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Social Media Marketing for Restaurants with Ken Tucker

Ken Tucker is the founder of Changescape Web, a Small Business Marketing and Website Design Agency specializing in comprehensive integrated marketing strategies and campaigns for small and mid-sized businesses. Specialties include search engine optimization, website design, reputation management, social media marketing, lead generation, and marketing automation.

Ken is a Master Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant, an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional (since 2010), and an SEO for Growth Consultant (stlouis.seoforgrowth.com). Ken is the author of Social Media Marketing for Restaurants and co-author of Reputation Management (Marketing Guides for Small Businesses). This compact guide explains how to create and protect your online reputation.

Ken created and taught one of the first college credit Social Media Marketing classes in the US at St. Charles Community College. He has taught a course on Content Management Systems. He serves as Co-Chair of the St. Charles County Chambers of Commerce Technology Committee.

Links to resources, websites & offers mentioned during the show:

Phil Singleton: 00:01 – Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of the Local Business Leaders podcast. I’m Phil Singleton your host. And today we’ve got a very special guest for you today. This is a friend of mine and somebody I’ve worked with a long time, several years anyway. Ken Tucker from St. Louis. He’s with Changescape Web. I’m going to give you a little bit of a bio breakdown and then let Ken kind of fill in the gaps. Ken Tucker is the founder of Changescape Web, a small business marketing and website design agency specializing in comprehensive integrated marketing strategies and campaigns for small and midsize businesses. Specialties include search engine optimization Web site design, reputation management, social media marketing, lead generation and marketing automation. That’s a mouthful but a lot of good stuff and things that every small business needs to be thinking about these days. Ken is a master Duct Tape Marketing Certified consultant and I am also a Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant but not a master yet. Ken and I have belonged to the same network for a few years now.

Social Media Marketing for Restaurants

Phil Singleton: 01:05 – Ken is also an inbound marketing Certified Professional since 2010 an SEO for Growth Certified Consultant. Ken is the author of Social Media Marketing for Restaurants and co-author of Reputation Management Marketing Guides for Small Businesses. Ken welcome to the show today.

Ken Tucker: 01:24 – Thanks so much Phil. Looking forward to it.

Phil Singleton: 01:26 So what we want to talk a little bit about is something specific to small businesses in a particular niche, and then have you discuss a little bit about the problems that you see in that niche. The challenges you see for some of these folks and then some of the solutions some of the things you see that are working today in terms of marketing and lead generation.

Ken Tucker: 01:46 Okay sounds good.

Phil Singleton: 01:47 So I think we are going to talk about and correct me if I’m wrong, we can change go somewhere else, be we were going to talk about restaurants.

Ken Tucker: 01:53 Yeah no that’s perfect. That’s that’s right in line with what I wanted to talk about today.

Phil Singleton: 01:59 OK so give us maybe some examples of…

Phil Singleton: 02:02 And obviously I know you’ve you’ve written a book recently on I believe it’s social media for restaurants in particular. What

Phil Singleton: 02:16 motivated you to write the book, and what can restaurant owners get out of it?

Ken Tucker: 02:19 Well a couple of things. One is I wound up creating a college class. Three are college classes at a local community college here in the St. Louis area and so I spend a lot of time thinking about social media. I taught that class for about 3 1/2 to 4 years and you know so so that’s kind of part of the reason why I decided to go after social media marketing for restaurants as a topic. The other thing is just as a consumer, I “know what I know”. It kind of drives me nuts sometimes to see the missed opportunities that restaurants are missing a lot of great opportunity. And I really love working with local businesses and I want to see those guys succeed. I’m a business owner myself, so I know it’s really important that they can get the help and so that’s why I decided to put that book together.

Phil Singleton: 03:21 So what in terms of restaurants do you see, or some of the common challenges that they have.

Ken Tucker: 03:28 So I guess a couple of big ones that I see. One interestingly enough is really not even tied to an online presence. It’s actually how they use their physical space and then too often they don’t take advantage of the physical space or the printed materials you know could be receipts it could be their menus their table table tents or whatever they might have to direct people onto their online properties and in particular social media or review sites. So I think that’s that’s a biggie right there. Then I think a lot of restaurants don’t seem to be very active in an active review management process which I believe is is really probably the single biggest thing that restaurants need to be paying attention to. And then also how that relates to the social media strategy. Excellent, so just to dig in a little bit deeper into the reviews….

Phil Singleton: 04:29 You’re saying that you see a lot of restaurants out there that either aren’t proactively addressing their online reputation management so online what they’re seeing is what? They’re just kind of letting “reputation happen” to them or not being more proactive about getting more.

