In 2008 when social media monitoring solutions like Radian6 and Collective Intellect started popping up, we talked a lot about the importance of listening to online conversations. Most companies looked at monitoring as a defense mechanism and reactive practice — Find mentions of your brand to know when you have to shift into crisis mode.
But a handful of us saw the opportunity for proactive social monitoring and advocated for a more robust use of the tools. I remember telling Social Media Club Louisville audiences way back then (2008 and 2009 seem like ages ago, don’t they?) that instead of looking for mentions of your brand, you should also be looking for any mention that might lead to a customer.
Two weeks ago on Friday, I decided to test my Louisville compatriots to see if anyone in the restaurant business paid attention or developed what I consider to be basic, starting behavior for businesses in social media monitoring. I tweeted:
The wording was intentional in two regards. I said “Louisville restaurant” because that is a fairly common word combination that would likely be used for someone looking for a restaurant in Louisville. I also openly stated I was conducting a little experiment. The tweet, in my mind, was a clear indication I was testing my fellow Villebillies. Who would respond?
Seven Twitter accounts responded, all of them individual people but one. The one was the company account for Charr’d, a relatively new bourbon-themed bar in a Marriott hotel on the East End of Louisville. They invited me to dine with them for lunch. So, I did.
The food was good and I had taste tests of a couple new bourbons I’d not tried. The general manager delivered my food personally, calling me “Mr. Falls,” as he presented it. They knew who I was and catered to me quite a bit. It was a slow day for them, it seemed, but they took real-time, proactive monitoring to the full executional extent and delivered a great experience.
As a result, I posted two new bourbon notes on Pinterest, a picture on Twitter and mentions of the awesome experience on Facebook and Twitter as well. I’m very likely to take my wife there to eat dinner soon, too.
Good for Charr’d. They were paying attention. And yes, we can have the whole, “You were an influencer/Peter Shankman and Morton’s,” argument if you like. But what Charr’d did wasn’t the story.
Social media marketing is only productive for your business if you work to make it so
The story was what other Louisville restaurants did not do. Charr’d was the only restaurant to respond. Even days later, there were no other responses or mentions. Sure, Cunningham’s, Troll Under The Bridge and Down One got nods from enthusiasts who also follow me on Twitter, but where were the official accounts?
And it’s not ME that is of concern. It’s ANYONE who might have been looking as well. Why weren’t these restaurants looking for customers?
The simple explanation is that social media marketing is only productive for your business if you work to make it so. Most businesses, especially small ones, still think of social as some sort of check-box they have to have, rather than something they have to do or be. Browsing my informally curated list of Louisville businesses on Twitter, I count no fewer than two dozen restaurants or hotels with restaurants. Yet only one responded to a Louisvillian’s tweet asking where he should eat lunch.
Don’t get me wrong! I don’t think monitoring Twitter everyday at lunch is going to produce massive amounts of foot traffic for many restaurants. But the ease with which the technology allows you to do so, makes not a missed opportunity.
Are you monitoring the web for mentions of your business? That’s the logical use case. But are you advanced enough to also monitor for purchase intent indicators of your target audiences? Maybe you should.