Social media marketing is indeed slowly taking over the public relations scene. Restaurants and other food establishments now schmooze with bloggers and influential Twitter scribes for their restaurants’ promotional campaigns, instead of the usual newspaper writers, TV reporters and politicians.
Such was the case when Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza had their grand opening this month, where they organized a tweet-up, a gathering of people who tweets using Twitter. They invited significant social media people with a hefty number of online followers to their VIP dinner, hoping that the online marketers would talk about the event on Twitter and Facebook. The organizers looked forward to the positive feedback that the bloggers and tweeters would post about the food and drinks that the apron-clad waiters served, realizing that with one single post, these people can reach thousands of followers.
Tweet-ups are now considered as strong marketing and advertising tools to promote a restaurant. It’s one of the most inexpensive ways to reach a restaurant’s current customer base and create a loyal clientele—simply done by providing those with common interests a venue to meet-up. Hosting a tweet-up proves to be a worthwhile effort, as other than helping these people build a community and promote networking, these very same people who came to the place will tweet positively about their dining experience and just might bring back their parties and meetings to the venue, remembering how hospitable the hosts have been to them.
Tweet-ups are pretty much ubiquitous these days, all for a variety of reasons. Some for social motives (a group who calls themselves nerds had a tweet-up last week), others for promotional and public relations (NASA is planning to have one for its followers this August), or simply just for purposes of bonding and getting to know each other. For whatever reason there is, one common denominator that tweet-ups have is the participants’ collective interest on a particular subject. Unlike TV commercials and newspaper write-ups that target a whole range of audience with different interests, tweet-ups narrow down the market. The targeted market for restaurant tweet-ups are those interested in dining-out and food, with higher chances of visiting the place and becoming actual customers.
O’Connell & Goldberg, the South Florida public relations company that organized Anthony’s grand opening, calculated that 50 tweets spawned by six people through the duration of the two-hour tweet-up is hoped to reach23,438 distinctive Twitter users, making a total of 145,770 impressions. An impression is tallied every time an online user sees the tweet, even if they only see it from another user who just retweeted the original message. This impact does not yet include the people’s postings or comments on their Facebook pages or blogs in regards to their reaction to the dinner.
“Positive word of mouth, as always, works. Social media is just an evolution of word of mouth, a modern day version,” says Anthony Bruno, the pizza chain’s founder.
Sandi McKenna, co-host of online multimedia travel show Midlife Road Trip, tweeted to her over 13,000 followers that she enjoyed the dinner that night. Jen Straw, author of the blog Miss Attitude, was as pleased with the food and the restaurant’s apron-clad servers, and made her own few tweets, too. Straw also represents wine shop and bar Cru Cellars in South Tampa, have organized various tweet-ups herself, and confirmed that such marketing efforts indeed generate new revenue for the company.
When McDonald’s unveiled their Angus Snack Wrap, their advertising firm organized a tweet-up, allowing all the attendees to be the first to taste the new wrap before it was presented to customers across the U.S. Two weeks ago, some followers of their @MCDTampaBay Twitter account jokingly prodded them that the chain should do a similar event for the Rollo McFlurry. They heeded their followers’ request by coming up with a tweet-up of around 40 guests, who each received a snack-size version of the product. As they said, this is actually what social media is all about – a closer giving and taking interaction between brand and people, sharing a common interest and making things easier for everyone in the process.