Phil Singleton: 04:44 What are some of the common pain points when you’ve actually talked to some of these guys…. And do they get it? I mean we talk to restaurants today.

Ken Tucker: 04:53 Do they acknowledge that this is a problem or they just act like this stuff happens to us and we just kind of deal with it as it comes.

Ken Tucker: 05:03 So I think there’s there’s both scenarios where you’ve got restaurants that are unaware of what their overall reputation is and they don’t really take a very active role in managing and responding to reviews. I mean I’ve seen studies that show that just simply responding to reviews whether they are positive or negative typically gives you at least a quarter of a star uplift in overall composite rating for that for that location. So you know it’s a I think it’s a big missed opportunity and I think part of it is some people are scared to respond to a negative review. And look there’s no doubt you could be pouring gasoline onto a fire. You just never really know. And you should be very cautious about how you reply to negative or critical reviews. My recommendation is to at least reply, express that you’re not that you’re disappointed that they didn’t have an optimal experience and then try to take them off line and you know either have them call a phone number or or correspond with an email address so that you can try to make things right. Even responding to positive reviews just by saying “hey great, thanks”.

Ken Tucker: 06:14 “….We’re so happy you you’ll love this dish” or sure you love the atmosphere of our restaurant. You know those are missed opportunities like crazy. A lot of restaurants do get a pretty good stream of consistent reviews coming in. I don’t think they’re monitoring that and really paying attention and they certainly aren’t actively participating it too many times in gathering the reviews and really focusing on getting more and more reviews, in particular in the right places. When it comes to restaurants, you’re really looking at Google and Yelp…

Ken Tucker: 06:53 ….probably being the dominant along with Facebook. But you know there are some very important review sites that are out there based on…Trip Advisor for example is one where if you’re the type of restaurant that a lot of people traveling to and from a location you know where you’re going to be able to kind of can capitalize on some of that some of that foot traffic coming in from out of town. TripAdvisor is going to be a really important review site for you to to build up and monitor and manage.

Phil Singleton: 07:28 Okay, great. What do you tell a business partner that says “Yeah you know I understand I get that right now but there’s no tool out there that’s going to help me get more reviews there’s no way to do it”.

Phil Singleton: 07:35 I mean you have or obviously there’s probably some solutions out there that can help people work this into their routine and be more proactive about it. Can you give us some insight on specificly what they could do to get more positive reviews.

Creating an Online Customer Review Funnel

Ken Tucker: 07:50 Yeah absolutely. It can start out very simple where you basically just could provide a shortened URL and drive people specifically to your Google page. When I say shortened URL, I mean something like a bitly URL or if you want it to brand something where you’ve got a custom domain for example my company uses CSWeb.me and then all of our short and your else follow after that it’s easier to remember….

Ken Tucker: 08:25 You can also name those so that they are either abbreviations or something like that. And so in some cases with restaurants I think just posting signs on the in their facility of where they could drive people to. Now if you want to get more robust than that and you really want to manage a review funnel, which I certainly would encourage every restaurant to seriously consider. You can typically have three or four or five review sites, you can have the biggie’s of Google, Yelp and Facebook and you can add maybe an industry specific site or two, or if there’s a local review site that’s pretty important for you to be listed on. Maybe it makes sense to think about that.

Phil Singleton: 09:14 I love it. So basically you’re saying it’s to boil down is, “Hey there’s a way you can make a separate like simple Website where you can send people to you to make it really easy to drive people to the places you want to drive them”.

Phil Singleton: 09:27 And to boil it down for the process to make it super easy for patrons to go take a leave reviews. Say you don’t just let it happen, you can be a little bit more proactive about it.

Ken Tucker: 09:38 That’s right. And you don’t make it. I mean I’m big believer that you shouldn’t have to make your customers work to find you to go write a review about you. So when you create this review page. I mean you literally can just put it on there where people can click a button and boom they go or they go to Yelp or Urbanspoon or whatever site you want to post those customer reviews.

Phil Singleton: 10:00 So these are great. And hopefully in the show notes you probably have an example when you can give me as I can show people specifically here’s what I review funnel looks like.

Phil Singleton: 10:08 I know some of them and I believe yours as the same thing where we can drive customers to the right places.

Phil Singleton: 10:12 But there’s also a great way where we can maybe perhaps capture some negative reviews. Explain that a little bit.

