Make it work for your company
In the catering world, newspaper and yellow-pages ads are practically gone, replaced by social media. In a nutshell, social media means that the people aiming the messages and those receiving them are working together to create communication.
Think about a wedding website, as opposed to a traditional yellow-pages ad: In the yellow pages, you created an ad that presented the information you wanted potential buyers to see, in the form that you preferred. On a wedding website, you put forward information you want to get noticed, but potential and former buyers may add their own questions and perspectives – and not always what you want customers to see.
You've probably heard of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogging and e-mail blasts, but you may wonder how the use of these programs can help effectively market your company. It's not as difficult as you might think.
Facebook is a global social networking website where users can add friends, videos, photos, links and broadcast messages.
Best use for caterers: Set up a business page for your company. Add photos, videos, links and menus. This is very effective for broadcasting special promotions.
Blogs are regular online entries consisting of commentary, event descriptions or other material, such as graphics or video. They exist as part of a website, or on their own.
Best use for caterers: Think of a blog as you would a journal. Talk about events, a new color palette, recipe of the week, photos and videos.
E-mail blasts are a form of direct marketing done by sending e-mails to a predetermined list of recipients. They may be used to try to acquire new customers, or to persuade current customers to purchase something immediately.
Best use for caterers: Constant Contact or iContact are fee-based companies that will store your e-mail data base. Sort addresses by groups for special promotions. Pages can be designed within the program for a professional marketing piece.
Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters that are displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers, who are known as followers. Tweets also can be posted directly on your Facebook page.
Best use for caterers: Keep this simple and use it to let your followers know what you're doing at a specific time.
YouTube is a video-sharing website where you can post company videos of your events.
Best use for caterers: Upload your videos and link to your website, Facebook page, blog, Twitter and e-mail accounts.
One warning: Overexposure can be bad PR. Be sensible about how – and how often – you use social media. Sadly, not everything you do is media-worthy. Pay attention to the responses you get; they'll let you know which social media tools work best for you.