Monthly Archives: October 2011

Yes I’m a blogger, but no thank you…

I recently received an email from an agency that I will not name asking me if I could give them the visibility over my blog stats to assess whether or not engaging a relation with me and my blog would be interestinf for their clients!

Actually this subject about relationships between brands and bloggers has been making some buzz lately. These relationships can be both exciting and ambiguous and sometimes difficult. But the main issue here is that brands (and therefore their agencies) are not getting the fact that a blogger is a person who writes about a specific subject by passion and deep interest. Therefore, they should respect their privacy and their opinions by acknowledging the fact that bloggers can do whatever they want whenever they want. Also, their level of influence (and of course their visibility) is not always linked to their blog stats and doesn’t depend on the number of actual readers they have on regular posts.

I’ve been reading so much nonsense about bloggers waiting for brands to offer them gifts and money in order to write about their brands on their blogs, but no, it doesn’t always work like this. So I think this deserves some clarification.

How brands must manage relationships with bloggers?
As a blogger, I am often approached by companies, agencies or brands that want me to talk about their product or service.
In most cases, this first approach is materialized in the form of an email, usually non-personalized, which contains a press release or an invitation. Some of them, very clumsy, might also send an email by copying several bloggers, or they might also put the wrong name or wrong address of the blog. No Comment!

So… Here are some recommendations if you guys (companies, brands and agencies) hope to have a chance with bloggers.

Practice the direct approach: Avoid mail for initial contact. Instead, send a short tweet with a link… The blogger will then remember who you are more easily

– Then follow up on the mail, once the initial contact is established, send the blogger an email with the most personal information. Do not copy and paste the press release (again!!) but explain succinctly and clearly your service (or the things you want to talk about) in your own words.

Stay within the themes and topics; target bloggers that match your theme: If you want to announce something related to what’s new in your restaurant, do not waste your time trying to convince a tech blogger to write about your news, because even if he is a client, he won’t talk about it on his blog.

Do not force hand: bloggers feeling compelled to write an article will never do it or worse, they might be “evil” and tell their bloggers friends about their experience with you, and then BAM : bad buzz. So try to establish a real relationship with them, without expecting something in return. Ask them for their opinions, offer them your test, invite them to meet you. Be cool, frank, honest and transparent. Do not over-play, do not try too seduce or mislead about anything you are talking about.

Let go: if you see that the feeling is not there, it’s not worth insisting. Check back regularly to them when you have an update or a news you want to share with them but do nothing more.

– Actually, the real thing, and what brands should start doing ABOVE ALL is to propose an experience, a real project in which the bloggers will be proud to participate. This way you can be practically be sure that they will be talking about their experience with your brand, sharing with their readers something they actually liked doing. This way you are sure you would have created the best brand’s ambassadors.

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Why and how Restaurants in Lebanon should start moving to Social Media

Social media, mobile browsing and the utilisation of mobile applications on modern smartphones have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent times
According to tis infographic by Restaurant App Engines, there were 72% more smartphones sold in 2010 compared to 2009, and 87% of these smartphone owners use their phone to access the web. With such a phenomenal amount of usage, businesses can no longer afford to ignore these additional promotional avenues, and this infographic proves that restaurants are no exception.

While social networks are proving suitable tools to test new promotions or original ideas, this is not their primary mission. In fact, social networks offer the opportunity to bring something useful to your customers. Most of your communication actions should be planned around this idea.

OK now everything you’ve heard about social networking has come to convince you and you’re ready start this amazing “adventure”? Good idea. But you need to know how to do it and most importantly, what to say. Dear restaurants’ communication and marketing managers, here are some tips and examples to guide your communications on these networks and expand your virtual community.

1- Talk about the new features: new dishes, new recipes, new prices, new ingredients, new employees, new design…

2- Create exclusive content and be visual! Share your photos of mouthwatering dishes, videos of what happens in the kitchen, pictures of special events. In fact, images other than those on your website.

3- Encourage your customers to comment on the menu’s new items and give their opinion and recommendation

4- Tweet the sources that mention your restaurant

5- Talk about the celebrities who came to your restaurant, what they said, iwhat they ate and what they did

6- Tell funny stories that happened in your restaurant

7- Talk to your followers, ask the what they want to improve in your restaurant

8- Maintain a dialogue with your customers and potential customers and answer the questions they ask

9- Talk about future projects and plans for your restaurant

10- Push some special operations: Present the “Customer of the month” or ask your fans on Facebook to propose new recipes or dishes that can be considered as “Recipe of the month”

11- Turn your employees into trendy brand ambassadors

12- Increase your traffic by creating unique contests, distributing free stuff and promotions and by retweeting any positive feedback

13- Communication regularly and during peak hours (come on you know what are the peak hours for every social network… :p)

14- Messages such as “buy this or that” are not effective. Social media tend to focus on interactivity and there must be room for criticism. Express yourself on topics of interest to your community

15- Learn from the experts. Follow restaurants and private experts in your field to see how they build a community and agree that you have much to learn

Now restaurants like Crepaway and Roadster do it pretty well on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, but maybe it’s time for them to take a step forward and start challenging the use of social media for their businesses?
The one rapidly growing technology everyone in the industry has an eye on is the mobile phone, as it isincreasingly becoming the portal through which consumers interact with the digital world. Gaining access to consumers as they go about their daily lives and being able to reach consumers at that crucial moment when craving strikes is the key to success. Who will be the first one replacing their call center for delivery by developing a mobile app ?