I’m a fan of after-work beers with friends and colleagues on Fridays. It’s just something I’ve taken to, after working in the marketing industry for so many years. One of my favorite haunts is Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar, inside Waterfront Station. For après-work, it’s conveniently near all the transit options. More importantly, though, it has a fabulous beer-on-tap selection. Did I mention it used to be mere blocks away from our old October 17 Media offices? I digress.
Since I’m an online marketer, I often check in on Foursquare or Facebook when I visit somewhere interesting. In Rogue’s case, when I checked in on Foursquare, I was happy to see they had a check-in special geared at making me come back for more (beer, as it were!). Now that’s smart marketing and smart business.
I bet you’re wondering what the promotion was. Well, Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar offers the following to people who check-in on Foursquare: Check in for the first time, and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org your server’s name and fave dish. We will mail you a gift certificate for a complimentary beer during your next visit!
You may also be wondering what the heck Foursquare is. Let me enlighten you. Foursquare is a mobile application for smartphones that lets you keep up with friends, discover what’s nearby, save money and unlock rewards. The beauty of a promotion like this for a small business is that the friends of the person who has checked in will see that they’re at Rogue. This is a brilliant way to create Rogue’s brand recognition. Perhaps the friends will want to pop down and join their buddy.
This promotion also encourages the mobile-savvy customer to come back again. The Foursquare user can leave tips for other Foursquare users, and even a photo of the great time they’re having.
At the time I’m writing this article, Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar has some impressive Foursquare statistics. With over 3,593 check-ins from just 1,688 people, it’s obvious that people are coming back! Users have uploaded 38 photos at the restaurant, and dozens and dozens of user-generated tips ranging from what appetizer to order, to what the WiFi password happens to be.
Small business owners can easily customize their own Foursquare by going to https://foursquare.com/business/ to claim their venue or create a special. The process is very simple. All you have to do is search for your location (it’s probably already in their directory), claim it and then verify you’re the manager via phone or e-mail. I’d then recommend you set up a special promotion to attract new and existing customers to participate.
If you’re going to run a special for your small business, I’d suggest:
• Running two specials at once. That way, you can target two different groups. For example: one for your loyal customers and another for new ones.
• Try to assign some trackable metrics to your specials, and then record how each compares.
Foursquare offers some great advice on how to encourage your patrons to check in. They explain on their website, “When you claim your business on Foursquare, we send you a Foursquare window-cling to remind people to check in. While there’s no best way to promote your presence, we’ve seen some pretty awesome things. Arby’s reserves tables for mayors (you become a mayor when you check in at a location more than anyone else in a given month). Walgreen’s posts Foursquare stickers in all their stores. And, countless businesses use Twitter, Facebook, and their sidewalk blackboards to promote their Foursquare presence.”
I tracked down Matt Mazur, the owner of Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar’s social media feed. I asked him a few questions about their online marketing strategies. Matt explained, “We run Twitter promotions, Foursquare and Yelp specials, and Facebook contests. Social media have helped us see significant increases in loyal local guests at our restaurant, and we are surpassing 250,000 impressions a week on our social feeds.”
Contests seem to be an easy way for people to build fans and followers through social media. Matt let me know that Rogue runs “several monthly contests and has learned that keeping them simple and fun is the magic key to its success. Some examples of contests we have run are:
• Your best excuse to get out of work;
• Your best hangover cure;
• Best acronym meaning for R.O.G.U.E.”
I asked Matt to describe one of Rogue’s more successful campaigns. He told me about their ongoing Canadian Tire Cash offer. “We accept Canadian Tire money as cash in the restaurant at par. Truthfully, this promo has generated quite a bit of ongoing buzz through our social networks, and always generates great feedback and re-tweets! Not too many people have a stack of $100 worth of Canadian Tire Cash at home, but occasionally people will come in with between $2 to $4 worth, so it all works out.”
He then remembered, “Actually, someone tweeted in the other day that he’d collected $46 in Canadian Tire Cash! It’ll be great to see him walk into Rogue with a briefcase full of Canadian Tire Cash.”
Matt said a contest without engagement is pretty pointless. “We pride ourselves on engagement. Engagement is the goal behind all of our contests and promotions.” In order to engage people, Rogue uses a number of online apps to track the progress of their contest and promos. They review them weekly. Each app provides them with different insights on their progress. Their favourite tools are:
• Sprout Social
• Twitter Counter.
The success isn’t just in the tools, however. Rogue has learned that posting trackable website links is a must. It helps them discover which promotions and ideas are getting the most engagement.
One of the other benefits of using social media and mobile-phone-based feedback is the ability to get feedback from followers and fans. Matt said, “Rogue prides itself on listening to guests and responding to their feedback and questions in real time. We collect the information and share it with the management, kitchen and service teams so we can improve the way we run our restaurant.”
Tamara Brooks is a self-described social media addict and co-owner of October 17 Media, a Vancouver-based digital marketing agency. Tamara helps organizations leverage online tools to grow their brands and revenue, working with clients such as Future Shop, Park Royal, North Vancouver Recreation Commission, North Shore News, The City of Richmond and others. Tamara@October17media.com • www.October17media.com.