Pub Update

Why are restaurants not claiming their Facebook pages?

I am trying to understand why restaurants are not claiming their “Facebook community pages” for their own. For example, the Buffalo Wild Wings chain has nearly 2,000 unclaimed pages with 800,000 fans (“likes”) and over 3 million check-ins!

They are not the exception, as a small sampling of restaurant chains show, many chains have way more unclaimed community pages than official business pages.

In this sample between 61% to 94% of the facebook pages are unclaimed.

I will try to explain what these “community pages” are, describe how to claim them, speculate on why these restaurants aren’t claiming these pages, and show why claiming them should be a no brainer.

Community Pages

Back in 2010 (ages ago in internet time…), Facebook introduced “community pages

Community Pages are a new type of Facebook Page dedicated to a topic or experience that is owned collectively by the community connected to it. Just like official Pages for businesses, organizations and public figures, Community Pages let you connect with others who share similar interests and experiences.

Mari Smith wrote a very good blog about Facebook Community Pages: What Your Business Needs to know. She explains how Facebook automatically created 6.5 million pages from users’ “Likes and Interests” and “Work and Education” data. The result was that many businesses, especially restaurants, had “community pages” created for them - without their knowledge!

In addition, Facebook lets users create community pages on their own and many more restaurant pages got created by users while “checking in” on their mobile phones. If a user tries to check in to a restaurant using the Facebook app and the place does not show up in the nearby list, the user can create the place on the spot.

A chain like Buffalo Wild Wings with 821 locations has 179 official fan pages and 1,998 “community pages”. There are often multiple pages for a location due to the importing and user creation. Many of these community pages have a large number of fans and checkins - much larger than the official page! For example, just one community page for the Visalia, California location has 1,169 likes (fans) and 53,465 check-ins.

This is a real waste of an opportunity for the restaurants. People are checking in, liking, and even posting photos to these pages. The opportunity to engage and promote their brand is being lost. Or worse, malicious people can post negative or damaging material.

Claiming Pages

Facebook does allow official business owners to ‘claim’ these pages. Once you prove you are the owner/manager, you become an “Admin” for the page and can fully control the content and permissions for that page. You can basically turn a “community page” into a “business page”.

If you already have a business page for your location, you can “merge” the newly claimed page into the official page. This moves all the likes and checkins over to the official page. Doing this can often dramatically increase your fan count.

Why Not?

So this is where the speculation starts. Why are restaurants not claiming these pages? I am guessing that there are two reasons.

First, many restaurants just don’t know these pages are on Facebook. Even if you want to find these pages, Facebook search isn’t great. I have found that if you use the search field in the Facebook header bar, it will often not find a place. I had to write some software that uses the Facebook Graph API along with geo-coordinate locations (latitude and longitude) for a place in order to find all these community pages for my research. [By the way, I would be happy to search for your place for you, gratis - just shoot me an email with the restaurant name and address to brad@pubupdate.com]

The second reason may be that the larger chains are relying on their main brand page. For example, Buffalo Wild Wings has a very good and active Facebook fan page for their brand. The idea of managing 821 pages for all their locations probably seems rather daunting.

I think this is a mistake.

Why They Should?

The whole point of social media is to leverage the powerful relationships people have with their friends and their communities. This includes the local businesses they frequent, often with those friends.

I believe that if you want to build strong brand loyalty you have to combine the strong identity branding of the chain with the more personal relationship with the local, favorite restaurant.

The prevalence of mobile and the increasing number of people who “check-in” to locations and let all of their friends know, makes location specific pages even more important. This, by the way, is the most effective form of increasing your likes: many friends of the person checking in will like the place!

Finally, there is technology that makes managing all these pages very doable. For example, with PubUpdate, you can create the common brand messages once, and it will automatically send that message to all of the location pages. It also allows you to have location specific messaging that is also automated. You get the best of both worlds: strong identity branding and more personal, location specific relationship building.

If you have thoughts on why restaurants are not claiming their Facebook pages, I would love to hear them.

PubUpdate 2.0

Announcing the New Release

Two big new features are included in Version 2.0 based on customer requests:

  1. Tweet without posting to Facebook and vice versa
  2. Easier use on mobile devices (phones and tablets)

You can now upload photo’s directly from your phone (only works for iOS 6 and above for iPhones as previous versions did not support file upload).

While we were at it, we developed a new cleaner look and feel. I hope you like the new look PubUpdate. See the details below.

Twitter and/or Facebook

Users who attach a twitter account to their facebook account in PubUpdate, have there posts, events and reminders automatically sent to both.

Some people would like to send more tweets, while not sending them all to Facebook. Also, there may be occassions where you want to send to Facebook without tweeting it as well.

The new ‘Post’ form lets you select where you want to send the message.

It defaults to both if a twitter account has been added. You can leave it as is, or ‘de-select’ either so that it only goes to the selected account.

