Snapchat: An Unexpected Restaurant Marketing Tool

Note: This article was initially published on the WebTV network site Foodable on 7/26/16.


What do Snapchat and the fast casual restaurant industry have in common? They are both the fastest growing entities in their respective fields. Although it may seem like the restaurant and social media industries are completely different, they often work together to provide success for one another.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Snapchat surpassed Twitter in daily usage earlier this month. A 4-year-old app was able to defeat a 10-year-old internet giant.

Fast casual similarly bested a restaurant giant. Quick-service restaurants, otherwise known as fast food chains, have dominated the restaurant industry for decades. However, since the turn of the century, the demand for a healthier option from has grown. QSR Magazine reported that fast casual is the fastest growing restaurant type in the world for this very reason.

The main consumer audience of both Snapchat and fast casual restaurants is composed the generational group Millennials, whose ages range from 16 to 36. Living in the information age, Millennials have easy access to data that generations before didn’t. They understand that despite fast food being both a quick and convenient option, it is very unhealthy. (Need advice on winning Millennials over? Read this.)

In response, Millennials have become the dominant buyers in the fast casual industry. They were responsible for both the demand that led to the creation of the industry, as well as composing its main customer base. This trend is made evident inFoodable Network’s 2016 Super Millennial Report.

According to the report, Millennials make up the largest generational group in the United States. In turn, they hold roughly $200 billion in annual buying power. More than half of these Millennials use social media regularly. Social Times stated that 59 percent of Millennials use Twitter. The American Press Institute said 88 percent of Millennials get their news from Facebook. The combination of their avid social media consumption and their massive buying power is an important relationship for restaurants to take note of — and it’s clear that many already have.

You can’t use Facebook or Twitter without seeing a restaurant advertisement. It’s nearly impossible. However, a severely underused platform is Snapchat. As discussed, Snapchat has become the most popular mobile social media platform, mainly thanks to Millennials.

Millennials clearly love both Snapchat and fast casual dining. Naturally, the two were meant for each other.

How QSRs Have Used Snapchat

Taco Bell is famous for kicking off its Snapchat launch with an exclusive product announcement. Followers were treated to a first look at the Beefy Crunch Burrito. While this is now a staple on the Taco Bell menu, this was the first consumers ever saw of it. Taco Bell’s Snapchat has only evolved from there, introducing exclusive filters and even short films to the platform.

While Taco Bell’s Snapchat is well known for its exclusive product announcements, IHOP’s account is famous for its filters.

An article by M-Mersed explained, “by creating a very closely geo-fenced space (IHOP restaurants) rather than a broader regional geo-filter or typical sponsored filter (nationwide), IHOP created a sense of exclusiveness around the experience.”

In other words, IHOP created filters that can only be applied to snaps and sent while users are inside the restaurant. This aura of exclusivity attracted customers, as they felt they were special by being in on this “filter club” of sorts.

Smashburger and Snapchat

This success wasn’t simply achieved by random chance. According to a Restaurant Business Online, Smashburger reveals exclusive content and gives out coupons through Snapchat. It’s clear that these benefits are working, as the same report states that 65 percent of Smashburger’s Snapchat followers watch their videos all the way through.

Through the 6,800 reported in-store Snapchat coupon redemptions, we can see evidence of successful marketing achieved via said social media platform.

Now armed with knowledge, you may be interested in using Snapchat for your fast casual. You can strictly follow the Smashburger model, mainly releasing exclusive coupons and premiering new products; it has clearly been successful. You can also follow the Taco Bell and IHOP models, which involve exclusive filters and Smashburger-esque product announcements. However, there are plenty more steps you can take to reap the benefits of the little mobile ghost.

Snapchat Strategies

Before even launching your Snapchat account, you must make this action known. An article by Maximize Social Business encourages fast casual chains to advertise the creation of their Snapchat account on their pre-existing social media pages, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This will create an instant follower base (one that will grow over time) to work with. Smashburger, Taco Bell, and IHOP all took this approach, and have been reaping the benefits ever since.

