3 Elements of a No-Fail Social Marketing Campaign: As Told Through Video Games

A few days ago, as I was heading upstairs to do my lights and darks in our shared laundry room, I was surprised to find an honest-to-goodness standalone arcade video game staring me in the face.

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Instantly, a few things ran through my head, such as “I didn’t think the service elevator went to this floor?” and “maybe this is for a scene from the remake of that pinball wizard movie?” Upon further inspection, I came to realize it was a social media marketing campaign stunt by none other than Headquarters Beercade. HQ Beercade is a local Chicago bar in Lakeview that boasts over 37 arcade games, old and new. They are currently in the process of opening up a second location in River North – and are employing a genius marketing technique to do it.

The premise of the campaign is this: “Play a game on us and share your score on social media by tagging it with #HQRiverNorth. Each post earns you an entry into an exclusive drawing: the chance to win an invitation to check out the new HQ Beercade before it opens to the public. Game on!” After I got over my initial excitement, and being the social media marketing nerd that I am, I realized why exactly this social marketing campaign makes so much sense.

Here are 3 ways HQ got it right, and how you can replicate their success:

They know their audience.

HQ Beercade knows who they’re talking to- I speculate they knew exactly what they were doing when they placed an arcade game in the laundry room of my mid-rise apartment building, comprised mostly of mid-twenty to thirty year olds that frequent the River North neighborhood. They knew we’d get a kick out of the novelty of the experience, and that there was a good chance we’d participate.

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They know what their audience is passionate about, and they are passionate about the same thing.

HQ Beercade is in the business of making sure people have a good time while drinking craft beers and playing arcade video games. Did they talk about their drink specials? Nope. They got right down to the business of demonstrating how fun the experience can be – even if it is while you wait for your socks to dry. Their marketing message is clear and simple, and therefore, resonates soundly with their audience.

They know how to use “online” to bring customers “offline.”

In the world of social media, this is probably one of the most important steps in the marketing cycle you can take to ensure your efforts result in conversion – especially if your business goal exists outside of the Internet. You may get great marketing awareness out of it, but it’s not enough to just promote your business online – you’ve got to get people involved with your company and create relationships with your brand. HQ did this perfectly through the design of their promotion. Yes, they will get people talking about the opening by posting pictures of their high scores to social platforms – but each post gets you an entry to actually attend a pre-launch event. In person. Before anyone else. How cool will THAT experience be?! That will create not only buzz, but also loyal customers who have engaged with the brand and will visit time and time again.

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In conclusion, it is important to remember the simple elements of what makes social marketing campaigns successful. You will never get your customer to engage if you aren’t giving them what they want. To be successful, you need to really listen to your customer’s needs, and make sure your marketing efforts align with delivering fulfillment.

3 Ways to Improve Your Restaurant’s Social Media Marketing

Think about the last time you went out to eat. Did you wander down the street and go into the first place that looked good? Maybe you did… but more likely, you probably already had a place in mind you read about on a foodie blog or in the paper. Or, you asked your friends and family for a recommendation. Or maybe you loaded up Urbanspoon and let a shake of your phone seal your dining fate. Nowadays, people are increasingly conducting research to make more informed decisions on everything from buying a house to eating dinner.

So if diners are paying close attention to restaurant’s online presences and social media marketing efforts, what happens if you aren’t using social media to its fullest potential? Here are 3 easy ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of your efforts:

1. Make Connections

Sure, social media marketing is a great tool for restaurants to reach their audience. It’s easy to tweet your daily specials, list them on your Facebook page, and talk about your upcoming events – but that’s not all people want to hear. One of the best ways to use social platforms to your advantage and get the most long-term ROI is to make lasting connections with your fans and followers. Don’t just tell them about your specials, ask if they enjoyed them—or what deals they’d like to see. Social platforms are also a great way to manage customer service and take the pulse of how people feel about your restaurant and service, to make sure it’s the best it can be.

2. Make It Visual

The web, social and mobile platforms have begun to put serious importance on visuals. Content consumption is fast paced and to the point – the saying a picture is worth a thousand words has never been truer. Brands are seeing a severe decrease in engagement with text-based posts. Luckily, eating is a sensory-focused activity, and food is one of the most photo-worthy subjects in existence. Take your restaurant’s social media marketing plan and make it visually intriguing by showcasing the vibrant colors of your seasonal salad, or even a behind-the-scenes look at how your signature dish is prepared. And don’t forget to consider lighting and color: natural light works better than a flash, and warmer hues make food look more appetizing than cool ones.

3. Make Their Experience

Okay, you’ve got great visuals, lots of conversation and reviews are climbing. While these are signs of success, you don’t eat dinner on the Internet. Make sure to encourage customers to get off their computers and come into your restaurant. You can incentivize them to make the online-offline connection by offering online only, in-store redeemable coupons. Or you can invite them to participate in a contest, and stop by to enter. Whatever you do, make sure to highlight the experience of what your restaurant has to offer.

These are just a few keys to successfully marketing your restaurant on social media. Want more insight? Contact us for ways to help you stand out on social. In the meantime, what do you think is the most important factor to online reputation success for restaurants?

Food Truck and Social Media: A Delicious Harmony of Marketing

A new industry is emerging in the world of eats—and it’s growing at an accelerated rate. Dubbed “the shooting stars of lunchtime” (shout out to Chicago Magazine) food trucks have become all the rage. Serving everything from cupcakes to grilled cheese, soup to tamales—and everything else in between—these meals on wheels are surefire crowd pleasers for any time of day.

The popularity of food trucks is fast moving, for sure, but when you’re never in the same place at the same time, how do you develop a dependable relationship with your customers? That’s where another newly emerging market comes in: social media. With similar reliance on speed and flexibility, social media and food trucks go together like peanut butter and jelly. I had the opportunity to talk with a number of food trucks to get the low-down on how they have utilized social media to bring their brand online.

One of the most popular uses for social media, it seems, is to be able to inform customers, especially about location and new product offerings. Since food trucks historically don’t have reliable brick and mortar addresses, it is important for companies to be able to quickly inform their customers of their whereabouts.

“Social media definitely allows us to be more flexible. With the industry being relatively new, a lot of times we have to be able to think on our feet. Most of the places we go are pre-vetted—but sometimes we have to switch locations at the drop of a dime, and we rely heavily on social media for that,” said Toasty Cheese Mobile Eatery Director of Parties & Events Gina Veneziano.

Owner and “Soupologist” of Soups in the Loop, Chugger Lupo, favors marketing his food truck over social media channels for the speed of information delivery.

“Instead of printing and mailing thousands of flyers, we are able to reach out to our customer base instantly with menu updates, daily deals and upcoming specials.

Food trucks also popularly use social media in order to create an ongoing dialogue with their customers, rather than solely hawking their products. Creating a relatable and engaging brand personality to foster relationships with customers is a valuable way to make connections and increase repeat customers. Visitors can quickly ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ their experiences, which results in solid word of mouth marketing, and creates buzz for the brand and product. However, this function does not come without complications.

“With social media being so real-time and easy to quickly talk about the products, it’s just as easy for people to complain. They could be posting right then and there on our Twitter, and it’s out there in front of everyone right away,” said Veneziano.

Overall, social media offers a direct line between companies looking to deliver information with both flexibility and speed to their customers and the industry. Although this all-access avenue can sometimes create complications, the benefits always outweigh the risks.

“The feedback we receive from our customers—whether it be constructive criticism or positive praise—helps us to become the best food truck, and standard in soup, on the streets of Chicago we can be,” said Lupo.

Follow both trucks on Twitter at @SoupsInTheLoop and @MyToastyCheese.