Until the advent of digital marketing, word of mouth had long been unchanged. Word of mouth is no longer simply a customer telling their neighbor about a new restaurant they tried. It has evolved into tweets, check-ins, Instagram photos, and online reviews.
Word of mouth works because it is based on trust. Many people turn to recommendations from others when considering a new restaurant. Traditionally, people sought recommendations from friends and family. Today the internet has become a trusted source for those seeking advice. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
So, how does a restaurant marketer harness the power of modern day word of mouth?
Be worthy of being talked about.
- Have a great brand story. Your brand story creates a personal connetion with your customers. It makes you brand seem more relatiable. Tell the story in a way that is simple and compelling so they will want to share it.
- Be referral worthy. A good menu, atmosphere and stellar customer service go a long way when trying to create buzz about your restaurant. When customers are excited about a your restaurant, they are more likely to talk about it. As a thank you, they may even write a raving review online.
Monitor online directories.
Online directories are perhaps the biggest component of modern day word of mouth. Yelp, Urban Spoon, and Zomato are a few of the many platforms people can use to post restaurant reviews. People also use these directories when considering where they would like to eat.
- Claim your listing. Most directories allow a restaurant to claim their listing. Doing so allows you to post photos, respond to reviews, buy ads, and edit your business information. The directories also allow your site by allow you to link your menu.
- Listen to what people say. Online directories offer a unique way to learn what your customer really think. Watching for trends in reviews offers insight into problems as well as what your customers love.
Leverage social media.
- Hunger-inducing photography: Quality photos are one of the best ways to grab a user's attention. A tasty looking dish has the power to entice the palate. Post images of tasty dishes to your social platforms, especially Instagram. You can also watch social media for customers who post photos of your food or a group of friends at your restaurant.
- Engage in conversations: Social media provides a unique opportunity to interact with your followers. Respond to comments, comment on photos posted by followers, or address any negative comments.
- Encourage check-ins: Checking-in on Facebook appears in news feeds. User's friends see the check-in and/or a photo of a tasty meal or a group out for dinner. The goal is to spread brand awareness and hopefully intrigue those who see it to visit your restaurant.
Geo-targeted ads. Most people actively perusing Yelp (or similar) are looking for someplace close by to eat. Geo-targeted ads help get your restaurant and its reviews in front of these potential customers. The ads are displayed to users whose GPS location is within a set radius of your restaurant. There are several options available when buying geo-targeted ads. Google AdWords, Facebook, and Twitter offer geo-targeted ad options along with their ads.
Word of mouth is traditionally the way in which people spread their reviews of new restaurants and likely always will be. The only thing that has changed is the medium by which we do that. For marketers this means that valuable insight into what customers are saying is readily available- giving them time to react in a way that positively impacts your bottom line.