An article by Next Restaurants encourages fast casual employees to offer discounts for customers who Snapchat photos and videos of their food to their friends. This will serve two purposes. Customers will be pleased with said discounts and return to the restaurant in the future. In addition, the friends of said customers will receive enticing photos of food, encouraging them to come in for themselves, and, eventually, become regular customers. You are killing two birds with one snap.

You can also avoid the middleman in this process entirely by simply sending pictures of food to the chain’s pre-existing Snapchat followers yourself. However, this will limit both the audience of your snaps, and the amount of new customers obtained through said snaps. This is mainly because your Snapchat followers are usually already loyal customers; you are trying to attract new consumers.

Your Social Chef encourages chains to provide Snapchat followers with behind-the-scenes content. A popular method of achieving this is to film snaps in the kitchen, showcasing how the chain’s food is prepared and served. You may also give followers a dive into the corporate sector of the chain, giving them a deeper look into the intellect behind the restaurant they love. This method of Snapchat communication will allow fans to feel even more connected to your chain, perhaps even feel like they are “part of the family.” With connection comes loyalty; returning customers will continue to return, and perhaps even try to get their friends and family into the chain, providing you with new customers.

Oracle suggests partnering up with ticket sales companies and giving away tickets to popular events. These may include films, sport games, plays, and concerts. What is popular to your customer base may differ on a location-to-location basis. Therefore, you must narrow down the events you choose to those that will be popular with the customer bases of the most locations possible. You can give out exclusive codes via Snapchat; the first redeemer is the winner of the tickets. However, you can also advertise a hashtag, use of which on Twitter or Instagram will enter the user into a lottery to win said tickets. The article cited Chat Sports’ Snapchat as a model of this technique.

“The company last year offered existing followers a chance to win tickets to a local sports game if they convinced five friends to add Chat Sports on Snapchat. Those five friends then sent a unique image to Chat Sports that included the name of the referring Snapchat friend and the hashtag #gimmetickets. Some 150 people responded within 48 hours,” the articlesaid.

Although this is not the most efficient method of giving out event tickets to your loyal Snapchat followers, it was a pioneering technique that evolved over time.

An article by Carolina Social Media recommends sending followers exclusive passwords. These passwords can be used in a number of ways. Line skipping, free or discounted food, free chain paraphernalia; the list goes on. Customers will be required to give these passwords to an employee, most likely a register operator. This technique will encourage loyal customers to remain loyal. In addition, these customers will spread the word of these passwords, encouraging more followers. You risk the possibility of followers posting these passwords online or spreading them orally, but that is a risk that many Snapchat marketing techniques face.

Oracle’s piece also makes a point of reminding you to remind your audience. An essential way for your chain to benefit from Snapchat marketing is through reminders. Remind your audience of what you have to offer. Whether it be an event, sale, product premiere, or giveaway, keep reminding your users of what you have to offer through regular snaps, as opposed to just one disappearing announcement. Customers will likely forget about these offers unless you repeat yourself. However, it is important not to go too far with reminders. Make sure you don’t spam their Snapchat feed, or you will risk losing followers, and, in turn, customers.

There are a massive amount of Snapchat marketing techniques that your fast casual chain can implement. It is important to understand which of these methods will work best for your particular chain. Choosing the wrong technique could be worse than not using Snapchat at all. However, if you assess your audience, and follow some of the steps above, your fast casual chain will reap the benefits.

Google Chrome is Trying to Eliminate the Need for Flash

Note: This article was initially published on the digital marketing site DigitalCoCo on 8/10/16.


download (5).jpegFlash: what once was one of the most popular plug-ins for video, gaming and animation on the internet, is on its last legs. According to a report by the Guardian, ever since YouTube, formerly the most prominent Flash-heavy website,ceased using the format in January 2015, Flash has been slowly fading into the depths of obscurity.