Ken Tucker: 10:20 With a review funnel you can set it out so that based on the rating that somebody is indicating that they’re going to give you, you can either create what I call a review gate where instead of them going and writing a review, you can actually intercept that ad and have them fill out a you know a customer service fee or feedback a message that can be emailed to anybody in your organization. That gives you an opportunity to respond to them and they’re not even going to be shown the list of three or four review websites that you would like for them to go write a review on. That that gives you an opportunity for customer service to take a bad situation or or at least a poor situation make it better. So you can do that and even intercept that even before somebody goes and writes a review.

Ken Tucker: 11:13 Now there’s no way to keep somebody from going directly to the source. So if people you know are going to write a negative review and they know how to go find you and write it directly onto Google for example, there’s not really any way that you can prevent that. And you shouldn’t. I mean I don’t think we let any of us would want to live in a world where you know we’re operated like that. But if you build a review funnel you do have the ability to take on a lot more control and intercept. You know let’s let’s face it. I mean we’ve all had experiences at some point in time in our careers where we found out that somebody wasn’t particularly happy with this and literally had no idea.

Ken Tucker: 11:56 With restaurants when you talk about the volume of customers that they have, I think it’s going to be really important for them to have some facility to capture customer feedback and address that. It’s so much easier to get somebody to come back into your restaurant than it is to them to try for the first time, so you really want to try to hang on to people who have already been a customer is great. To boil it, you can get a review funnel, very simple and easy for people to use.

Phil Singleton: 12:24 They go and we can pick where we want to drive them to in terms of online review site platforms. But then you also mentioned hey when you’re on there, there’s a couple of things that also can happen we can catch a negative review for somebody somewhere else and address it. And one of the other nuances you kind of alluded to but I think kind of supply a little bit more info. It can actually sounds like almost improve your customer service, because if you’re the owner, you don’t know necessarily that some one of your employees is like smiling all the time to you.

Phil Singleton: 12:51 Maybe sometimes the are the nastiest employees we can kind of catch that and if they know that they’re going to be you’re going to be more proactive about this and asking everybody for review that maybe it’s going to actually help your overall customer service improve because it becomes baked into the system.

Ken Tucker: 13:05 Yeah that’s right. That’s a great point.

Phil Singleton: 13:08 So this is fantastic stuff, and I know when we talk about restaurants we talk about reviews, and we’re talking in theory though. I

Phil Singleton: 13:17 mean can you an art without naming any names.

Phil Singleton: 13:23 But you actually use these strategies and tactics and implement them. I’m assuming that you’ve you’ve seen it work in practice with some of your own clients and help people take them from no reviews or minimal reviews and then use a system like this to drastically improve their reputation.

…review funnels…are probably the best ways that restaurants could spend money on an online asset because it just delivers huge value.

–  Ken Tucker

Phil Singleton: 13:37 I mean what we’ve seen in practice and OK we’ve, seen it work for restaurants, what other businesses can this work for I work for, please give us some insight.

Ken Tucker: 13:52 Absolutely it does work. It does work really well as a matter of fact.

Ken Tucker: 13:57 I think for any online strategy that a brick and mortar business, not just a restaurant, a fitness studio or you know a clothing boutique or anyplace like that. This is really one of the probably the best ways that they could spend money on an online asset because it just delivers huge value.

Phil Singleton: 14:19 So this really you would call this one of the biggest bang for the buck tactics for small business and I mean definitely for restaurants and any brick and mortar business should.

Phil Singleton: 14:28 It sounds like there’s no reason not to invest in some type of review strategy.

Restaurant Social Media Marketing Strategies and Tactics

Ken Tucker: 14:33 Yeah absolutely. And you know what’s interesting is we haven’t really talked about social media yet but a great segue.

Phil Singleton: 14:41 Let’s talk a little bit about OK so we’ve addressed restaurants and small businesses in terms of taking control of your reputation before it takes control of you and you do it with a review funnel. Now what other places can we go in terms of social media outlets. because that’s the main topic of your book. Can you give us a little insight into into it restaurants in particular can do there to get more more business and leverage Social Media better.

Ken Tucker: 15:10 I think this idea of social proof is really huge on social media. If you can make it easy and encourage your customers to interact socially while they’re at your place of business. There’s nothing that’s better than that.

Ken Tucker: 15:25 I mean their reach is going to probably far outpace what you could do in some cases and if you already have a large following, I guarantee you that when somebody is there personally and for example if they check in on Facebook and they share that with their friends they’re reaching people who never even knew your business existed. And certainly haven’t liked your Facebook page and so just a simple fact of a check in actually it’s a reputation pla,y because there’s a social group that if somebody is willing to say they checked into a place, they are saying “hey look where I’m at” and people I don’t check in when they’re having a negative experience. So it’s a it’s a very simple way and a very social way to get visibility for your business from the person who’s checking in an announcing to into all their friends on social media.

