First Steps Into Social: The Restaraunter

July 8, 2010
Restaurant Chef Ingredients

Prepare the raw ingredients for your social media menu

In a new post series, First Steps Into Social will focus on specific industries and seek to provide some starting points for those new to (and perhaps overwhelmed by) the world of social media.

Last week we looked at some steps a veterinarian can take into social. This week our stomachs lead us and we can’t resist serving up some advice for restaurant owners everywhere.

For those involved in food service, why not look at these first steps into social media:

  • Work up the appetites of your audience by posting mouth-watering descriptions of your daily specials. Whole Foods Market do this regularly on Twitter for their cafe/buffet options.
  • Create a blog with varied content about both your own restaurant and others in your community. Write about your own dishes, their history, look into the origins of the type of food you serve. Write about the neighborhood or town in which you operate, how it defines your restaurant and the type of clientele you serve. Build a picture in the reader’s mind of who you are, the type of dining experience you’ll give them, and background as to where it came from.
  • Ask your clients to tell you about their favorite experience at your restaurant, what they ate, drank, and how the atmosphere added to their meal. Then, with their permission, write a blog post about it with pictures of the dishes and area in which they sat. Better yet, encourage  them to share the experience on Facebook or as a Google or restaurant site review. Take a look at the number of the Lombardi’s Pizza 4 and 5 star reviews on Google alone and decide how you can get people buzzing about your delicious menu.
  • Set up listening stations to monitor discussion of both your business and other dining experiences in your town/region. Respond to comments, good or bad, about your restaurant via the same media used to express them, thanking any praise and engaging any criticism to turn the situation around. Search more generally a couple of hours before the main meals you serve to find prospective customers looking to eat in your area. If you engage them and alert to your delicious menu, they may well feel special enough to come in and give you a try.
  • Extend the in-house comment/suggestions cards to ask for customer reviews on their favorite restaurant or business listing sites. Offer a return incentive of a discount or free item for those who can point to a review. Do the same for customers who share their experience on Facebook and return with friends.
  • Register on Foursquare and other location-based social networks such as Gowalla and Loopt. Participate in the game format of sites that use it by advertising specials or privileges for the top user, as Milwaukee’s AJ Bombers do for their ‘Foursquare Mayor. Use the sites yourself wherever possible to understand the nuances of each and how best to encourage user discussion of your restaurant.
  • Look into offering a group buying coupon through a site such as Living Social or Groupon, if they operate in your area. Such services usually offer $xx dollars worth of food/drink for a reduced rate, often as much as 50 or 60%, encouraging initial buyers to share with their friends for a night out. They also receive the offer free if enough of those they share with purchase too, giving an added incentive. Even for those that don’t buy, the e-mail and shared advertising raises awareness of your business to those in your area.

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Food and drink have a special place in the hearts of social media users, as the platforms are more more frequently used to share insights on delicious treats or less palatable experiences. This offers the restauranteur – and indeed most food service providers – a fantastic opportunity to whet the appetites of existing customers and seek out the hungry and thirsty individuals that are just waiting to visit your establishment.

Bon appetit!

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As a hungry social media user, what lures you into new places to eat and/or drink? What turns you off?

As the proprietor or employee  of a restaurant/food service provider, what experiences have you had in using social media to increase your custom?

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Photo credit: Devlyn

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Notes From Digital Music NY – 6/22/10

June 25, 2010

Digital Music NY

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Earlier this year we covered a new music industry gathering called Digital Music NY. Since then, the event – organized by the fine folks at Fortex Group and MusicDish – has gone from strength to strength, increasing its now monthly meeting attendance and creating a version in Los Angeles.

This past Tuesday night was the latest installment of the New York City meeting and we were on hand to bring you a summary of the insights provided by the talented professionals in attendance. To kick off, various businesses and individuals took the ‘One Minute Mic’ to give us their news and announcements:

  • Reggie of Music Intelligence Solutions introduced Uplaya, a service site that rates the hit potential of a song within 30 seconds. Aimed at assisting recording industry professionals find the best songs for them more easily and to help artists get noticed, they are looking for mutually beneficial partnerships for the service.
  • A service called songbright was announced, which is a subscription-based service paying a fixed cost for plays on their site.
  • Amanda from Legend Factory announced their next showcase in August and that they are seeking unsigned artists to work with, as well as other suitable partnerships.
  • Carla Lynne Hall, a hard working artist and music industry entrepreneur, asked the question of all attendees: “What do you want to know?” Following on from her recent ‘Engage Your Fans’ webinar on, Carla encouraged people to contact her for assistance on anything from songwriting to online marketing initiatives.
  • It was also announced that the next Digital Music NY would be on Tuesday July 27th.

