Business and Operations
Pizza on Fire: September-October 2013
By Tom Stankiewicz
Social graces - The most important lessons I’ve learned about social media
By Tom Stankiewicz
The old and tired word-of-mouth advertising has been transformed by the overwhelming use of the social media.
The old and tired word-of-mouth advertising has been transformed by the overwhelming use of the social media. It’s no longer a matter of telling only your close friends about the most delicious pizza you had for dinner. In an instant, hundreds of people could read about it, all people who otherwise would not even know that your pizzeria existed.
Consequently, you could view every person who uses social media as a potential customer. The important question is, how do we engage these people in a conversation and make your product attractive enough to persuade them to purchase?
Every day more businesses join social media hoping that the new forums will translate into increased revenue for them. However, many business owners who are new to social media very quickly find out that it can be overwhelming to keep up with the constant updates and maintenance of these sites. Our pizzeria joined the Facebook and Twitter communities and we have been introduced to a whole new world out there. I have assembled a few key observations that could help when your pizzeria is ready to join the world of social media (or is doing it but not seeing results).
Without a question, social media can be an effective tool to grow your business. The trick is to engage people in a conversation or at least persuade them to stop for a few seconds to read your post. Your messages and advertisements have to be catchy enough to grab their attention within seconds before they are ready to move on to something else. If they like what they see or read there is a greater likelihood it will be shared with others they are connected with. It’s important to take time and think about the content of your posts so they are most effective in fulfilling the main purpose of driving more business to you. You don’t want to fall into a trap where all your posts are simply business advertisements. When your customers realize that this is all they will find on your social media pages, they may not come back.
If you are unfamiliar or not very confident about your skills on social media, take small steps. Taking the time to understand and learn the ways of various communities will help you create a more effective business page or tweet. Instead of opening accounts on every possible social media site, decide on one or two that your customers are most likely using. From my experience, there is no need to play a guessing game. When asked, my customers have been more than happy to tell me which social media sites they use frequently. It’s a good idea to tell your clients that you are planning to join, for example, Facebook, and see how they react to it. They might even offer some suggestions of what they would like to see on your site. Keeping your account fresh and up to date requires time commitment, so fewer of them would definitely be much easier to manage. Once your level of comfort increases, you could sign up for additional social media sites.
It’s no surprise that the younger generation is a main driver of social media popularity. It’s almost like it is second nature to them and seems to require no effort on their part. If you have employees who are very knowledgeable about using social media, take advantage of it. They will be ecstatic that their skills are being recognized and jump at the opportunity to help. The cost for their assistance would be far lower than if you hired a professional. However, it is important to remember that as a business owner you are still responsible for your social media content.
Knowing your audience is critical in order to have an effective social media presence. It will make it easier to think of messages that will resonate with them. If you don’t understand who your customers are, your time and energy spent on the creation and maintenance of your sites will be wasted as the content won’t appeal to those you are targeting. It will be more difficult to come up with ideas that would prompt your readers to like or retweet your posts. In the end, it would simply defeat the purpose of your business joining the social media.
Don’t forget, results from your social media traffic and efforts need to be measured. It does not have to be a daily task; however, at least a monthly review should be conducted. If your goal is to have 50 likes or retweets each month, then each month this data needs to be verified. If your goals are not being met, then it means your strategy needs to be adjusted. Without analyzing your results, you will not know if your social media sites are successful.
Social media can bring your business positive and negative attention. The information that is posted by you or others on your sites is instantly available to anyone with access to the Internet. When you reply to a customer’s message, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone will see it. If a customer has a concern regarding your business and posts a negative message, think about your answer before replying. Your goal is to provide constructive feedback and avoid generating additional negative responses.
Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza business for more than 15 years. He has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., since 2000, and is president of the Canadian Pizza Team.