However, the true nail in the coffin may be closer than we think. A CNET report explained that Google has announced plans to expedite Flash’s inevitable demise by removing it from their own browser, Google Chrome. They cited battery drainage and security issues as the two most apparent reasons behind Google’s upcoming abandonment of the format.

The void that the removal of Flash will leave behind will not remain empty. Google plans to replace the format with HTML5. defines HTML5 as the newest version of HTML, the most common programing language used to construct websites. But unlike its predecessors HTML5 will be able to support audio and video content, a feature once dominated by Flash.

“Google said the change will lead to improved security, reduced power consumption and faster page load times,” said CNET’s report.

They explained that this process will not be immediate. Chrome 53’s September release will begin to remove emphasis from Flash by blocking all flash-based content. However, the full replacement will occur in December, with the release of Chrome 55.

A statement by Adobe, the company behind Flash, explained, “Google’s decision is part of this industry-wide evolution that Adobe is heavily invested in.”

WhatsApp Introduces Desktop Version of the Popular Messaging Platform

Note: This article was initially published on the digital marketing site DigitalCoCo on 7/27/16.


download (4).jpegWhatsApp is, without a doubt, the most popular messaging app (see report). Over one billion people of the Earth’s seven billion population actively use the platform. With something this successful, it makes no sense to change the formula, right? After all, the saying is don’t fix what isn’t broken. WhatsApp isn’t taking that adage for an answer.

According to a report by Forbes, WhatsApp launched its desktop app for both Mac and Windows computers. From now on, WhatsApp users will be able to browse the internet without having to stop their conversation.

Forbes cited a blog post from the official WhatsApp site, quoting, “Because the app runs natively on your desktop, you’ll have support for native desktop notifications, better keyboard shortcuts, and more.”

Although undoubtedly excited about these features, WhatsApp users may worry that they will have to manage two separate accounts (one for mobile and another for desktop). This is not the case.

“The apps sync with a WhatsApp user’s account on their mobile device, once they’ve downloaded them and scanned a QR code from inside Settings > WhatsApp Web on the mobile app,” the report explained.

Although this may seem like a fresh new direction for the platform, this isn’t WhatsApp’s first endeavour into the computer world. WhatsApp launched a web browser app in 2015. However, the new desktop app will alleviate the issue of having to sift through tabs to find your chats.

The report notes the risk that the desktop app’s launch posed. Competition has become more tense amongst desktop messaging services. Messengers such as Slack and AIM will need to step up their game in order to compete with the chatting giant.

This new app may even appeal to businesses. As WhatsApp provides free international communication, it could serve as an invaluable tool for international corporations. They now have a quick and easy alternative method to speak with their overseas partners.

Evidently, WhatsApp’s move to desktop is a big step forward for the messaging industry. Not only will it possibly lead millions of users to another form of WhatsApp, but it will strengthen its position in competition. WhatsApp’s desktop app is a great new tool for both the average computer user, and large businesses. Read more

Chipotle is Tackling the Better-Burger Movement

Note: This article was initially published on the fast casual restaurant trade site The Chipotle Effect on 8/10/16.


download (3).jpegChipotle, the chain that many consider to be the pioneer of the fast casual industry, is taking its next big step. The company has tackled other cuisine types before, exemplified by their ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen franchise. However, Chipotle is now hopping on a growing fast casual trend.

According to a report by Nation’s Restaurant News, Chipotle proved the circulating rumors true by announcing its newest franchise, Tasty Made. Debuting in Lancaster, Ohio, this fall, the chain will serve burgers, fries, and shakes.

In order to find success in the ever-growing better-burger movement, the report explains that Tasty Made will be using the same sustainable ingredient policies that define its parent franchise.

“As at Chipotle’s other concepts, Tasty Made burgers will use Responsibly Raised beef from animals raised humanely without the use of antibiotics or added hormones,” the report stated.