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Following the announcements, a Q&A session with global soul musician Tomas Doncker and 88tc88 representative Robert Singerman was held, focusing primarily on topics flowing from the recent Music Matters conference and the artist’s upcoming ‘Small Worlds’ tour in China, including a stop at the Shanghai World Expo.

After a little background on how the tour came to be, the discussion moved to the potential of the Chinese music market and the challenges of getting Western music into it. These summary points cover the main thoughts:

  • PR China FlagThe Chinese market has 800m mobile users and 380m net users at the current time.
  • Chinese music video platform Mogo was discussed as a primary sponsor. They can bring videos from associated Western artists to their large domestic audience.
  • Tomas emphasized the critical role his manager Miguel played in making the connections to start moving in China, including the important media representation he created with MusicDish.
  • The importance of lyrics to the Chinese audiences was raised. Success in the market is often related to the translation into Mandarin, a service provided by 88tc88. They also then distribute to 10 major retailers.
  • Robert noted that “China is 50 years behind the international music industry” but that the market potential is enormous and the government committed to tackling piracy from the beginning and getting a wide variety of music into their country.
  • As a contrast to the previous point, it was also noted that there is a great deal of bureaucracy in getting music licensed and into the Chinese market, as well as the predominance of pop music making it harder for rock and indie bands to get the attention they might expect of such a large audience.
  • Robert talked about their partnership with SSCEG (Shanghai Synergy Culture Entertainment Group), an organization with 14 TV stations and 23 radio stations serving the Chinese market; a great conduit for artists working with 88tc88 to gain exposure.
  • A lack of technical infrastructure and expertise was acknowledged as one challenge facing the country. As a result – and the government’s commitment to music – opportunities for sound engineers and those with tech skills are growing.
  • A cautionary note was raised on what percentage of royalties, if any, actually reach the artist after the service providers take their cut. Corruption and bureaucracy was again acknowledged as a challenge for China to tackle.
  • Finally it was noted that brand building is a huge focus in China, so sponsorship opportunities with links to the country can work wonders for musicians. Once a foothold is gained, the speakers agreed that establishing a live reputation was the next key step.
  • After the speakers set the scene for us so well, Tomas left us with the words: “See you all in China!”

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As a starting point for your exploration of the Chinese market, both Music*Dish China and 88tc88 are great resources. Eric de Fontenay is a font of knowledge on the region and clearly has a great passion for its potential. The question they leave artists and music industry professionals with is: Do you have that same passion, interest, and commitment to tackle the market?

As mentioned, the next Digital Music NY is on Tues July 27th. Mark your calendars!


7 Ways To Prove You’re The Expert’s Expert

June 17, 2010

ExpertiseSo you know that your knowledge is second to none and that you’re the maven of [insert subject here]. But how do you communicate this to those new to your efforts, especially within the limited personal contact of the digital realm?

Although it’s true that working relationships built up in person have a natural trust associated with them, the social web offers more and more opportunities to develop such relationships on the basis of demonstrated knowledge. Additionally, your reach is much extended beyond your own region, making productive, beneficial  connections with the perfect associates more accessible than ever.

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All very well, but the original question was: how?

In this post we look at seven steps you can take to begin building  an online repository of your expertise, helping out others who can benefit from your knowledge, and connecting with those elusive contacts that may not have been available to you outside of social media.

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  • Write varied and unique content on your own website via a blog. Include practical advice for your readers and, once you have a good block of popular content, create a ‘Best Of’ section of your blog and link to it now and again from other platforms and blog posts. Check out our advice on creating alluring content to get started.
  • Search and answer relevant questions on LinkedIn, Answers.com, Yahoo! Answers, and any other site where people gather to search for the expert knowledge you have to impart. Niche sites for your specialist area may be more appropriate, if you find too many responses on the larger sites.
  • Speak or provide informed opinion at a relevant event. Twitter is full of individuals arranging ‘tweet-ups’, as well as dedicated sites like MeetUp offering specific categories, making it easy to find the right level and subject for your area of expertise. By finding these via social media, you can also connect with attendees before and after the event, whether you’ve met them in person or not.
  • Host a webinar via a site like Webex or GoToMeeting. Many offer a free trial so you can find your feet and select the site you prefer. This gives you a chance to offer some free advice to those with an interest in your field, gathering a community around your expert opinion and storing it online as a reference point for anyone that is unable to attend. A webinar can also be marketed more like an event, making it easier to spread on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Create a podcast or video guide. Recording is now simple enough that good quality output can be made from a PC or digital camera. As the spoken word and visual elements of these media offer a more human connection to your content, they bridge some of the distance we discussed early and can appear more authoritative. This simple guide from Best Internet Marketing can get you started in podcasting.
  • Request referrals and testimonials from those who have had the most positive experiences working with you. You can be recommended as an individual on LinkedIn, ask for a review on business listings like Google Maps or Yelp!, or simply post their enthusiastic comments on a specific section of your website for prospective customers to read.
  • Offer free consultations to show what you can do for a specific individual or business, without committing them to anything. The no cost aspect is a great way to attract new interest in your services, while the one-on-one nature helps to focus in on the exact needs of those you’re working with and communicate more clearly what you can help them achieve.

