We know that running a restaurant is not easy. Profit margins are low, business is seasonal, and having one person (or two) call out can make things incredibly difficult. You’re always spending time with vendors, dealing with online reviews, and on top of that, you need to deal with reservations. Sure, technologies like those offered by OpenTable make things easier, but these services can be costly. Thankfully, OpenTable now has competition. Today, we will discuss 8 Open Table Alternatives to help you save on reservation software costs.
How Much Does OpenTable’s Reservation System Cost?
Here’s a breakdown of OpenTable’s costs. There is a monthly fee of $249 PLUS:
- Booking on OpenTable: $1 per cover extra
- Booking on Restaurant’s Website: $0.25
- Booking on Facebook Via OpenTable: $0.25
While these prices are significantly better than the original cost of the service (it used to cost $1,295 just to install), those quarters here and there add up. Today, we’ll introduce you to Open Table Alternatives that will help you save on reservations so you can increase your bottom line.
Affordable Restaurant Reservation Systems & Open Table Alternatives
We hear many restaurant owners complain that OpenTable is too expensive. Many are moving…and the good news is that there are alternatives. The convenience of OpenTable and its popularity can be great for restaurants that charge a higher cost per seat, but for more affordable places, the cost may not prove to be worth it.
We’re not poo-poing OpenTable. There are advantages to OpenTable. Their website notes that there are two reservations being made per minute. You can also reach out to your customers before AND after they come to the restaurant. This is a great advantage if you want to re-market them.
OpenTable and services like it help restaurants get reservations. From a diner’s point of view, it is much easier to just hop on your laptop or smartphone to make a reservation, than getting on the phone or sending an email and having to wait for confirmation.
If you want the benefits of an online reservation system, but aren’t fully in love with OpenTable, we’ve listed a few OpenTable alternatives for restaurants.
8 OpenTable Alternatives Worth Considering
Resy boasts a monthly cost of $189 per month with no extra charges and 24/7/365 support. As of January, Resy had seated 93 million people and serviced 2,400 venues in 160 cities. One feature we loved about Resy is that they have partnered with social media sites including Instagram, Airbnb, Google, Facebook, and other international partners to integrate Resy restaurant booking directly into their platforms. That means that you have a better chance to be discovered by people on those platforms.
URESERV is a ridiculously affordable online restaurant reservation and table management system. It was developed by a restaurant owner for restaurant owners to provide an affordable and robust solution to fulfill their online reservation and guest management needs. URESERV allows diners to make reservations through the restaurant’s website or social media pages. There is a flat monthly fee of $60 and a $0.10 reservation fee.
Eveve charges a licence fee for TELOS and does not charge a fee per online diner, meaning that despite its superior technology and stability, its offering can be very cost competitive, particularly for busier restaurants. Last we heard the fee for licensing was $200 flat.
You can list your restaurant on Bookatable.com to gain wider exposure for your brand and generate new business. Display your restaurant on local, national and international partner websites such as tastecard.co.uk. Livebookings is an award-winning company built for restaurateurs by restaurateurs. Headquartered in London, with offices in Hamburg, Stockholm, Madrid, Washington DC, and New York and customers in 23 countries. Livebookings enables real-time, online reservations on restaurant websites and helps restaurants access customers that would otherwise be difficult to reach through a global network of partners including Bookatable.com, lastminute.com, American Express, and Time Out.
Reservation Genie is both a reservation system and table management service for restaurants. Packages including online reservations start at $49 per month if you opt to include the Table Management, the cost moves to just $79 per month. All reservations from locals are included in the monthly fee eliminating keeping the prices lower. They also offer a mix of table management and marketing with tools to bring in new business. This includes a loyalty program that encourages customers to return to your restaurant and tools to network with local concierges.
The NoWait Guest App seamlessly syncs with the NoWait Host app, connecting guests to your host stand in real-time. The NoWait Guest App uses revolutionary wait quoting technology to extend hospitality into the mobile world and show real-time activity at your restaurant to would-be guests. They partnered up with Yelp in 2016 and were acquired by them, so this is where Yelp’s reservation system comes in.
Favouritetable.com is a dedicated restaurant resource listing to help people decide what to eat, where to eat and how to get there. FavouriteTable typically charges between £69 & £199 per month for unlimited online bookings (restaurant website & FavouriteTable). There are no hidden fees whatsoever – and they provide complementary social media advertising and a stable of online magazines. FavouriteTable started 4 years ago and offers a 5 year no price increase guarantee.
No complicated contracts, no hidden fees, no lock-ins. Freebookings is a “freemium” service. The basic reservation service is always free (and robust enough to be used in your everyday business to take online reservations from customers visiting your website), and on top of that, they offer paid for upgrades. Users can upgrade at any time to take advantage of premium paid for services such as mobile-optimized websites, advanced table management, email marketing, extensive reporting and access to a partner marketing network to bring your restaurant more reservations.
Yelp announced it’s own competitor to Open Table. Free for restaurants as long as they have claimed their Yelp page. Yelp Reservations lets customers book a reservation from the Yelp business listing on their mobile or desktop computers. Users will also get a text message reminder and an option to cancel or change their reservation via text.
Yelp has already offered reservations through Yelp SeatMe, a startup acquired by the company last year. But, Yelp Reservations lets smaller and lesser-known restaurants — that don’t need the heft of Yelp SeatMe — to also sign up for the service.
Social Media Management For Restaurants
Great tools are incredibly important to restaurants. Now that you have a great set of restaurant reservation dashboards to choose from, it’s time to consider the perfect social media tool for restaurants.
Socialdraft is an all-in-one social media management tool to help you and your team to manage your social media sites. Here are a few reasons you will love Socialdraft as a social media tool.
Set up your team
On Socialdraft you can add people to help you create social media content for your restaurant AND you can set permissions up for them. For example, you can add your bartender and give him or her access to your Instagram account. You can decide to allow their posts to go out without your approval, or you can set them up as managed users so that they can create content, but it won’t publish without your ok. How cool is that? Imagine that it is not just you creating content for your restaurant. Your chef could share his/her special of the day…your bartender can share his/her specials for the night, and your manager can share when a celeb happens to walk in the door.
This feature is great if you run specials on a weekly or daily basis. Say you run a Saturday all-you-can-drink brunch. Instead of creating a post for it every Saturday, simply create it once – set it – and forget it. This feature is great for those amazing reviews you’re getting too!
Drag & Drop Calendar
If you need to quickly re-schedule something, simply click, drag & drop it to another day in the calendar.
If your customers are always posting pictures of your food on Instagram, it’s a perfect opportunity to give them some love. Simply search your hashtag on our dashboard and schedule shares of their content not only to Instagram, but to all your connected social networks.
