Saturday, October 13, 2012

Restaurants, cafes and social media

Another Facebook debacle about an eatery in Hobart today has got me thinking about the whole social media thing, and the reasons as to why an eatery might want to create a Facebook presence.

It seems to me that if you’re:
*positive you have a product worth promoting (ie your food and service)
*have the time to devote to constantly keep an eye on your Facebook page
*continually keep your eatery in the forefront of peoples minds with daily Facebook specials, highlights of good things happening at your business etc
*and can respectfully and promptly respond to any negativity online (ie hose it down instantly)
you should be fine.

I am Facebook friends with, for instance, Aproneers and Chado. Both places regularly update their Facebook page with great daily specials, good news, informative notes about products, and generally keep in touch with their ‘fans’, as do Dr Syntax Hotel, also a favourite of mine.

Todays shitfight was at the Facebook page of the New Sydney Hotel. It started with a comment by a female member of a group of eight who arrived at NS for a meal in the upstairs function room last night, and who went to the bar downstairs to order their drinks/meals. Only one of the females in the roughly same aged group was told she had to produce some ID before the barmaid would serve her. She explained that her ID was upstairs in her bag, and (presumably) that she was 18 (because she was!). This was apparently unacceptable to the barmaid. The manager was called and he too was equally unhelpful and rude to the customers. It seemed to end with the barmaid telling the group to “piss off”.

Apparently a photo was posted as well, but I didn’t see that. I was too busy reading the 65 comments – most of which were extremely negative about both the service and food at NS, and in some cases, quite derogatory about NS staff – including one which read that the comment-poster had been raped by a staff member there, and another comment which told us that Al (owner) was a twat, and asking for Gary to be bought back!

By mid afternoon, the site had been removed, and replaced with a squeaky clean, new page, with no bad words or opinions on it at all.

But guys, the damage, once again, as in the case of Gilby’s a few weeks ago, is done.

If you, as a restaurant owner or manager, feel the need to keep up with the trend of creating a Facebook page for your business, you can’t just start it up and occasionally look at it out of curiosity every now and then. It’s a marketing tool, if used well, and can serve your business extremely well, if you manage it properly.

Nominate someone (either your partner, or a reliable staff member, or friend you trust) who is good with words and will keep a close eye on the site, and keep you informed as to what is being said in a public forum about your business, so that the minute someone adds a complaint about your product, you can address it instantly and politely.

Even if you might think that a critic of your business should “get a life”, that is most definitely not the wording to respond to a criticism on Facebook (as Gilby’s did).

Wise up  restaurant and café owners of Hobart! Get your collective acts together and use this wonderful tool correctly. It’ll assist keeping your business afloat if you do.

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