Ken Tucker: 16:42 Likewise on Snapchat you can encourage people to snap and share their experiences while they’re at the restaurant. By using geo filters or you can do a variety of different things. And I think it’s just a matter of sometimes that we need to ask people to take those steps and not just assume that it’s going to happen. It depends on who your typical customer is. I mean if you’re tailored to an older crowd then obviously it’s going to be much more difficult maybe to get them to be as active on social media. But but but again to the extent that you can get them to take pictures of your food and post them on Instagram or even encourage them by making it easier for them to know what hashtags you want them to be and including in those posts. Or maybe even running some internal contests. There are tools that you can use to run a photo contest where people can enter by posting a picture on Facebook.

Ken Tucker: 17:51 They can also enter just by using a particular hash tag on Twitter or Instagram to be entered into a contest. Food is food and eating and socializing in a restaurant or a bar or Tavern is a perfect thing to encourage people to do and it’s already social by nature of the venue.

Phil Singleton: 18:12 And it’s like one of the things where people are if they are upset you know they’re probably a pretty high chance that they get the negative experience is going to be online.

Phil Singleton: 18:20 it seems like it’s just like you said that sometimes all you got to do is keep this on the top your mind and maybe give a little bit of a push via incentives or making it easy. Because it’s like restaurants, they’re already a social venue obviously. But I think restaurants for many people also people becomes part of their identity or something that’s like in their little favorite box of things to do. So it becomes part of who they are – their favorite restaurants – and it seems like on some of that stuff you know your favorite neighborhood place to go or whatever it is you get some kind of emotional connection to it if you like it right.

Phil Singleton: 19:00 And there’s got to be some way to to pull people in and social media would seem like a natural way to kind of leverage that. It just seems like you get some restaurants, and I’m again you’ve looked at this a lot more closely than I have, it seems like some restaurants really “get it” and they do a really good job of bringing that social piece, and other ones like almost ordered up the line just don’t get it. But it seems like the ones that are more proactive about it are the ones that are able to help them get more business.

Anything that you can do to generate user generated content is really important.

Ken Tucker

Ken Tucker: 19:27 Yeah absolutely. You might see a restaurant that has “like us on Facebook” posted somewhere. But again I’m not a big fan of making anybody work. And also that that’s a real soft ask. I mean I would actually recommend asking them to check in. Ask them to post a picture of their favorite their favorite menu item or something like that. Get them more involved. Maybe even training your waitstaff to do push it. I mean you should definitely train your waitstaff. It helps facilitate reviews, but also even the social sharing because user generated content for every time that that happens, and it’s done in a favorable light, they’re doing your work for you as a restaurant marketer. Anything that you can do to generate user generated content is really important. I think social media makes it as easy as there’s anything that I know of.

Phil Singleton: 20:33 Tons of great restaurant marketing tips here and really appreciate your time. Ken Tucker let’s tell people how they can find you.

Phil Singleton: 20:39 And if there’s anything that you have to offer in terms of some kind of a special offer or deal or anything else that you like to promote once you give it let us know now and we’ll also be sure to you put these in the show notes page.

Ken Tucker: 20:51 Yeah absolutely. So you can reach me via e-mail at ken at changescapeweb.com. The website is changescapeweb.com. And you can find us on most social media at channels. We actually have a series, a webinar, that we’re actually conducting over and over again several times throughout the month of November and early December actually on reputation management. So Phil I’ll get you the information on that of how people can register and and listen to that. We can go it’s a lot deeper dives and talk about data that backs up why reputation management is such foundational and critical element for brick and mortar type businesses like restaurants or boutiques and. And so I’ll get you that that link where people can register for that.

Ken Tucker: 22:01 An then finally, we’ll have this not show notes, but mention the name of your book again and then we’ll make sure we’ve got a link to Amazon for that on the show notes page as well.

Ken Tucker: 22:08 It’s Social Media Marketing for Restaurants and and then also as you mentioned Pill this is actually a book that you and I coauthored with with another colleague of ours Ray Perry the Reputation Management Marketing Guide for small businesses.

Phil Singleton: 22:24 Excellent. Hey man so good to talk to you again. Looking forward to seeing you soon. And thank you so much for being a guest on the show today.

Ken Tucker: 22:33 Thanks so much Phil. I really appreciate it. I always love talking with you. You have tremendous insights and you you’re really a master of what you do.

Phil Singleton: 22:33 Right back at you Ken Tucker.