These are just a few of the features offered on Socialdraft. If you have a question, open up a chat and ask us or, take our social media tool for a risk-free trial and once you sign up, ask us for a video walk through of the dashboard so that you and your team can learn how to use Socialdraft to the max!
You’ve heard about Pinterest. Heck, it’s one of the most powerful social networks and compared to the rest, it’s been pretty much scandal-free since it’s founding in 2010. You know it’s good for building links and increasing web traffic, but you’ve been overwhelmed lately and really don’t want to start working on another social network. However, if you run a business, want to grow your brand, or need to get more traffic on your website, you’d be silly to ignore this social media powerhouse. Before we get you started with your Beginner’s Guide to Pinterest, let’s discuss a few stats you absolutely need to know:
- Pinterest has over 250 million monthly active users (compared with 150 million users in 2013)
- 125 million are in the USA
- 81% of its users are Female
- Men are signing up more than ever. 40% of new users are male.
- Millennials are active on Pinterest the same as they do Instagram.
- The average age of a Pinterest user is 40
- Most active pinners are under 40 years old.
- 50% of Pinterest users earn $50K or more
- 10% Pinterest households earn more than $125K.
- 30% of all US social media users are Pinterest users.
- Pinterest Drives Tons of Traffic
Those are some pretty strong numbers. Just imagine how much power those pins can have on your business and your profit margin. So stop lollygagging and start scheduling your pins. We’ve got everything you need to get started below (and when you get to the end you’ll learn how to schedule posts to Pinterest too).
A Beginner’s Guide to Pinterest
What Is Pinterest?
“A place to organize and share things you love.” – Pinterest
To that end, it’s helpful to think of Pinterest as a social media platform that works as an online bulletin board. It’s where users can go to “pin” down things they like and enjoy. Pinterest boards can be focused on any subject including:
- Favorite Restaurants – Great for restaurant supply stores, wine importers to showcase their clients.
- Wedding Ideas – Great for florists, dress shops, photographers, and wedding venues.
- Dream vacations – Travel agencies, hotel chains
- Art – Interior decorators, artists, galleries
- Decorating Ideas – home supply stores, decorators, department stores
The possibilities for collections are endless and determined by pinners. Since Pinterest boards are focused on public consumption, others can re-pin things from another user’s bulletin board. When this happens, your pins grow within the Pinterest network and your pins (reach more and more people each day).
Once you get started, you’ll understand how addictive it can be. Pinterest allows users to easily organize their pins so they can continuously build their interests and then arrange them in a convenient manner.
How Does Pinterest Work
You can add pins either by uploading them directly from your computer, by sharing a link to a website with images, or by using a social media scheduling tool like Socialdraft. Here’s how:
- Click the “+” to the left of your avatar
- Select whether you want to “upload a pin” or “Add from a website”
If adding from your computer
- Click ‘Choose image’
- Select an image from your computer
- Click open
- Select the board that you want your pin to appear on
- Add a description
- Click pin.
- If you have connected your Facebook & Twitter accounts, you will have the choice to share the pin to those social networks.
If Adding from a Website
- Copy the URL for the site and paste it into the area provided by Pinterest.
- Click next.
- All images that can be posted to Pinterest will come up on the top of the screen.
- Select the pin by clicking on it.
- Select the appropriate board
- Add a description
- Click “Pin”
- Log in
- Click create
- Enter your text
- Attach your image
- Select the Pinterest icon
- Select the Pinterest account
- Select the Boards you want this to publish to
- Then choose either 1 day and time, multiple days and times, or recurring dates.
- You can also schedule pins in the same manner from the home page dashboard, our photos area, via CSV or from anywhere on the web with our Bookmarklet.
Like all things social media, Pinterest can be used for marketing. When you consider how many people are currently on Pinterest, this probably seems like a no-brainer. But this is especially true if your business is aimed at women.
When you start your business’ page on Pinterest, it makes sense to fill it with images of the services you provide or products you sell. But don’t stop there. It’s social media, after all. Use Pinterest to interact and engage with your customers. Companies like L.L. Bean, Nordstrom and Applebees have all launched very successful Pinterest campaigns. There’s no reason your company can’t do the same.
- Re-pin images that are relevant to your business, its location, and its customers
- Comment on boards for possible customers or business partners.
- Pin images that come directly from your website so that when people click on the pin, they are directed to your website where they can learn more about you.
- Invite others to pin to your boards. When you do this, your board becomes part of their profile and your reach grows.
There are some easy ways to get the most out of your Pinterest use. These go beyond the Beginner’s Guide to Pinterest to put you on your way to becoming an expert.
Make it easy for people to repin your content: One of the best ways to do this is to make sure you have Pinterest sharing buttons installed on your website.
Make it easier for you to pin: install a “Pin It” button on your browser’s toolbar. This makes it extremely easy to pin images whenever you find them during your internet browsing. You can also use the Socialdraft’s extension to do this.
Craft DIY Posts & Boards: Pinterest users are very DIY (Do It Yourself), meaning they love posts that help explain how to make something. Recipes, for example, are easily the most popular post on the board. You’re 42% more likely to see them get clicked than any other kind of post.
Collaborate with others: We mentioned this earlier, but get creative here. For example…say you are a restaurant in New York that uses only local suppliers. Invite them to post to your Pinterest boards so they can tell your audience what they’re up to.
Don’t go crazy in the beginning. If you overpin items, you’ll end up with followers who are sick of always seeing their board cluttered with your interests. Pin at a pace (and use a Pinterest scheduling tool like Socialdraft to keep you organized and consistent).
Hopefully, by now you feel a bit more comfortable giving Pinterest a try. Now that you have your Beginner’s Guide to Pinterest, it’s time to get started. Your bottom line depends on it.
If you own a bar or restaurant, you’re probably looking for every (affordable) advantage to get your name out there. Chances are you are using Facebook and getting frustrated at the lack of reach, Twitter and frustrated at the lack of return on investment, and Instagram – loving it…but worried that it will turn into a pay-to-play network like Facebook did. You’re probably not thinking about using Pinterest to market your restaurant…you’re thinking that Pinterest is just for moms and brides. If this is your thinking, you’re wrong. Every bar & restaurant needs Pinterest. Why? We’re not getting into all the stats for Pinterest (we covered all that in our beginner’s guide to Pinterest post). Think of all the people who are planning trips to your city. They’re probably looking for places to eat and drink, right? They’re looking for things to do. Don’t let travel bloggers tell them where to go and what to do! Create amazing travel boards to promote not just your business but other businesses, landmarks, and services in your area, that way you can control where they go, what they do…and where they eat and drink…at your restaurant or bar. Let’s get down and dirty with some other ideas for you to convert Pinterest users into your customers.
