Last Updated on March 15, 2023
A decade ago, if you went around telling people that one day, everything from their fridge to their TV to their coffee machine would connect to the Internet, they’d look at you like you had two heads. And yet that’s exactly the world we live in. We bring more aspects of our everyday lives online with each passing day, enabling extra functionality and a level of interaction none of us could have imagined.
But…what exactly does that mean for you as a restaurant owner? I mean, you could certainly hook up stuff in your kitchen to the web, maybe help your cooks and dishwashers work more efficiently. And you can’t go wrong with a digitized ordering system, right?
See, one of the most significant trends of the modern-day aside from connected devices is the fact that everything – and I do mean everything – is on social media. You have people who post their whole life on Instagram, millennials who are never without Snapchat, and kids who treat Twitter as a stream-of-consciousness journal rather than a public forum. And while there are certainly some embarrassing flubs associated with this sort of world, the potential to engage with your guests is huge.
And digitizing your signage is one of the best ways to do so.
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First and foremost, there’s the fact that doing so gives you more control over your restaurant’s branding than ever before. Want to make a slight tweak to your logo? You can do that. Want to make guests aware of a change in your menu options or a daily special? Again, that’s within your power to change within seconds in a professional manner.
If you want an example of this in practice, just look at McDonald’s. As one of the leading fast food chains in North America, the company’s been on a huge push lately to transform pretty much its entire dining experience. Go to one of their locations and look behind the counter – you’ll see a bunch of signs with branded video, each one fully customizable.
McDonald’s is only scratching the surface of what’s possible here, too. As already mentioned, people today have something of an obsession with posting pictures of their food on Instagram. Doing so has become kind of a big deal, both for restaurants and diners.
Full disclosure: I’ve done it myself on more than one occasion.
Instagram’s got the potential to put a restaurant on the map all on its own, owing to the fact that it allows users to tag their location when uploading a post. Why not give people a bit of extra incentive to share their positive experiences with their food, and feature Instagram posts on signs throughout your building? See, there’s something awesome about seeing one’s own content on a billboard – and you can bet that awesome feeling will lead to more people talking about your location, and more people getting interested in eating there. Adding a Tweetwall to your restaurant engages users and encourages posting, with the correct hashtags and usernames even. If people have to guess the hashtag or username for your brand, chances are they will do so incorrectly a majority of the time.
“Social walls are a gentle visual reminder to tweet, post, and comment,” reads a post on the Capterra blog. “They also nudge people who might not usually engage online to get involved. Gotta love that peer pressure.”
There are other ways to engage through your signage, too. When you’re running a contest, or event, let people install a mobile app to their phone that facilitates the event. Leaderboards and announcements can be displayed prominently throughout the restaurant to let people know what’s going on (and gently push anyone who isn’t yet participating into joining in).
Finally, you can also incorporate digital menu boards into some of your signs – and maybe even allow people to order through them, as well.
Easier than you thought, right? Of course, there’s a bit more to generating engagement than just digitizing your signs – you also need to understand how people use social media while they eat, and what you can do to tap into that.
But once you’ve figured all that out, you can create a dining experience that’s modern, memorable, and unique – and the value of that cannot be understated.
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