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How are you using the social web to demonstrate your expertise?

What difficulties have you found in standing out in a crowded environment such as LinkedIn Answers?

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Cartoon coutesy of Geek & Poke


Broadcast Yourself….Live On Facebook? More on UStream.TV

February 16, 2010

Recently we looked at the options available to musicians in broadcasting their live performances using online video services. One of these platforms was UStream.TV.

Wakey! Wakey! Plays

Wakey! Wakey!'s Mike Grubbs streamed live to an interactive Facebook audience

Yesterday night the possibilities for music makers using this service combined with the extraordinary social networking reach of Facebook, as Brooklyn artist Wakey! Wakey! utilized them both to play to a wide and engaged audience.

The event represented a strong argument for tying in the various arms of social and traditional media, as the set was timed specifically to begin as TV series One Tree Hill – in which band frontman Mike Grubbs appears and his music is featured – ended. The message was spread around both Facebook and Twitter, as well as the official artist and label sites, creating a strong call to action for anyone interested in either the show or the music to tune in.

Once logged in, Facebook users joined the party on a custom tab inserted directly into the artist’s fan page. UStream offers this service to artists upon application, with the whole thing offering a clean and effective way for fans to watch the set on the left, comment/discuss with other fans on the right, and, of course, purchase merchandise via a banner handily placed below all this activity. It also boosts the buzz on the artist’s page by having the audience become a fan and RSVP to the ‘event’, increasing the viral potential for the message to spread to other Facebook users ahead of time.

Such integrated promotion of an online media event goes to the core of what we at Above The Static believe to be the unlimited potential for musicians to spread their creativity to a global audience. Building a diverse and engaged fan base is right at the finger tips of the artist willing to explore these avenues, an exploration that we continue to make alongside those with whom we work on a daily basis.

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Have you used other services or social networks to broadcast live to your fans? How did you promote the occasion and what results did you see?

What are your thoughts on spreading your creative work via live streaming services?


A Global Audience: How Musicians Can Play For Fans Around the World

February 4, 2010

All musical artists, whether bedroom singer-songwriter or pop sensation, want to connect with fans around the world.

Can you reach a global audience?

Though the web initially made it much easier to get word of music to those thousands of miles away, actually playing it live to these lovers of your art has proven elusive. A cursory glance of any artist’s Myspace page or message board will testify to this, littered as they are with requests to play to a couple of folks in Helsinki and their lone (but obsessive) fan in New Zealand.

The beauty of ever-expanding bandwidths and reliable high speed connections, however, means that the days of saying “We’d love to but…..” to some of your most enthusiastic advocates can be a thing of the past.

Sites like YouTube and Vimeo are excellent platforms for building a video marketing/promotion campaign but for live web casts there are other, lesser known sites that savvy artists are now using to engage with their fans, transforming geography from a barrier to a unique aspect of fan interaction during these performances. Any artist checking out uStream.TV or JustIn.TV will find a simple but effective platform from which to build a live event that can be attended by anyone with a reasonably quick and reliable connection.

Last weekend I watched New York based singer-songwriter Lucas Kane Hall play from his apartment to fans both here in the USA and all the way back in his native Australia. Gathering around a common factor – the live music – fans were able to discuss their location, post comments on the performance to each other in real time, and vote on their favorite songs of the set (a beautiful ode to nostalgia for a more innocent time, 1985, won, incidentally). Despite the distance, such events offer fans a chance to connect and form experience-based communities in similar ways to a live show. In actual fact, it could be said that this increases due to the nature of web interaction and the tendency of people to be more open to communicating via this medium.

We will cover the use of specific sites in more detail in future posts, as well as the wider phenomenon of creating video content to promote music online. For the moment, we would love to hear your opinion on these sites and the opportunities live video broadcasting presents.

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Have you staged an event on one of these sites? What was your experience like and how did your fans react?

Do you see opportunities to take the concept further to promote your music to a global audience? What are your ideas?