Why Every Bar & Restaurant Needs Pinterest
While you’ve probably heard of Pinterest by now, it’s possible you’re not familiar with how it can help your business. Before you write it off as just another social media platform with no value to your bottom line. Pinterest drives a ton of web traffic, and these pins act as long-term links that will drive traffic to your website for years. It makes sense to use Pinterest as a link-building tool. Let us look more in depth as to why your restaurant needs Pinterest.
Why Should My Restaurant Care About Pinterest?
Pinterest has been consistently growing. Here is a quick look at Pinterest’s growth when it comes to active users over the years:
- 2010 – 10,000 users
- 2013 – 70 million users
- 2016 – 150 million users
- 2018 – 250 million users
Pinterest is Actually Influential
People love to plan trips on Pinterest, particularly because they can invite friends and family members who are traveling with them to collaborate on their travel planning boards. In fact, 3/4 of Pinterest users look for brand content when planning for their travels and almost 50% of US travelers who are higher spenders ($1,000 or more on travel) use Pinterest. Just because you are not a travel agency or an airline carrier, does not mean you can’t influence their decisions. You absolutely can create content that appeals to that audience in order to have them come to you. As mentioned in the introduction to this article, you as a bar or restaurant can create boards targeted to both tourists and locals. You can create boards that act as a guide to those who are interested in your geographic location in order to pull them into your physical location. Here are a few ideas:
- Best Restaurant Board – Pin restaurants that don’t directly compete with you (example – if you’re a Latin American restaurant you can include yourself in the pins as well as a sushi place, an Italian place, and a few other cuisine types that don’t directly compete with you).
- Spots to Check Out – make this board all about interesting landmarks and places in your area. The idea is to get people closer to you.
- Local Discount Board – Chat with other businesses in the area. Work out a deal so that if one of your Pinterest followers brings you a receipt from their place (for that same day), they get a small discount or token from you (and vice versa). You can also post your happy hour specials, special deals, and more here.
- Exclusive Discount Board – Create a secret board that is only available to those who follow you on Pinterest…offer them special deals on this board.
The whole idea here is to get creative, have fun, and get butts in those empty seats at your bar & restaurant.
What Other Businesses Use Pinterest?
Plenty of big-name companies like Red Lobster, Wendy’s, and The Olive Garden. These major companies have over 20 million followers between them. Most importantly, they’re not just pinning the items they sell, they’re finding fun ways to interact with fans and add a bit of personality to their marketing. Pinterest has become one of the best ways to engage customers. Don’t you worry, Pinterest is not just for the big boys. As a small business, you can dominate the local market and gain the loyal following of customers your direct competitors are not yet reaching out to.
Pinterest Tips for Marketing Your Bar or Restaurant
First, don’t get too excited to reinvent the wheel. There is plenty that you can do with Pinterest to broaden your customer base that won’t have anything to do with fancy marketing techniques. To begin with, you will need content. While this is a great time to start showing off what your company does best, don’t feel pressured to start producing new material. It’s fine to re-purpose photos, videos, and articles you’ve featured elsewhere.
Pin Useful Information
Not all content needs to be about your establishment either. You read that right. While followers will certainly enjoy news about deals coming up or new menu items, you’ll gain a lot more admiration for free information they can use by themselves.
Recipes enjoy a click-through rate that is 42% higher than any other kind of pin. So share recipes for food or drinks you serve. Your followers will appreciate it in ways that will ultimately support your bottom line. The best practice for this is to post the recipes to your website. This way when you pin the recipe, it leads traffic back to your website.
Keep it Short & Sweet
Studies show that shorter descriptions get more click through. So keep your descriptions short, like tweets.
Video is the
future today. Post videos on your neighborhood to attract locals, videos from your suppliers (for example, if you use D’Artagnan or a particular brand of wine), or videos that you take at your bar or restaurant. This is the ultimate type of video. It will allow your followers to get to know your staff, food, and location.
As mentioned above, make friends. Pin your suppliers’ pins as well as your customers. This will let them know you care AND you’ll be able to work off their social circle. Collaborate with Local Bloggers by reaching out to them. Invite them to pin to your travel boards. This will make it so you are always in their mind. While you’re at it…invite them into your place so they know what you’re all about.
If your bar or restaurant hasn’t embraced Pinterest yet, you’re doing so at your own risk. While you may not end up with as many followers as Applebees or Chili’s, there is plenty of potentials if you follow the above advice.
Use a Pinterest Scheduling Tool
As a rule, the restaurant industry is hectic and changes at all times. People call out, fridges break…that means that while you’re putting out fires, you will forget to publish to those amazing Pinterest boards. However, if you set aside 15 minutes per week to pre-schedule your pins, you can set things and forget them. Socialdraft is an easy to use Pinterest Scheduling tool.
Socialdraft allows you to add team members to your account. This way your team can all schedule pins all from one place and you can control all the content before it gets out there.
Socialdraft also allows you to schedule recurring pins. This is an awesome feature if you have reviews to share, recurring specials, and anything that you don’t want your audience to forget.
Socialdraft does tons more, so why don’t you take us for a risk-free trial today.
Welp. Facebook dropped the bomb we all knew was coming, but were hoping would come much later. Facebook announced that they’d be heavily penalizing business pages that get little to no engagement and focusing on conversations between people – not people and pages – but people and people. This is not an issue for pages that have been focusing on engagement from the get-go, but those that were using the platform to broadcast need to switch their strategy or move elsewhere. Twitter may be a good place to look. Yes, I know everyone thought that Twitter was dead, but we’ve been loving Twitter, especially over the past year. If you take the time to schedule with a strategy AND engage, you can build strong relationships and see a return on investment from your efforts. Today, we’ll give you our favorite Twitter Tips for success so you too can fall in love with the network.
Twitter Tips For Success
But, before we get to these tips, let’s discuss why you should reconsider investing time on the network you thought was dying a slow death.
- Twitter has 330 million active users
- Twitter allows you to directly talk to your target audience
- Twitter has been ignored for the past few years, this means the early bird can get the worm
- People are still talking about your brand on Twitter
Are you ready to give Twitter another try? Here are your Twitter tips for success.
While Twitter is the land of 280 characters, don’t rely on text alone. Images take up tons of real estate and that means that if you add an eye-catching image that is “easy to read” you can increase your chances of having people stop, look, read and engage. Don’t rely on just photos, experiment with videos and GIFs to get the most out of that valuable piece of land.
RESEARCH YOUR HASHTAGS
Just like Google has keywords, Twitter has hashtags. Research your hashtags before tweeting to make sure they are relevant to how you want to be found. Make sure that you don’t go crazy on hashtags though, you want to make sure that your tweet is easy to read and understand.
Quote industry leaders and make sure to @tag them on your tweets. You will receive attention not only from those who admire the person you are quoting but – if you are smart about the way you craft the quote tweet – you may even start a conversation with that influencer.
