one of your loyal guests. The more specific you can get , the clearer your path will be to creating an app your guests will love. The Starbuck's app started singularly focused as a payment app tied with rewards. This is the most popular app in the restaurant industry and they have just expanded mobile ordering. Read more about how to build a mobile app here.       

The Big Data Dictionary

The digital age has introduced almost a new language for marketers to understand. Do you know all of the terms below? If not, catch up with the "cheat sheet" below. 

Analytics: The discovery of meaningful patterns found in data. Data visualization is often used to communicate insight. In areas heavy in recorded information, statistics, computer programming and operation research are necessary to calibrate performance. 

Behavioral Analytics: A Methodology used to analyze user behaviors to predict future actions and understand intent. This type of data aims to not only understand what is happening but also why it is happening.

Big Data: A broad term for large and complex data that deem traditional data processing systems inadequate. Some of the challenges include analysis, data curation, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization and information privacy. 

Business Intelligence: A set of tools used to transform raw data into meaningful data for business analysis. These technologies are capable of organizing large amounts of unstructured data to help identify strategic business opportunities.

Data Mining: A data analysis technique focusing on discovering information for predictive purposes. The data inspected and explored or "mined".  Catch up on more indsutry terms here!   

How Big Data Changed the Game for Restaurant Brands

By Kerri Adams, Digital Media Manager

It is difficult to imagine a world where restaurant diners are not anxiously checking their phones or snapping photos of their meals. And although some establishments frown upon excessive cell phone usage, (yes, there are restaurants that have strict no mobile devices out at the table policies) brands that embrace smartphone usage and use this consumer addiction to their advantage are the most successful.

But it actually took the restaurant industry as a whole quite a while to catch up in the technology space. When consumers started to live in their digital obsessed world, businesses -- specifically restaurants -- lost control. This digital world was in favor of the customer. Not only were restaurateurs and marketers having difficulty trying to adapt, but consumers were the ones gaining power over the purchasing process. That was until these marketers harnessed the power of big data.

The Power of MPOS

Point of sale systems are so much more than a modern cash register. This is where customers spoon feed their demographics and preferences to the business in a form of a credit card. But now the POS is not always in-store -- it is in the customer’s pocket. The customer can be at home or 30 minutes away from the restaurant when they order. In today’s fast-moving market, it has become an expectation from the consumer for a restaurant to have mobile ordering. The success of mobile ordering has shown that customers don’t mind giving their information in exchange for convenience. Most mobile-ordering platforms (and loyalty programs) require users to set up - profiles where the business can collect their name, address, phone number and their menu preferences.

The No. 1 restaurant of Q1 2015 according to consumer social data from Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI) was the fast casual Panera bread. This brand has seamlessly integrated technology to offer a more convenient dining experience -- in fact, 20% of sales come from mobile, online and kiosk ordering. With the launch of Panera 2.0, the brand has already rolled out rapid pick up to all stores, but soon it will be rolling out the kiosks. An expected 20% is bound to increase.

Consumers may love these programs because they are convenient, but Panera loves them because they can track customer behavior better than ever. The brand uses customer data to determine the best rewards for each individual loyalty program customer. If a customer regularly orders items off their “Pick Two” menu, most likely they will be receiving a $2 off reward in the near future.

Targeting your Customer Everywhere

The social sphere still offers various challenges to brands. It is an uncontrolled environment where consumers have the freedom to voice their opinions however they wish. Until recently, the social space was seen as the Wild West to marketers. Again, that has also changed. DigitalCoCo’s RSMI is the most comprehensive index for the restaurant & foodservice industry. We are tracking 15,256 brands in more than 430K locations, with more than 188,699 total restaurant industry terms. Anyone can collect data -- but what will set successful businesses apart is  is how they make sense of that data. We use a large dictionary of sentiment-bearing phrases then both assign and interpret their relative scores. By creating this extensive database of terms, we are able to determine a brand’s consumer sentiment score through an intricate analysis of what their customers are saying on social media platforms.

Let’s face it – customers are going to be less gated about their opinions on social. We are able to track these honest consumer interactions and determine how consumers really feel about the brand: How is their service? How do they feel about a new menu item? In-store feedback is no longer the only place for brands to measure their performance. Customers are more accessible through this social sphere.


There is a way to take tracking your social customers a step further. How do you know if your social audience is driving sales? Previously, it was not easy to measure if your social audience was translating into business. That was before VenueBeacon. These beacons are placed closed to the POS and they pull data from the mobile devices from as little as 2 inches to as far as 200 feet away. This allows for brands to track Location-based actions like never before. Brands can measure sidewalk traffic, time in-store by zones and competitive habits of these consumers. Learn more about this technology here

Although marketers still have yet to invent a crystal ball that predicts a customer’s future behavior, collecting data from the technologies above has given the power back to the marketer. Ultimately, the brands that track their customers’ movements the closest will be the ones to rise to the top.

Social Media Hacks from the Pros

There's more to winning at social media than just "posting good content". Strategies need to be implemented that involve research, testing, data, and creativity. So here are some tips from the pros that will get you more followers, and increase engagement and ultimately boost revenue.  

-Following up is essential. When trying to contact someone with a busy schedule, chances are they'll say something like "Now's a busy time but try me again in 2 weeks". To ensure that this important contact doesn't slip through the cracks, use Boomerang. It's a gmail plugin that allows you to write a message and schedule it to send at a later time.

-Instagram is increasing in popularity as a favorite social media channel. With a little planning and tagging, you can create visuals on various profiles that give your company visibility and will encourage your follows to engage. More engagement means more impressions which means more followers. 

- Buffer is a helpful tool that you should consider using.  This feature allows the user to spend more time engaging and less time scheduling posts. You can write multiple posts, decide which platforms they get scheduled to, and Buffer will spread them out over a day or week so you don't have to be sitting at your computer to have a social media presence. It provides analytics and will suggest content that your audience may be interested in.  Read More