Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Twitter and its impact on Restaurant culture


The evolution of the internet, cell phones and e-mail have meant huge changes for the restaurant industry, as todays customer is often attached to their blackberry or iPhone. It is rare to see a group of people out at a restaurant without at least one person texting or chatting on their phone. Restaurants in older generations and cultures were a place of community, a place to socialize but in the age of technology and cell phones has the sense of community been swallowed up by the fast paced environment of today? Is twitter a way to get back to communicating with the guest at a grass roots level?

It is important to note that over the relatively short time that twitter has been in existence it has developed its own sub culture and even its own vernacular. This is a new world, where an average of sixty five million tweets get sent out in a single day and Charlie Sheen can reach one million followers in a little over 24 hours. So to make sure everyone has caught up to the tsunami style trend, here are just a few pieces of common twitter vocabulary:

Tweeter - Someone who is authoring a statement to a group of people.
Tweet - Is an individual statement that a tweeter has made.
Follow - Means that a twitter account holder has selected another account holder to track and will receive all of their tweets automatically
Retweet - Is reposting a tweet that someone has written
Hashtag - Hashtags allow the general public to reference tweets, so that if a certain word or un-spaced group of words is hashtaged it can be searched out from a database of recent tweets.

There are definitely other forms of social media out there; some of the sites offer similar functions, but it is the little details that make Twitter unique. While sites like Facebook and Hi5 operate on the basis of community networking, it is only Twitter that allows its users to follow their favorite movie stars, recording artists, and even culinary talents. Chefs and restaurateurs alike have direct access to their followers and can feature products and events at the touch of a button. Twitter allows for 140 characters of text, the ability to add photos and marketing potential that is limitless; so Chefs like Cam Dobranski of Calgary’s Wine Bar can tweet photos of the great food that he is serving and hit the dedicated customer base that it is intended for.

Cam Dobranski

My pork hock for two at my brasserie Kensington. Need I say more... http://yfrog.com/h8ffgamj

This approach allows guests to put a name and face to the creativity that they’re experiencing. Tweets like these represent a truly hands on approach to marketing and a way to make the intangible; tangible.

Most restaurateurs struggle with the feasibility of radio, print and television as a means of advertising as there is little way to tell how many people the ads reach, and what the success is if the customer is exposed to the ad. With Twitter writers know exactly who they are tweeting to and have the ability to invite groups of people, or reference just one specific follower to join them in their establishment. This works great for special events that tend to bring people out; sporting events can be a major revenue generator for Food and Beverage establishments, depending on what type of venue is operating. Scott Roberts Marketing Director at the Elbow River Casino uses Twitter to inform customers of upcoming events on the big screens at Sammys Sports Bar.

Elbow Casino
@elbowcasino Calgary
The #1 entertainment venue in Calgary, featuring Yuk Yuks Comedy Club.

Big Day at the Elbow!! Belmont Stakes into UFC 131throw in a side of Yuk Yuks and Vegas Style Gaming!! #1 entertainment venue in Calgary!

As strange as it seems the Twitter platform gives immense possibilities to the food and beverage industry. Twitter is a way the restaurant industry can connect with its guests on a personal level, with amazing capabilities and in real time; but with the good, the chance for bad. Although restaurateurs have the opportunity to connect with their clientele, that clientele has the same access. So if there are issues or problems with an establishment, they can be uncovered in an open forum for everyone to see and re-tweet.

Twitter is in its truest sense word of mouth advertising and the saying has always been that “word of mouth is your best form of advertising” so be sure to put your best foot forward as twitter could be a best friend or a worst enemy.

Jordan Knox


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