USE EMOJIS & SPECIAL CHARACTERS
Emojis add much-needed context to text. Use emojis to get the subtleties of what you are trying to say through your tweet. They’re also eye-catching, so tweets with emojis have more chances of being seen and being engaged with.
People on Twitter love stats and numbers. When you add numbers to tweets in an informational way, you increase your chances of getting more retweets and likes.
USE A CALL-TO-ACTION
Don’t be shy to ask for those things you want. Add a call-to-action to your tweets to get your followers to do what you want them to.
KEEP YOUR TWEETS SHORT
Yes, we know that Twitter increased their character limit, but Twitter is all about being short & sweet. Shorter tweets are easier to read and digest, making them more shareable. We suggest that you keep your tweets between 71 and 100 characters to get the most engagement (but if you don’t the Socialdraft dashboard does support the new longer character length).
We love Bitly. That’s one of the reasons Socialdraft users can connect their business bitly to our dashboard. Shortening links with Bitly lets you make the most of your character and gets you tons of cool analytics. We highly recommend it as a URL shortener.
THINK ABOUT A TWEET’S HALF-LIFE
While your tweets will get engagement throughout time, it is the first few hours where you have the most chances of getting it seen. When you have a super important tweet coming out, make sure you’re signed in and engaging with people to draw more attention and make the most of your tweet’s half-life.
The best way to get someone’s attention on the street or at a party is to call out their name, right? It’s the same on Twitter. When you are working on your social media calendar, think of those people you want to target. Check out their websites and blogs and see if they have any content that would be relevant to your audience. Schedule hares of this content AND when you do, make sure to @mention them. You’re doing them a favor by spreading their word and they will at least like your tweet…at best begin to engage you.
PLACE LINKS BETWEEN YOUR TWEET
Placed links at the first quarter of your tweet. For some reason, this increases the CTR.
POST AT THE RIGHT TIME
Some sites will tell you “the best time to tweet is xyz”. Don’t listen to them. Check analytics and find out what the best times really are. Then, test out posting at and around this time to see what gives you the best results.
The whole idea behind social media scheduling, especially on Twitter is to save time so you can engage. As such, each time you schedule a tweet, ask yourself:
- does this encourage engagement with my target audience?
- does this encourage engagement with an influencer?
An easy way to achieve these is to include people in your tweets – both your audience and those influencers. Create a list of influencers, and when you are creating your Twitter calendar, check their content. Chances are they are in the same industry and are creating content that will interest your audience as well. Schedule these pieces of content following the tips above making sure that they are @tagged on the posts.
Then, in order to meet your goal of saving time so you can engage, schedule in two ways:
Schedule evergreen content as recurring posts. Because Twitter is a constantly moving feed, it is ok to repeat content. You just need to be smart about it. If you use a dashboard such as Socialdraft, you can schedule posts that repeat daily, weekly and monthly and schedule them to stop after a certain number of occurrences. It’s quite handy here.
Schedule via CSV
Another great tool. If you have evergreen content about your brand or industry, take the time to create multiple csvs that you can schedule each week, month or year. Need some examples?
- Yearly holidays: Create a CSV that contains all your holiday posts. Then each year, just adjust the posting dates. Upload this once a year and save tons of time.
- Reviews & press about your brand or business: Create a CSV of your positive online mentions. Upload these monthly and randomize them with TrueTime so you don’t bore your audience.
If you are now ready to take on Twitter, you will need a Twitter scheduler to help you make things happen. Take Socialdraft for a risk-free trial. You can do tons of things with Socialdraft including:
- Schedule posts to multiple Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Pinterest boards, LinkedIn pages and Instagram accounts
- Schedule single, recurring, or duplicate posts
- Bulk upload posts via CSV
- Lets you know when your brand is mentioned online & has options for quick sharing
- Lets you engage on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Lets you schedule Instagram reposts from Instagram to all other social networks.
- Pull reports on Twitter and Facebook.
- And much more.
Most local businesses now have a pretty decent understanding of how to use Facebook and Twitter to promote their content. Reddit is now slowly becoming part of the non-redditor consciousness. It is quite a different animal, and if not handled properly, reddit can easily backfire on your marketing efforts. Before you get started on this guide to local business best practices on reddit, make sure you’ve read through our reddit basics guide.
Reddit is a community of smaller communities (called subreddits). Earlier this year, it was getting 112 MILLON unique monthly visitors who submitted and commented on videos, blog posts, news sites and more. Although Reddit is a site where you are encouraged to share; unlike Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, broadcasting is NOT encouraged.
As a local business, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not being on reddit. It is a great place to keep up with your industry, find out what your competitors (and customers) are up to, and to find out what is going on in your geographical area.
THINGS YOU NEED TO WORRY ABOUT
1. Mods: reddit’s communities (subreddits) have moderators who set the rules of the subreddit. They are also in charge of keeping up the quality of the community. This means mods can ban and shadowban (ban people without their knowledge) users from reddit. Mods are not employees. They do this task for free. This should give you an idea as to their passion for the community. Don’t mess with them.
2. Redditors: They are quick to call bs and are liberal with their downvotes. They are also quick to react in the real world – it is not uncommon for redditors to band together against someone who they are unhappy with. They’re also tech savvy – so take heed.
BEST PRACTICES FOR BUSINESSES USING REDDIT
1. Be Respectful: The most important thing is to have respect for the reddit community. Don’t think that you can spam them or trick them into liking, engaging, sharing, or clicking through to your content.
2. Be Honest: Create an account on reddit and when posting something about your local business, be transparent that you are either the business owner or community manager. When posting, start off by saying who you are, and why you’re posting. The community manager for a bar in Hoboken, NJ posted their anniversary party in the city’s subreddit. They were vigilant, answered questions, and the bar was packed that night.
3. Be Clear: If you are unclear whether you are being too promotional, message a mod directly to ask. Be honest about who you are, what content you want to push and ask if it is ok. Keep in mind they may tell you no. If they tell you know, take it gently. This could help you build a relationship of trust with this mod who may allow you to post content later.
4. Be of Service: Reddit is not a platform for self promotion. It is a community of communities. As such you should be pushing out content to help the community, not just trying to promote yourself. Say, for example that you are a local business owner in Hoboken who has joined the r/Hoboken community. Post useful articles about parking changes, community events that are not related to your business. Build your reputation as a trusted member of the community and engage in conversation. This will make it so that when you do post that special event at your place, people will already know who you are AND that you are not there just to spam them with your deals.
5. Offer reddit exclusives: One of my favorite businesses in the r/NYC subreddit is Professor Thoms (a sportsbar in NYC). Somehow, their specials always end up in the subreddit and the place is constantly packed full of redditors. You could set up a redditor night and offer a special discount.