New Look for Desktops and Mobile Devices

Version 1.0 was difficult to use on a mobile devices as the scaling became so small it was difficult to see and ‘touch’ the proper elements. Version 2.0 has a ‘responsive’ design, which means it adapts the look to the device it is being displayed on.

The new look desktop version looks like this:

The calendar on an iPhone looks like this:

The calendar and forms are all usable on a phone and with iPhones updated to iOS 6 and above, you can upload photos to posts and events directly from your phone.

Best Practices - Getting Started with Social Media

updated: Mar 7, 2013

Establish your brand and build customer loyalty

The whole objective is to increase customer loyalty and establish your ‘brand’: What are you all about? Who are your ideal customers and what do you offer that gets them excited?

Social Media provides for an unprecedented level of communication with your customers and, when done right, has been shown to dramatically increase customer loyalty (by 45% according to a published university study).

But what about public complaints? This should be considered an opportunity and not a risk. Bad experiences are going to happen. Everyone makes mistakes. And people are going to talk, post and tweet about it. Now you have an opportunity to respond. Would you rather not know that a customer has been talking and writing about a negative experience, or would you rather have the opportunity to address it right away? You can often turn a problem into an opportunity to show that you care - you can respond publicly and not have a disgruntled customer ‘spread the word’ without you even knowing.

Provide interesting, timely and useful information

What type of information do you want to share? You want to engage your customers so that they have a strong loyalty to you and your business and are more likely to participate in events and special promotions. Below are examples of the type of information you should share:

  1. Events: Remind customers of important events with specific start and end times. Facebook allows you to create events and invite your fans. But to get the most out of these events, you should have reminders posted weeks before, the day before and the day of the event. You do not want to over-do this; this should not be used for weekly specials or frequent events. The idea is to draw attention to an important event that you are inviting customers to attend. They can be associated with:

    • Education: product demo, cooking class, wine pairing, scotch tasting…
    • Holidays: Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, New Years…
    • Sports: Super Bowl, World Series, playoffs…
    • Entertainment: live entertainment, book reading, comedy…
  2. Promotions: Special offers are always appreciated and should be communicated through ‘posts’ and ‘tweets’. You can also encourage customers to become fans by providing “insider information“ - give promotions that only your fans are aware of, and require a special code word or phrase to get the deal. Example:

    “We want to show our appreciation to our great fans. Come in today and order Nachos and say the secret fan appreciation word ‘Nacholicious’ and get them for half price”

  3. Posts related to things happening in your community that you can tie into your brand. Examples:

    “Come by for a pint before the big game”
    “Drop in after you vote and watch the results with us”
    “We have some special Halloween treats for our first 100 customers”
    “In honour of all our new graduates, we have a special on…”

  4. Customer activities you can tie to your brand: customer sport teams, charity drives, etc. Post winners or team standings. Update customers on the progress of a charity drive.

  5. Ask questions to encourage dialogue. This dialogue is usually in the form of comments on your posts or responses to your tweets. Any dialogue you can generate is very valuable as all of their friends or followers see the dialog and become aware of your brand and page. You can reach well beyond your current fans and it is really a form of referral or endorsement. Make sure the question is easy to answer! Examples:

    “Which of our products do you like better?”
    “Who is going to win the World Series?”
    “Is Cod fish better than Halibut for fish and chips?”
    “What’s better, English wine or French beer?”

  6. Provide interesting facts: origins of a product, regional variations, history of a beer brand, ingredients to a recipe, or any other fact or trivia that may be relevant to your brand.

  7. Pictures: add a picture wherever possible as it always gets more attention. Data clearly shows that people notice and recall posts with pictures significantly more than posts without pictures.

  8. Celebrate milestones in your business: number of customers, years of operation, facebook fans!

How often and when?

Research has shown that it is best that you ‘post’ and ‘tweet’ at least once a day. The trend is towards more frequent tweets as these messages are so short. Twice daily Facebook posts seems to be optimal. If you leave days between updates, you will lose the brand awareness and the visibility you are trying to establish. However, you do not want to over do it and annoy your customers as they may ‘un-like’ or ‘un-follow’ you, or ‘hide’ your updates in their news feed.

The timing of the updates is very important as this will dramatically increase the likelihood of being seen. Research has shown that the best times of the day to post to Facebook are:

  • 11 am - presumably people checking Facebook before lunch
  • 4 pm - at the end of a work day…
  • 8 pm - after dinner

There are times when an earlier or later reminder might be appropriate. The above times are only guidelines. The point is, think a little bit about when your customers are likely to see the update and give them time to respond accordingly.

That’s it

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter provide you with new opportunities to communicate with your customers. If you do it right, it can be way more effective and less expensive than the ‘old media’ (newspaper, radio and TV). Research clearly shows that a referral from someone you know is 5 to 7 times more effective than advertising!