Among the hundreds of brands that young adults gravitate toward, the most successful ones are those that earn the loyalty and trust of their fans. Using those brands becomes habitual, so all of a sudden wearing your favorite pair of J Brand jeans or always having your iPod for the commute to work feels just as important as brushing your teeth in the morning.
Gen Y lifestyles have been impacted by more than just tech and apparel brands, though. Restaurants have begun to use social media to connect with diners, and many other food establishments are following suit.
Boloco, a New England-based burrito chain, has distinguished itself from the numerous other burrito places out there by sharing its green initiatives with customers and playing an active role throughout the Boston community.
The Boloco team has attended local TweetUp events and supports a number of the area’s colleges and universities through food donations and other efforts. They have continued the conversation by inviting customers to share their experiences on Twitter, and even offer perks for the Foursquare mayors of their restaurants.
Not far behind from Boloco’s social media success is Saus, a new Belgian street food restaurant concept, complete with waffles, frites, and dipping sauces. A sauce naming contest on the company’s Facebook page has added to the excitement, and although the restaurant’s grand opening date is still some time away, followers are constantly tweeting and adding new voices to the mix of anticipation.
The Saus blog has given anxious, future customers a peek into the daily lives of Saus’s founders, first time restaurant owners who have willingly shared the tribulations that go along with opening a restaurant in Boston. According to Renee Eliah, one of Saus’s team members, the opening date will hopefully be at the end of June, pending permit issues and completing work on the ventilation system.
The social media tactics Saus has implemented are unique from what other restaurants have done because they are using these new platforms to share their journey and discuss what it takes to open a restaurant in a not-so-great economy. Not many restaurants can claim to have won over an audience before they’ve tasted the food, but Saus has done just that.
Pinkberry, the frozen yogurt phenomenon, has also made its social media presence known by offering Foursquare users 10% off in select stores when they check-in. The more check-ins they accumulate, the more points they receive toward special events. The hub even promotes half-off frozen treats to customers who bring in their receipts from the day before. Pinkberry is arguably the name that started the frozen yogurt craze, so it’s no surprise that this lifestyle brand is doing so well on the social media front.
Another restaurant that’s been in the news recently for social media integration is AJ Bombers, a Milwaukee burger joint, whose owner, Joe Sorge, utilizes Foursquare to up his customer base. Sorge increased daily sales by 110% by using a Foursquare Swarm Badge and promoted a swarm event via Twitter and Facebook.
“Joe paid attention to his customers to learn more about them, discovered their growing interest in Foursquare, then did his research about how he could take advantage of the new trend,” wrote Pamela Seiple on HubSpot.com. “The result was a carefully and successfully implemented promotion that afforded him new customers and additional buzz.”
Our generation lives on expression and social media, so it’s refreshing to see restaurants catering to our favorite form of communication. As more of them continue to use social media as a primary method for customer interaction, Gen Y customers are likely to talk right back and help spread the news about a new eatery or promotion by word of mouth. In fact, it may be just a matter of time before restaurant brands have a little blue check mark and “Verified Account” on their Twitter profiles.