6. Read the Rules: Each subreddit has its own rules. Read them carefully before posting anything to make sure you aren’t violating any of them.
7. Keep a Private Account: reddit is awesome. You’ll probably want to spend lots of time there and you will probably end up commenting on things that strike a personal chord. Your reddit history is public. This means that anyone can go back into your history and see everything you’ve posted, commented on, upvoted/downvoted. It would be smart to keep a business account and a personal so as not to offend your potential customer base.
8. Join the right communities: Start off by joining the subreddit for your city/neighborhood/state. Own a restaurant in San Francisco – join r/sanfrancisco. Have an airbnb to rent out during sxsw? Join r/austin. Then start looking for other subs that could work for you – in the case of the airbnb owner – you could join r/sxsw. Say you are a local children’s apparel shop that offers shipping…join r/parenting. It’s up to you to figure out which subreddits will work best for your local business. You’ll figure out the right subs as you truly become a part of the community. You can also create your own sub – but we recommend you wait on that until you’ve gotten a feel for the community.
HOW TO POST ON REDDIT
1. Use effective titles: The title of your reddit post can make or break you. Make your title funny, engaging, or a little weird to encourage people to click thru.
2. 9:1 Posting: In order to ascertain that you are not being spammy, only 1/10 posts should be your own content – I’d be even more conservative still.
3. Pick the right subreddit: A local business may be tempted to only post to their city/neighborhood subreddit. This may not always yield you the best results (and it may appear to be super spammy).
4. Share quality content: Think outside the box, don’t just share a page to your website with boring text to your special deal. Create a funny youtube video, or maybe a podcast. If the content is not shareable, reddit will most likely ignore it. You could even do an IAMA…but that deserves its own blog post.
Reddit takes work, I’d say more so than any other social network out there. Don’t expect your content to resonate if you are not a part of the community. As part of the community, make sure to follow the rules and provide quality content that is not all yours and not all promotional.
Before you even think about how to use reddit for business, you’ll need to understand exactly what it is. This post will give you a breakdown of all reddit basics. You may have heard of reddit as the website where lonely, socially awkward people post cat videos and talk about My Little Pony. Or maybe you’ve heard of some of reddits darker aspects (not as bad as 4Chan – but you probably don’t want to go there). Both of these are true, but reddit is also the virtual home of some amazing historians, the Guvernator, and a great place to get World News. Truth is, reddit is a treasure trove of information and people of all kinds. Let’s get started on your starter guide to Reddit.
How to Use reddit For Business – Part 1
What is reddit?
Reddit is an online chat room where redditors (reddit’s members) can post links, pictures, and ask questions. They can also comment and vote on posts (upvote/downvote). There are communities called subreddits (sub for short) where these conversations take place. These are watched over by mods whose job it is to maintain the quality of the sub. If you misbehave, they can delete your posts and comments, or block your account (get shadowbanned).
Does it cost money to join reddit?
Nope, reddit is free.
How much traffic does reddit get?
Reddit gets around 114,943,104 unique visitors per month.
Who is on reddit?
The reddit demographic is American men (59%) between the ages of 25 and 34. If you are marketing to this audience, you’re golden…but that does not mean you cannot market to other demographics – wait until you learn about subreddits.
How do you vote on reddit?
Unlike Facebook, reddit has an unlike button. If you like a post, you can “upvote” it. If you dislike a post, you can “downvote” it. The more upvotes a post gets, the more visibility it will usually get.
What are subreddits?
Subreddits are specific communities in reddit devoted to certain topics. They can be almost anything you can think of, for example, here are some of my favorites:
Ask Science – people ask question about science & they are answered by science professionals.
Small Business – a place where small business owners chat with each other (great resource)
Aww – where people post cute things that make you say “aww”
Travel – pictures, questions, and general travel information
How Deep Can subreddits get?
Very deep. Let’s take The Song of Ice and Fire books. Just to give you an example of how niche subreddits can get:
Game of Thrones: General information on the books and the show
ASOIAF: Book specific subreddit (nothing on the show)
Freefolk: Open and unmoderated. Anything goes here.
ASOIAF Reread: Where people re-read parts of the books and discuss
Dreadfort: Subreddit dedicated to the Boltons (I don’t frequent that)
How do you sort information in a subreddit?
The first time browsing a subreddit can be a little intimidating. On a positive note, there are ways to parse out the information in the sub.
1. Hot: reddit’s algorithm pushes recently popular posts here. These are usually the first posts you will see when you get to a sub.
2. New: Pretty self explanatory. This is where you find the most recent posts.
3. Top: These posts have received the most amount of upvotes on this subreddit. It does not matter when they were submitted.
4. Rising: These posts are starting to become popular and get upvotes
5. Controversial: This type of post is probably getting an almost equal amount of upvotes and downvotes.
6. Gilded: If someone buys you reddit gold for one of your posts. Reddit gold gets you a better reddit experience and perks from partners.
7. Promoted: These are posts that people are advertising on reddit.
How do I find the right subreddit to post to?
Say you’re a new restaurant POS system and you’re looking to get some feedback from restaurateurs. How do you know what subreddit will hold the most value to you? Well, you’ll need to do your research. Reddit is kinda huge, so you’ll have to explore…but this type of post could go on r/askreddit (too broad an audience if you ask me), r/kitchenconfidential (but this is more of a home for chefs, not necessarily the decision maker on a POS system), or r/smallbusiness.
Reddit asks that you DON’T submit a “link” to multiple subreddits. This is considered spam and can get you banned.
Before you post, you’ll also want to check the sub’s wiki for rules and regulations so that your post does not get removed.
Then you’ll want to check the audience size and the engagement of that subreddit. It may have 100,000 people, but if there is little to no conversation, you’re wasting your time.
As hinted at above, each sub will have its own rules and regulations, but reddit itself has some golden rules that need to be followed by every user in every sub. For more information, check out The Rules of reddit.
1. Don’t spam.
2. Don’t ask for votes or engage in vote manipulation.
3. Don’t post personal information.
4. No child pornography or sexually suggestive content featuring minors.
5. Don’t break the site or do anything that interferes with normal use of the site.
If you’re not sure, reach out to the mods (you can find them with a control + f or you can look on the right side of the page). Click through and message them to get their blessing. When you message the mod, be very transparent about who you are, what you do, what you want to post and why it is a valuable piece of content to the subreddit. They may still say no, but this is better than posting something and getting downvoted (or worse – shadowbanned).
Besides the cardinal law stated above, redditors are encouraged to follow reddiquette. These are rules of common courtesy. Keep these in mind when crafting any post or when replying on reddit. Reddiquette was created for a reason and not following it can have dire consequences.
Can I post links to promote my business?
