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3 Takeaways From MUFSO’s “Emerging Brands Talk Social”

The stars at night, are big and bright.

*clap clap clap clap*

Deep in the heart of responsible social media marketing advice for new and exciting restaurant concepts.

That may not have quite the ring to it that we thought, but it’s what we’ve been singing all month long.

MGH traveled to Dallas from Oct. 1-3 as a sponsor for Nation’s Restaurant News’ MUFSO Conference. While we enjoyed showing off our creative thinking in the exhibit hall, featuring our “Whack Your Agency” theme, we were especially excited to have COO and public relations director Chris McMurry speak on the panel, “Emerging Brands Talk Social.”

Featuring representatives from Beefsteak, Holler & Dash, Pokeworks, Punch Bowl Social and Breakfast Republic, there were a few valuable lessons that these brands were able to take away from the conversation.

Here are MGH’s three takeaways from the panel:

1. Crisis communications has a place in social media strategy

Possibly the most important point Chris made during the panel discussion focused on the types of plans restaurant owners and operators need to have in place for when something goes wrong in one of their locations.

Some of the brands were already off to a great start when it came to their monitoring capabilities. In a separate interview with NRN, Holler & Dash COO Mike Chissler talked about the importance of keeping a close eye on all channels and turning “negative feedback into positive experiences.”

But, what happens when something catches fire on social media? What happens when it’s not during business hours? And, worse yet, what happens if it reaches local or national news before you have had a chance to take stock of what went wrong in the first place? In 2018 and beyond, incidents in restaurants from Texas to Minnesota may be isolated in nature, but before long, they will become representative of your entire brand in the eyes of consumers. The social media pitchforks often come out in force, which means these brands must be ready.

As a way to combat this, or at least to get in front of things, Chris spoke about the importance of intertwining your public relations efforts with social media 24-hour crisis management. Come to an agreed-upon set of messages that can be repurposed, re-tooled and re-distributed in responses on social media. Should your brand’s Facebook page be bombarded with comments surrounding an incident that, right or wrong, has legs in the news cycle, your marketing and communications departments should be united in their efforts to control the story.

2. Know your audience before investing in certain social channels

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Surprisingly though, there are brands that wish to have large followings on social channels that just don’t make sense for their core audiences. If caught in time, this problem is easily remedied. Unfortunately, it can be a lot harder to undo damage caused by investing in the wrong areas.

Chris told those in attendance that if their core audience is made up of teens, Instagram is a great place to put time and effort, while Facebook (excluding things like the Audience Network) and Twitter may not be as smart of a play.

Beefsteak COO Eric Martino made a point to show that his concept - often found around college campuses and in areas where there are concentrations of Generation Z and Millennials - is following this point. In that same interview with NRN, he spoke to the importance of employing Instagram to tell brand stories, not just stories about the food.

3. Influencer marketing doesn’t have to include A-list, or even D-list, celebrities

Chris speculated that large-scale influencer marketing is going too far into paid territory, with questionable returns at best. There are even some experts who speculate that we’ve seen the last of high-level influencers as we currently know them.

But there’s a better way to view this type of ad delivery, and Chris emphasized it during the panel. It’s best to look at this marketing strategy as a way to get people who authentically like your company to be motivated and incentivized to talk about you to people who genuinely like and respect what they have to say.

Depending on the store location, your influencer campaign could feature prominent Greek life leaders on college campuses, or even moms with big Instagram followings who already carry a certain amount of brand affinity. It’s called “micro-influencing,” and many marketers are already using it with great results.

Simply put: If consumers believe the message delivered is genuine, and it comes from someone they trust, it’s a lot easier to grab their attention.

We had a blast during our time in Texas, and we hope these already-successful restaurant concepts gained plenty of valuable social media insight as their brands continue to blossom. To get a complete MUFSO breakdown (including highlights from keynote speakers like celebrity chef and philanthropist José Andrés) from Nation’s Restaurant News, visit:

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