A pizza social media manager's guide to 'taming the online beast'

A pizza social media manager's guide to 'taming the online beast'

Distilled from an original article by Elliot Maras on sister site, Foodtruckoperator.com 

Pizza restaurateurs who man the helm of their social media channels have to develop titanium spines to daily withstand the onslaught of customers 'having a bad day' and online ne-er-do-wells looking for a little sick fun. One social media manager of a major brand put it this way when referring to the worst of the tweeters out there: "They're brutal! Seriously, people can really be mean!"

But even the most unflappable social media veteran might be impressed by these Conversocial and Reviewtracker statistics on the sheer power and scope of the channel brought to light at the recent Fast Casual Executive Summit in Nashville

  • More than half (54 percent) take to social media instead of phone or email when they have a bone to pick or more rarely, a compliment to voice, about a brand.
  • Thirty percent of those commenters and questioners wait more than 30 minutes for a response. 
  • More than a fourth (27.5 percent) of all those social media posts managers toil over are ignored completely.
  • The following five review sites comprise 96 percent of online reviews, including Yelp (29 percent), Facebook (28 percent), TripAdvisor (26 percent), Google (9 percent) and Foursquare (4 percent).

Market Force Managing Director Brad Christian highlighted those findings before he and three restaurant industry panelists plunged into the whole topic of the challenges presented in managing social media, which everybody agreed franchisors must help franchisees manage. 

Mooyah Burger's Natalie Anderson Liu.             

Photo: Matt Tilbury

Mooyah Burgers Fries & Shakes tracks and responds to all social media comments, according to Marketing VP Natalie Anderson Liu, who said the company also actively coaches its franchisees on response to customer comments. In fact, the company must approve franchisee responses as well. 

Liu said customers often provide more extensive reviews on Facebook and Yelp, the latter of which she said tends to get the more negative reviews. In response, all customers who post ratings of three stars or less (on a one-to-five star scale) receive responses from the brand within 24 hours, Liu said. More positive reviews receive response within 72 hours.

While the company doesn't notice a lot of negative feedback on Twitter, it is nonetheless an important platform to manage, Liu said, since customers often want to see their tweets re-tweeted.

At Freshii, social media managers engage customers in real-time, said Marketing VP Melissa Gallagher, who added that the more a company engages customers on social media, the more negative comments the company typically receives. 

Gallagher said people usually post positive comments on Instagram, but are more likely to tweet negatively. 

Freshii's Melissa Gallagher.

Photo Matt Tilbury

"We need to be reactive on that platform," Gallagher said.

Franchisees need direction

Christian asked the panelists how well the company's franchisees adhere to their brand's best practices for social media, to which Liu said typically a lot of coaching is needed since franchisees often get very emotional. 

Mooyah Burgers Fries & Shakes teaches franchisees to believe the customer, listen to them, apologize for any problem and fix the problem. The company instructs franchisees to separate themselves from the heat of the moment.

Hu Hot Mongolian Grill Franchise Development Director Laura Sporrer said brand leadership is well aware that many franchisees will have little experience addressing social media comments. That's why the company offers to manage social media for them, wherein the brand tends to encourage customers to be upfront about their experiences and will sometimes handle complaints offline if the situation warrants it. 

As a result, she said the brand has had success, as proven when customers end up raising their ratings on social media for the brand. She said Hu Hot also likes to highlight franchisee success stories via social media, which is handled by the corporate marketing department. However, she said she expects operations will be more involved in managing social media in the future since it's part of customer service.

Hu Hot's Laura Sporrer
Photo: Matt Tilbury

Freshii also instructs franchisees to acknowledge the customer's complaint, while never making light of it, Gallagher said. In fact, she said in all cases —100 percent of the time — the company has been able to "recover" guests who have aired complaints. 

Gallagher said Freshii asks its franchisees also to work to improve their social media ratings since the company has correlated improved ratings to better sales. But, Gallagher and Liu both stated that franchisees are also given a certain amount of freedom in managing social media content.

For instance, Freshii franchisees can post their own content and in some cases, the brand's franchisees have found success hiring their own social media content providers. Likewise, Liu said Mooyah encourages franchisees to have their own social media pages.

Among the take-aways from this session then, is a clear sense that social media management is at best an inexact science. But managers try hard to be proactive, even though they are often tested with situations that demand reactive, but calm, informed and respectful responses. Franchisees have a role in that, but often need their corporate partners to show them the way. 

Take part in more great sessions like this one by registering now for the 2018 Fast Casual Executive Summit in Seattle. 

Feature photo: iStock


Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Customer Service / Experience, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Online / Mobile / Social, Product Reviews


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