Of course. You just need to keep reddiquette and the community in mind when you do so. These quick tips will help you when figuring out how to post your own content:
1. Don’t spam.
2. Be active on reddit.
3. 9:1 Posting: One out of ten posts could be your own content (I’d make it less than this)
4. Follow reddiquette.
5. Follow the rules of the sub
6. Be ready to be torn apart by the lions (redditors call spam quite fast, and they are merciless…so beware what you post)
Part two delves into the value of reddit to a business.
Instagram is unlike all other social networks. I’ve been recently getting more and more active and LOVE the interaction and connections to be made here. However, it is not as easy to get engagement and to grow your account as it used to be. First, Instagram was purchased by Facebook. Then, the Instagram algorithm was put into place. Lastly, Instagram announced not just that it has 800 million users, 500 million of which log on daily and 200 million who advertise. This means that there is more competition and that you need to be smarter than ever in how you use Instagram.
How to Grow Your Instagram Following
As a brand or local business, you may be a little concerned on how to get started with your Instagram account and how to grow your audience. But if you take it step by step, you will be just fine.
Understand Your Audience
If you are going to grow your Instagram, you need to know your audience. Instagram’s demographic has changed tons, especially with its rapid growth. Let’s look at who uses Instagram today:
- 80% of Instagram users are outside the US
- 31% of American women and 24% of men use Instagram
- 32% of all people who use the Internet use Instagram
- 59% of people between the ages of 18 & 29 who use the web use Instagram
- 33% of people 30-49 years old who use the web use Instagram
- 38% of women who use the internet use Instagram
- 26% of men who use the internet use Instagram
- 17% of teenagers say Instagram is the most important social network
Start by making a user profile. Then begin to think about what other accounts like yours they will like. Check out the followers of those accounts and engage them. This is your audience. One Socialdraft user, Cognac Maniacs, represents the Cognac region. Since this beverage is very popular within the male urban market., Instagram was the perfect platform for them. They were able to grow their account organically on the platform by 5,000 followers in just 3 months by engaging followers of similar accounts.
2. Make Things Personal
Instagram is all about passion…and pictures, of course. Make sure your content expresses that passion, be creative. This is the last place you want to be boring, repetitive, or overly salesy. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind and don’t bore your audience with constant product shots. Instead, highlight your team at work, take pics of your neighborhood, or of silly things that happen. A repost campaign is perfect for this. With a repost campaign, you are publishing other people’s content. They are the ones creating the message, not you. It’s all about rewarding your audience for being loyal. If you use Socialdraft, scheduling these reposts is super easy.
3. Take a Photography Class
Yes, I said that. Instagram is all about visuals, and high-quality photos and videos can make or break your marketing efforts. Luckily, you have the internet at your fingers and there are tons of great tutorials out there. Start off with learning about the rule of thirds.
4. Get Appy
There are tons of apps out there to help you create amazing photos, check out Afterlight, VSCOcam, PicFrame, and PhotoStudio. These are a few of our staff’s favorites photo editing apps to get you started.
5. Post Daily
We polled Socialdraft users, and the overwhelming opinion was that not posting daily can result in lower engagement. This is dangerous, as your fans can lose interest, or your competition could swoop in and steal them from you. Make sure to post on a daily basis, twice a day if possible. Don’t overpost either. Once a day is good for most brands but look at analytics. Your brand is not average, so make use of the info given to you by Instagram’s analytics dashboard to figure out what is best for you.
6. Engage (Lots)
With all the extra competition out there, you can’t rely on hashtags and the algorithm to get people to come to you. The best way to get followers is to get out there and engage them. Find other accounts that are similar to yours (same industry or brand type). Find the people who engage them by checking out their latest images. Click through to their profile and engage them. Comment on their images, but make the comments good. “Great picture” is not going to get you anywhere. Engage them, like their image and comment. You will begin to see them reciprocate.
7. Get Organized
You create a calendar and strategy for Facebook and Twitter, you should do the same for Instagram. Yes, I know you can’t “publish” posts, but with Socialdraft you can schedule your posts. They will go to your phone and you can schedule from there. It is the best way to make sure you publish daily.
8. Repost Community Content
This is especially powerful if you are a brand (as in the cognac example above) or even a local business. Search for content created about you on Instagram (super easy to do on Socialdraft). Then, share this content not just to Instagram, but the rest of your social networks. We recommend that you ask permission before you do. When you do this you are both complimenting the content creator, and starting a conversation. This is a fabulous way to build brand advocates.
A game is no fun if you don’t keep score. This also applies to Instagram. The one issue with Instagram is that it only gives you 7 days worth of analytics, so make sure to keep track of them on Google docs.
10. Shorten URLS
Since you can’t add links to pictures on Instagram, you can use a URL shortener (like Bit.ly) to create easy to remember URLs that will help point people to where you want them to go. This will also allow you to measure if people are actually going outside of Instagram to your website. If you can get them to do this, then you’re an Instagram success.
Got questions about Instagram? Need help with Social Media? Ask for an invite to our Facebook group. We’re there to help!
One way to promote your business and build support for your band is to create a Facebook fan page. A fan page differs from a personal Facebook profile because fan pages are visible to everybody on the Internet. Anyone on Facebook can connect to and receive updates from a page by becoming a fan.
Share a User Post on Facebook’s Fan Page
As with a friend’s profile, Facebook pages enable public figures, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, community organizations and other entities to create a public presence on Facebook.
How to Create a Facebook Fan Page
Log in to your Facebook account.
Click on the settings gear on the top right-hand corner of your page.
Click on “Advertising.”
Look under “Step 1: Build Your Facebook Page” to the left of the center of the screen and click on “Create a Page.”
Click on the type of page you’d like to create.
There are six categories:
* Local business or place: If you choose this option, you need to select the category of your business or place and to type in the address of your business.
* Company, organization or institution: If you choose this option, you’ll need to select the category of your company, organization, or inawstitution, and to type in the name of your company.
* Brand or product: For this option, you’ll need to select the category of product and to type in the name of the product.
* Artist, band, or public figure: For this option, you’ll need to select the category for the type of artist, musician, or public figure you’ll be promoting as well as his or her name.
* Entertainment: For this category, you’ll need to type in the type of entertainment as well as the name.
* Cause or community name: For this option, you’ll have to type in the name of the cause or community.
For all of these categories, you’ll have to click to “Agree to Facebook Pages Terms” before you can move on.
Click on “Get Started.” After you’ve chosen the appropriate category and provided basic information, you’ll be able to start adding some information for your page. There’s a few more steps but you get the idea.
Difference Between a Fan Page and a Group
As David A. George points out, unlike groups, fan pages are visible to unregistered users and are thus indexed in search engines. Unlike pages, groups allow you to send out a “bulk invite” while with pages you will be forced to drop some invites manually.