This approach will also apply to their shakes, which will be made with no preservatives or artificial ingredients.

NRN cites this business move as the next step in the recovery process from the foodborne illness outbreak Chipotle experienced last fall (for more information on this process: read more).

Chipotle simultaneously announced Nate Appleman and David Chrisman as the head developers of Tasty Made.

According to an article by San Diego Eater, Appleman joined Chipotle in 2010, and was one of the main forces behind the creation of ShopHouse. The NRN report said Chrisman has worked for Chipotle for over 17 years, recently taking the mantle of national training director for the franchise.

NRN noted a striking resemblance between Tasty Made and popular west-coast chain In-N-Out Burger. Both have similar ingredient policies and menus. However, In-N-Out has no plans to upgrade to a national scale, so competition won’t be too intense between the two.

These Restaurant Apps are Popular Amongst Eaters

Note: This article was initially published on the restaurant trade site Restaurant Social Media Index on 7/20/16.


download (2).jpegSocial media, particularly on the mobile app spectrum, is one of the largest growing industries of the past decade. Almost everyone uses some form of social media apps. However, not almost everyone, but literally everyone, needs to eat.

Naturally, a conglomeration of both social media apps and the restaurant industry is meant to be. Many restaurant chains have already taken advantage of this trend, constructing their own apps and social media accounts to reach out to customers. However, a new type of app is shaping the restaurant industry, one download at a time.

There is an emerging collection of popular apps that don’t just focus on one restaurant or chain, but on the industry as a whole. These allow you to compare and contrast, read reviews and sometimes even order in food from nearby eateries. Today, I want to take a look at some of the most popular of these apps and discuss what makes them stand out amongst the competition.

A list by Paste Magazine cites EAT24 as a unique restaurant app. Recently acquired byYelp, not only does EAT24 provide you with reviews and star-based ratings of places you may want to eat at, but also allows you to order food in from over 25 thousand restaurants. That’s right, the creators of the app also run a delivery service. Although delivery times and fees differ for each restaurant, the process works the same for any listed. Therefore, you can order whichever type of cuisine you are in the mood for without having to leave the comfort of your own home.

Paste Magazine also lists Zagat as a popular dining app. Zagat allows you to filter restaurant options by cuisine type, location and, most importantly, price. Therefore, you save time by eliminating restaurants out of your price range right off the bat. With a unique scoring system that takes food, decoration and service into account, you can quickly find the dining location that’s perfect for you.

The also listed Dining Grades works similarly to Zagat, but with one key difference. It mainly focuses on a factor that its competitor left out: cleanliness. Using a letter scoring system, Dining Grades shows you which restaurants are clean enough to meet your standards. Whether you want a spotless, fine-dining environment, or simply just want to avoid another case of food poisoning, Dining Grades has you covered.

Mashable makes note of discount apps such as Groupon and Livingsocial on its list. Both work very similarly, allowing you to purchase coupons, and sometimes even free meals, for your favorite dining locations. Although they don’t only focus on the restaurant industry, that facet of these apps is one of their most popular.

Mashable also takes healthiness into account when listing Unified Lifestyle. This app catalogs a massive amount of individual restaurants, as well as chains. After finding the perfect restaurant for you, and dining there, you can use the app to record your caloric intake from the meal. This will allow you to better balance your daily calories and not go overboard. The app will prove especially helpful if you are someone who eats out very often.

Clearly, there are many apps out there to improve your dining experience. From easy delivery to health management, today, there’s an app for almost anything restaurant related. For more app recommendations, read more.

Restaurants are Teaming Up With PR Firms for their Social Media Campaigns

Note: This article was initially published on the restaurant trade site Restaurant Social Media Index on 7/27/16.


A restaurdownload (1).jpegant teaming up with a PR firm typically has a negative connotation. Consumers are accustomed to associate that pairing with a health issue or lawsuit. Wipe that connection out of your brain, because there’s a new reason why restaurants and PR firms are coming together.

