Story telling on Social media
Restaurants and Bars are a rich resource for stories, and social media has created unprecedented platforms and audiences for sharing them. Start telling stories...
Most chefs and barmen are natural storytellers. We can often be spotted at social gatherings telling tall-tales and true experiences to crowds with tales of impossible guests and improbable situations. At the same time we typically remains discrete carefully editing details to ensure those customers keep coming back.
Restaurants and Bars are a rich resource for stories, and social media has created unprecedented platforms and audiences for sharing them. Yet this storytelling talent isn’t always present in social media from F&B, where content often leans toward the bland and unoriginal update on menu items. So learn to spice it up.
The challenge is, we already have no time to do the basic technical and updating requirements of a successful social media program, who then has time for creativity? But as more and more people research and select their restaurant of choice online but more importantly have to search for their own content for their own social media sites, our ability to communicate our unique offerings, to drive consumer support for our businesses, and to build loyalty has never been more important. And nothing accomplishes this quite like good storytelling.
So your new role in the modern environment is to both create stories and then tell them- on social media.
Identify your regulars who tell stories
Have your staff chat with your regulars to identify who has bogs and active facebook sites. If you want your stories and presence online, you need to know who your advocates are. Identify those who blog and then have someone read their bog- if its interesting then maybe they can become your own personal PR person, conveying their experiences in your businesses to their followers. And when these regulars return make a little effort togive them an interesting time with you. Give them some content to put in their own blogs and facebook sites.
Create great Stories
On Monday your place will be full of expectant loving couples seeking a great Valentines experience. AND... loads of them will be taking puictures for their memories and their facebook sites. What a great opportunity for your guests to create their own stories about. And you don't have to do it to everyone. Brief the team to identify worthy people- he's working overseas and they meet only four times a year- make a siong and dance about it, and they'll return the favour. As will those who are around the couple will also wite about it as well.
You can also tell stories yourself- online.
OK, Why tell stories? In the age of social media, to stay relevant online we need to think like a publisher and communicate like a storyteller. Your guests are telling stories about your businesses on review sites and social media platforms, and while we can't control the conversation, we can influence it, and we can create and own our own story. The more interesting and relevant to your guests the content you create, the more it will be remembered and shared, and the greater traffic it will drive to your website and booking channels.
Start with your core story. A good story has compelling characters, an appealing setting, an intriguing plot, and an easily identifiable genre- think like writing a movie or a TV series. For a F&B Business, these elements are your staff, location, guest experience, and style of business. Write these elements into your core story and post it to your website and social media profiles. Then share fragments of this story on social media channels that compel readers to click to find out more. Are you a family restaurant- then the family are the stars, and their interactions are the plot- think like an American sitcom, or drama- and post stories about how the family interacts and what fun and exciting things come from this. Now you can maybe involve your diners into the drama as well- and on Valentines day- why can the staff celebrate the Owner and her Husband's Valentines as well- bring her out of the kitchen and him from behind the account books and celebrate like a family-- with your guests like cousins joining the family celebration.
"In crafting your story, work as a group to imagine the stories you want your guests sharing with others once they leave your place," advises Bill Baker of BB&Co Strategic Storytelling, whose clients include Hotel Group Relais & Châteaux. "Envision what you want those guests doing, thinking, and feeling to create those stories and, most importantly, get your staff to see their role in making those stories happen."
Dramatize description. Lists of features and benefits in your place are helpful but a bit dull; they’re far more compelling when woven into stories. Events and special occasions are great for this, as are slice-of-life updates on Facebook and Twitter. Like this Facebook update from Brewster House in Freeport, Maine: “Cute couple got engaged here last night. Now enjoying champagne and blueberry-stuffed French toast.” The subtext? Romance, excitement, and scrumptious breakfast. Again, think of Monday- will a couple get engaged in your place- be ready and prepared- champagne, camera, take photos and post to your site (after getting their permission).
Speak to your audience. When we read a book or watch a movie, if we identify with the hero or herone character, we form an emotional connection. Similarly, most diners want to know how they’ll fit into your story and how you’ll fulfill their needs and desires, especially on Valentines. Remeber your guests become your critics, sharing their stories in reviews and social media feedback about how well they enjoyed their time with you so make their time with you interesting.
Take a page from the book of online reviews. Travelers tune out hotel marketers because of our propensity to tell fairytales and fantasy. Instead they turn to online reviews for the real story. And the same with restaurant websites- they take your descriptions of ambience and menu with a pinch of salt. Reviews by your guests should contain all the elements of good storytelling: a handsome hero and beautiful heroine, a strong story, a moral or lesson learnt, some humor—and yes, an occasional myth and melodrama. Again think about TV and movies and how they build in stories. Think about these ideas and some elements of reality in your stories to capture the attention of guests. And now as an example, back to Valentines, and the couple that meet four times a year, and he's just proposed- and you've brought the champagne. Wow- what a scene- handsome hero, beautiful heroine, going through adversity to achieve their aim. You're there cheering them on. Maybe he's lost the ring- drama. Or he fell over getting on his knees- humour. Build a story for your website about the most romantic Valentines in 2011. Maybe other media will pick it up from your site and you'll get extra publicity. Maybe your PR team can send a release out to generate publicity... again with the couple's permission.
Show , don’t tell. Online we all have the attention span of three-year-olds at Toys ‘R Us: we’re drawn to shiny, moving objects and escape large blocks of static text- like this. Use images to bring your stories to life; pictures bring events to life but it should be professional, entertaining, and support your business positioning. Have you a skilled photographer on staff- maybe you should take a photography course and then take the pictures?
Editorial, not advertorial. Blogs and social media platforms are often used as dumping grounds for media releases, specials, and the latest discounts on discounts. Those aren’t stories for your potential guests, they’re commercials. Put a unique, non-salesy spin on promotional content, and balance it with original, editorial-style content. And remember that the most compelling, authentic stories are told by your guests. Listen to them, learn, and encourage them to share. End of story.
So have an enjoyable Valentines 2011 and make lots of stories about it, and other upcoming events.