As a result, groups are better for viral marketing, while pages are generally better for long-term relationships with your fans, readers or customers. Groups are generally better for hosting an active discussion and attracting quick attention.
Facebook Recently Updated Their Fan Page Layout
We’d like to extend a hat tip to Luke Beaumont for this little gem. Beaumont reports that Facebook recently updated their fan page layout and moved some vital features in the process.
It’s still possible to share fan posts to your Facebook page but you’ll no longer find this feature in the activity log where it used to be. When Beaumont queried Social Media Examiner about this topic, they said it wasn’t possible.
The reason why you want to share these user posts is that it’s free advertising: great reviews that are unpaid and user generated. They give validation to your brand and make for great content.
To share a fan post on your page timeline just follow Beaumont’s simple instructions:
1. Go to the drop down arrow at the top of Facebook on the right hand side and change to the page you want. (See Fig 1)
2. Scroll down to the ‘posts to page box’ and click the top of this box. (See Fig 2)
3. Once all the post pop up, scroll to the post you want to share on your timeline and click the “share button.” (See Fig 3)
4. Add any additional information or a comment in the text box then press the blue “share” button. (See Fig 4)
5. A confirmation message will briefly pop up. Press the X in the upper right hand side of the box to close it down (See Fig 5)
6. Click the name of your page at the top of the screen on the right-hand side to refresh the page. (See Fig
7. That’s it you’re done. The post has now been shared on your page.
How to Manage & Grow Your Social Media Accounts
Socialdraft is your all-in-one tool for Social Media management. Socialdraft allows you to:
Schedule posts to multiple Social media accounts
Monitor your online reputation
Have multiple people create and post content
and much more
If you’re curious about how Socialdraft works, take us for a risk-free trial.
A classic example of the power social media wields over businesses involves an incident with the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York. Recent media coverage revealed that the hotel fines couples $500 for every negative review posted any where online by one of their guests.
Since a negative review on websites like Yelp could possibly cause permanent damage to a business, even if the customer review is unfair and lacks objectivity, the Union Street Guest House reasoned that the best way to keep negative reviews off Yelp and other sites was to simply fine guests $500 for writing a bad review. The hotel claimed they would will also fine you $500 if you’re staying there to attend a wedding at another venue, but leave a negative review about your stay.
The hotel included the following policy on its website, which has since been removed:
“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not. If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event […] and given us a deposit of any kind […] there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review […] placed on any Internet site by anyone in your party.”
And although the hotel agreed to refund the money if the negative review was taken offline, the Union Street Guest House’s Yelp page is currently full of one-star reviews for dreadful service and intimidation tactics.
One reviewer wrote: “I stayed here for a wedding in May. Let’s just say this was the worst experience I’ve ever had at a hotel… The staff rubbed both myself and my gf the wrong way with their unhelpful, rude and inhospitable manor. The bed felt lumpy and the rooms were way to hipster for my tastes. I ultimately had to sleep in a sleeping bag to avoid the lumps. Heck I would have had a better experience if I just camped out on the lawn outside. The worst part, however, was the ‘hotel’ policy about reviews. So in an effort to ensure that the bride and groom (whom are two of my best friends) don’t get charged I felt it best to whip out my rarely used 2nd yelp account.”
Since the media backlash, the Union Street Guest House quickly recanted their claim in a pathetic attempt at damage control. According to Ars Technica, the hotel posted the following statement on its Facebook page:
“The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced.”
But as Ars Technica points out, no amount of Facebook spin is going to fix the damage, which is now irreparable, and once the news leaked, the Union Street Guest House’s Yelp page became a war zone. Other businesses have also tried to repress bad reviews, but Ars notes the harder a business tries to crack down, the angrier the masses get.
“You’re In It Whether You Want To Be Or Not”
San Francisco chef Jeff Mason characterized the Yelp review situation this way — “You’re in it whether you want to be or not, and that’s what’s so frustrating.”
Calls placed by Ars to the Union Street Guest House’s main phone number went unanswered. As Lee Hutchinson, Senior Reviews Editor at Ars, so aptly explains:
“Even a minuscule number of negative reviews can have a disproportionately large detrimental effect on a business’s margins, and it’s easy to see why the Union Street Guest House might want to try to be proactive in preventing negative reviews from happening in the first place.”
But the Union Street Guest House clearly made a grave error in judgement by fining guests $500 for negative reviews, which can hardly be seen as “proactive.” It should be clear to anyone that the most appropriate proactive move on the hotel’s part would be to address and correct specific criticisms.
Yelp is as Much Savior as Antagonist
The irony is, as San Francisco Magazine’s Rebecca Flint Marx notes, that many restaurants also owe their success to sites like Yelp. “As Charles Bililies, the owner of Souvla, a modestly hip four-month-old souvlaki joint in Hayes Valley, says, ‘You want some feedback, but don’t want to necessarily empower people so they are controlling you.’ Psychologically, he says, ‘it’s a very, very fine line to walk.’”
How to Manage & Grow Your Social Media Accounts
Instead of resorting to scaring your guests and customers, begin to work on a strong social media and reputation monitoring strategy. For this you need Socialdraft, your all-in-one tool for Social Media management. Socialdraft allows you to:
Schedule posts to multiple Social media accounts
Have multiple people create and post content
and much more
If you’re curious about how Socialdraft works, take us for a risk-free trial.
Twitter is an effective social networking tool for developing leads and communicating with customers. And Twitter, along with Facebook and Pinterest, is among the top three social media platforms generating web traffic. But as Omkar Mishra with Digital Insights points out, until recently, Twitter account holders had to rely on third party apps to measure crucial Twitter data and post activity.
Since going public, Twitter has introduced Twitter Analytics for different components on Twitter. And Mishra does a good job of breaking down the Twitter Analytics dashboard, available to everyone who has created ad accounts on Twitter. But now you don’t have to be an advertiser with Twitter to access the dashboard; you can use the Analytics Dashboard by simply setting up a Twitter Ads profile. Twitter Analytics is a great tool allowing brands to see what’s working and generate more out of daily tweets.
Twitter Analytics Dashboard
After logging in to the Twitter Ads or Twitter Analytics platform, the default dashboard has three components. The dashboard’s components allows you to decipher the performance of your account on a tweet level basis. The Impressions metric lets you see the number of times your followers saw your tweet on Twitter.
Twitter also lets you compare your performance over the 28 day period with specific actionable metrics such as Engagement Rate, Favorites, Replies, ReTweets, Link Clicks and Impressions. Now it is much easier to benchmark your content performance. The tweets are segregated into different categories so you can view a Tweet by Tweet performance for your organic Tweets, Replies and Promoted Tweets. Now if a conversation with a Twitter user is generating engagement, you will know on this dashboard.
