Social media: A necessary evil?

March 26, 2012 | by Janet Eden-Harris

Market Force just completed a consumer study of social media usage. Not surprisingly, every year we've looked at usage we've seen the numbers going up. About half say they 'like' to use social media. Fifteen percent say they LOVE it.  But 7% think it's a necessary evil. 

In our work with restaurant organizations, I suspect if I were to ask them to tell me honestly, many restaurants would fall in this 'necessary evil' camp. But one thing jumped off the page to me when I looked through our findings. When it comes to interacting with restaurants in social media, consumers overwhelmingly use their facebook pages and other social media outlets in a positive way. Check this out:

  • 86% of consumers said they had ‘liked’ (tagged) a restaurant chain in the past 90 days. Why? Because of promotions and to get information about their event.
  • Almost the same percentage of people said they read a post from a vendor vs. friends. And a third of those reading a vendor post said it influenced where they would choose to do business.

If that isn’t incentive to jump online, I’m not sure what is.
The big fear, of course, is that someone will go on to rant about a negative experience. There are effective ways to handle that circumstance. We work with a number of clients to help them monitor online chatter, and if there is a consumer issue, invite them to give us feedback in a secure website. Those same people are then empowered to ‘make things right,’ whether with a coupon, a note from the staff, or escalating it for restaurant management to address.

Social media is not a necessary evil. It’s a new, and often cost effective means to interact with your consumers and get them into your locations. Jump on in!

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

Janet Eden-Harris / Janet Eden-Harris is the CMO and SVP of Strategy for Market Force Information. She joined Market Force from J.D. Power and Associates, where she was VP of its Web Intelligence unit.
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