A recent post in The Next Web detailed just how much technology has revolutionized the food industry: photo sharing apps, food specific apps, location aware review sites, and the multitude of networked restaurant reviewers. To navigate through the changes, many entrepreneurs are turning to tech-savvy foodies like Monica Sethi.
Specializing in digital marketing and website development, Sethi started e-BuzzEdge. In a relatively short time, she has managed to convince hesitant, food industry entrepreneurs to be aggressive about embracing technology. Not simply to remain relevant, but to increase revenue and brand awareness by tapping into the ever-expanding world of social media.
When did you realize that businesses could truly benefit from social media?
I still recall sitting in my favorite coffee shop with a friend and the topic of Twitter coming up. Her words still resonate in my mind: “I really don’t need a play-by-play of someone’s day. I don’t care what you ate for dinner or what movie you watched.” Up to this point, I had been using social media for personal reasons. During this time though, I found myself giving friends and family advice here and there on how to leverage social media for their business. I would also go into different places and think “these guys could benefit from social media for XYZ reasons.” Whether it was for reputation management, brand awareness, customer service, loyalty rewarding or education, the benefits and uses were unique for each business.
But it was my friend’s words in that coffee shop which provided that “a-ha” moment. She may not care what someone ate, but others do. People love talking about where they are, what they ate and showing photos to go along with it. What a great opportunity for restaurants to create ‘brand ambassadors’ to help create that buzz. After all, social media is “word of mouth marketing on steroids”. At the same time, I also knew diners would love an outlet to communicate directly with restaurants outside of a venue. It was a win-win situation. I immediately approached the owners of Co Co. Sala, an award-winning Washington DC restaurant. At first, they were hesitant since at the time, restaurants were not very active with social media - especially not on Twitter. But after two days and seeing immediate results and endless benefits, they were hooked. And I must say, so was I!
I like how you use lots of social media tools, including foursquare. Brett Petersel of Mashable notes that foursquare is a great tool for restaurants and eateries. What have the results been like?
Foursquare is an amazing flexible tool for restaurants. One sweet thing about Foursquare is that there are different “check-in” specials a business can offer to fit one’s different goals. For example, if you want to reward someone for frequenting your establishment the most, you have the “Mayor” reward. To reward new customers, you may offer a ‘first check-in special’. The power is in the numbers. When someone checks in via their mobile device, Foursquare is able to automatically update one’s Facebook news feed for all their friends to see and broadcast to all their Twitter followers. The average person has 130 friends on Facebook. If you have 10 people check-in on Foursquare, 1,300 people on Facebook will be notified. My favorite benefit of Foursquare is the ability for the restaurant to be able to reach out to the guest regarding their dining experience. Each time a guest’s check-in is tweeted, we will reach out to the individual and thank them for dining with the restaurant and ask for feedback. This is a great way for the business to not only solicit feedback but also provide the diner with that exceptional customer service which they deserve. Customers seem to love this too.
What else do you have on the horizon?
I am an avid learner. I love to learn new things and in turn, share what I have learned with others. With the digital world constantly changing, I think the opportunity to do just that is what makes social media so appealing to me. I would love to continue growing e-Buzz Edge by helping businesses stay current in the digital space and to educate them on the importance of online customer engagement and two-way communication. On a personal level, one of the biggest benefits I see is the ability to be a voice. I plan on becoming more involved in organizations using social media for social good.