The Dashboard’s Key Metrics:
Impressions: The number of times users on Twitter view your tweet in their timeline.
Engagement: The total interactions that have occurred on the tweet by the user which includes all the clicks on the Tweet (hashtags, link clicks, avatar, username & tweet expansion) along with the usual engagement metrics like favorites, replies, retweets as well as new follows.
Engagement Rate: The Engagement Rate for Twitter is the ratio of the Engagement actions and Impressions generated over a Tweet. The key difference to note here is Twitter is giving us the engagement rate based on impressions whereas Facebook does a similar metric based on the number of unique people reached.
The best addition to the new dashboard is the ability to download data for each tweet. The “Export Data” option at the right-hand corner gives you a lot of meta data attached with each particular tweet to play with. The information can be downloaded to an excel file for further analysis.
The following metrics are available in the downloaded:
User Profile Clicks
embedded media clicks
App Opens (If you are promoting an App or sharing one)
App install attempts
The same metrics are available for organic as well as promoted tweets. The level of detail allows brands to accurately determine which tweet resulted in more engagement, and which tweet resulted in higher new followers/app installs. The user consumption can be broken down into specific actions to analyze the behavior of your Twitter followers and plan your content accordingly.
Know Your Followers
This section was introduced some time ago in the Analytics dashboard and serves as a useful reminder about the growth of your Followers over time. The ‘Followers’ tab also tells you about the top interests of your followers along with the location demographics. So if you are a blog, you can leverage this data to know the interests of your followers and blog accordingly.
Through the dashboard, Digital Insights knows most of their followers are interested in Marketing and SEO and as a results they generate their content mostly based on helpful marketing content.
Twitter Card Analytics
Twitter Cards are small snippets which appear on a Twitter timeline embedding rich context to your website content. Digital Insights has integrated Twitter Cards with their blog posts and have seen a considerable increase in their CTR rate on Twitter. If you still have not integrated your website/blog with Twitter Cards, you are encouraged to do so. With the measurement framework already available, you can test it out to see if it works for your brand and how.
Twitter Cards tell you the link clicks over time to your tweets along with the top links of your website/blog which drove the maximum traffic from Twitter. The best thing about the Twitter Cards dashboard is that it also provides you with the list of Twitter users which often tweet your content and you generate the maximum traffic out of them.
Find your most influential users and build long-term relationships with them. Focus on the value providers and ask them for their opinions to create a two-way dialogue.
How to Manage & Grow Your Social Media Accounts
Socialdraft is your all-in-one tool for Social Media management. Socialdraft allows you to:
- Schedule posts to multiple Social media accounts
- Monitor your online reputation
- Have multiple people create and post content
- Pull Reports
- and much more
If you’re curious about how Socialdraft works, take us for a risk-free trial. Have questions?
In 2011, Hewlett-Packard considered downsizing its struggling PC business in favor of investing more heavily in software. The company determined there was better potential for growth in software than personal computers.
Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, suggests software is revolutionizing the business world. Andreessen, who also co-founded Netscape, points out that nearly every financial transaction, from someone buying a cup of coffee to someone trading a trillion dollars of credit default derivatives, is done in software.
To stay competitive, forward thinking businesses are using programs from this software renaissance to collate customer data in order to learn more about their customers so they can streamline services and more rapidly provide customers with what they want. Because anytime a company can accelerate the speed of acquiring and applying information to improve products and/or services, they have a clear advantage over their competitors.
Consider the emergence of high-tech companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar — mobile ride-hailing companies — that are challenging taxi industry revenues in big cities around the country. Pando Daily notes: “We’re beginning to see real world evidence that this apps revolution, as Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and the others roll out across the country, is actually working. Another industry being successfully disrupted to the benefit of the consumer.”
This has forced the taxicab industry to come up with apps of their own, such as Flywheel and Hailo that help people hail and pay for regular cabs from their phones, just as they would for Ubers, Sidecars or Lyfts. Liz Gannes with All Things notes that if cabs had made these changes just a couple of years ago, it’s doubtful the ride-sharing companies would have had such an impact.
Pando suggests the taxi cartel in many US cities is being dismantled. “In fact, there are fewer NYC taxi medallions today (13,605) than there were in 1937 (16,900) when the medallion system first created the NYC taxi cartel.”
Companies like Netflix and Redbox successfully used data related to customer purchasing trends to destroy Blockbuster. In 2002, Redbox, initially funded by McDonald’s Corporation, placed four automated convenience store kiosks that sold grocery items such as milk, eggs, and sandwiches as well as 11 DVD rental kiosks in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Redbox withdrew the grocery kiosks within a year, but the DVD-rental kiosks succeeded. Coinstar ultimately paid McDonald’s and other shareholders between $169 and $176 million for the company.
Netflix has used data collection to learn more about its customers than any of its competitors. Netflix has created a jaw dropping 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies. The Atlantic commented on Netflix’s massive data collection:
“Using large teams of people specially trained to watch movies, Netflix deconstructed Hollywood. They paid people to watch films and tag them with all kinds of metadata…They capture dozens of different movie attributes. They even rate the moral status of characters. When these tags are combined with millions of users viewing habits, they become Netflix’s competitive advantage. The company’s main goal as a business is to gain and retain subscribers.”
Back in 2000, Blockbuster declined several offers to purchase Netflix for $50 million; as with the taxicab industry not taking the initiative to come up with apps, if Blockbuster had the insight, or utilized software to collect data on customer trends, they would have remained on top.
As this TechCrunch article illustrates, Nest is reinventing and disrupting the thermostat and smoke alarm industries by building better hardware and smarter software than what exists today. “As you adjust the temperature in your home, Nest learns what your preference is so you ultimately don’t have to. Data is central to Nest, as the software becomes more intelligent the more it’s used.”
According to International Data Corporation (IDC), demand for business analytics solutions will continue to be driven by better and faster decision-making and the competitive advantage from quickly analyzing and acting on information.
“There is growing quantifiable evidence that data-driven decision making enabled by business analytics solutions provides a competitive difference,” said Dan Vesset, Program Vice President, Business Analytics at IDC. This, along with broad interest in big data, has pushed the technology to the top of many executive agendas and ushered it into the mainstream market.”
The fastest growth has occurred in three primary segments of the business analytics software market — the data warehousing platform software segment, the business intelligence and analytic tools segment and the performance management and analytic applications segment.
For small businesses the objective isn’t about collecting massive amounts of general information; it’s about gathering specific data of any size, and then finding the most appropriate software to analyze that data in order to anticipate the needs and desires of your customers. In the most literal of terms, businesses that don’t critically collate customer data to prognosticate customer needs and trends become throwbacks destined to fail.