Restaurants are partnering with PR firms to strengthen their social media campaigns. Areport by Cron explains why this may be.

Cron explains that PR firms use social media for their clients in many ways. They often make accounts, keep track of analytics and narrow down which platforms to use for their clients. They also help train their clients on how to effectively use social media for themselves. Occasionally, PR firms are even responsible for creating social media content for their clients.

A recent example of a restaurant chain taking advantage of what PR firms have to offer when it comes to social media is Panda Express. The popular Chinese food chain Panda Express recently announced its partnership with PR firm Havas Formula for its social media campaign.

A report by QSR Magazine quoted Panda Express’ Vice President of Guest Marketing Dave Wallinga to better explain why.

“Havas Formula was selected due to its proven track record in developing integrated marketing campaigns and implementing best-in-class public relations and social media programs,” he said.

He explained that the pitches Havas Formula gave him perfectly matched with the goals of his chain, rendering them a perfect fit.

Although Panda Express is not the first, nor will it be the last, to partner with a PR firm for social media, it might be one of the biggest. As one of the largest fast casual chains in the nation, it becomes a trend setter when it makes any major decision, let alone partnering with a PR firm.

A list by The Muse explained what you should make sure you know before hiring a PR firm. Although this list isn’t targeted specifically towards restaurants and social media campaigns, it applies to them as equally as it does any other type of company and campaign.

The Muse urges you to pick a firm that will not only help you reach a large audience, but one that will also specifically match up with the ideals and values of your target demographic. Therefore, you will attract new customers, as well as keep returning ones, with your social media.

You must also make sure to know the exact members of the firm you are working with, or the core team behind your project. Therefore, you can have easier communication with the firm, which in turn will lead to stronger social media content. Read more

What CurrentC Closing will Mean for Apple Pay

Note: This article was initially published on the digital marketing site DigitalCoCo on 7/20/16.


download.jpegIn an era where technology has begun to dominate almost every aspect of society, it’s hard to say which facet has evolved the most. There is no doubt, however, that payment methods have been affected. A clear reflection of this idea comes in the form of the emergence of mobile payment systems.

While almost everyone is familiar with the online payment system giant PayPal, mobile platforms such as Apple Pay and CurrentC may seem more foreign to many.

Tech Target defines mobile payment, or m-payment, as, “a point-of-scale transaction made or received with a mobile device.”

They explain the allures of convenience and security as the driving factors behind this recent trend.

However, if you aren’t familiar with any of these m-pay platforms, have no fear, there’s one less you need to know about.

A report by CNet announced that CurrentC, Apple Pay’s most popular rival, closed its doors on June 28. This shutdown was thorough; all accounts were disabled, the app was removed from all app stores that offered it and all locations that allowed it no longer do so.

CNet noticed an interesting twist on CurrentC’s closure, however.

“The twist behind CurrentC is that it was backed by a consortium known as the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, which consisted of merchants such as Walmart, Best Buy, CVS and Rite Aid,” said the report. “But the group has faced tough competition from Apple, Samsung and other players.”

In other words, despite being backed by giants like Walmart and Best Buy, CurrentC was still overtaken by Apple Pay.

MCX was unclear as to whether the m-payment app would ever make a comeback, but a spokesperson for the company announced plans to analyze the data gained from the app’s initial run.

According to CNet, there are some logical culprits behind the shutdown that are evident even before MCX’s data analysis. The report credited hackers, the CEO of MCX stepping down, a lack of expansion and frequent layoffs as some of the logical answers to the question of why CurrentC failed.

However, CNet also mentions the app’s reliance on QR codes to make purchases, as opposed to the commonly used fingerprint method, as a culprit to CurrentC’s downfall.

While the future is unknown for CurrentC, it is clear that mobile payment is not a trend that will be dying anytime soon. Both Apple Pay and Android Pay continue to gain traction, and therefore, the industry with it.