The Importance of Using Social Media During Your Holiday Rush
I want to talk about an experience I had today, not in a tantrum wahh this happened to me, but in a manner to show the importance of a business using social media to communicate to the public and its consumers.
Monday I messaged a well-loved 100-year-old cafe on the outskirts of town. This cafe is well-known for its pies, we’re talking internationally known. I asked if it was too late to put in an order for a pie for Thanksgiving. I didn’t hear back from them until Tuesday, over 24 hours later informing me that while they were not taking reservations, they would have pies but they were on a first come first serve basis.
I took this comment to mean you might not get the pie you want, but there would still be pies there. Just to cover my basis, I thought okay, think like a boomer, pick up the phone and call them. First time. Voicemail. Second time. Voice Mail. Third, Fourth, Fifth….. EVERY. TIME. VOICE. MAIL. I knew if I wasn’t getting through either were the boomers. So now this is not just a Millenial problem of social media. This is a business problem. There is no way for the public to get ahold of anyone at this place. I messaged them back on Facebook and am still waiting for a reply, along with my voicemail I left yesterday.
Since our office closed early I thought since I couldn’t get ahold of anyone I would go to the generation before the boomers, the Silent Generation, and do what they do, just show up. I drove up and the cafe was super busy. The line to pick up reserved pies was long and not moving. When I went inside the place was empty. Not of people, but of pies. There were none left, only handwritten paper signs saying sorry, we’re sold out.
I was calm, it takes more than a missing pie to get me riled up, but the people behind me were pissed. They had driven up from Scottsdale like they do every year to pick up a pie no reservation needed, only to find the store empty. They were asking if there were raw pies they could take home and cook themselves, what were they supposed to do.
A man, who I am assuming is one of the owners, was a petite old man with white as white hair, a voice level just above a whisper and was doing his best to field all the questions. He kept reiterating that they had been taking orders for three weeks and they were on the news so everyone should have known when they were taking orders. He also mentioned fielding orders from emails, though he didn’t understand that people were contacting the cafe through Facebook Messenger or what that was at all.
I know these are first world problems and we are talking about pie, but it’s a great opportunity to talk about how important social media is to businesses and how today’s consumers communicate with businesses.
People use social media to connect directly with companies, it feels more personable than a contact form. The expectation is to get a response within one hour.
83% of Female and 73% of Male internet users are on Facebook and 56% of that total log into the platform DAILY. Making Facebook the most visited website. EVER.
As I was experiencing this as a consumer, my advertising brain was firing on all cylinders. I started talking to the women behind the counter in the back asking them if they had someone who was dedicated to running their social media, how they advertised, and what their experience has been like during this insane rush turning people away. I decided to start observing, so I stood near the counter for about fifteen minutes and watched as couple after couple walked to the back seeing empty pie shelves.
I listened to each couple ask the same question as the couple that came before them. “Are you sure they are all gone?” “We drove up here from <blank>, are you making any more?” and so on. After the couples would give up and start heading out the door I positioned myself to drum up a conversation. I asked them where they came from, if they had Cafe Pie at Thanksgiving before, and what they planned on doing for pie now.
I know you think I’m nuts, but this is ingrained in me. I see a marketing fiasco and I want to figure it out and find ways to improve the situation.
Most people were from at least 20 miles away, it was about a 50/50 split of whether they had the pie on their Thanksgiving table before (the ones that had, said they had never made a reservation before just always picked it up the day before), and most had no clue what to do or where they would get their pie from.
My Wheels Start Spinning
Of course, I start seeing a branding problem arise. I start seeing the long game being affected by people who will stop considering this pie shop as an option for holiday pies or pies altogether. So here are three things they can do to help alleviate the problem moving forward. These three things might help your small business as well.
1. Run A Social Campaign
To their credit, Cafe did post a text-only Facebook post on 17 November 2018 at 11 am. The post received 21 likes, 6 comments, and 5 shares. Even though I like Cafe on Facebook, I never once saw this on my feed. This is where the opportunity to run a Facebook campaign comes in. Take the three weeks you will be taking pre-orders and push ads to the people that like your page.
2. Take Orders Online
To reserve a pie you have to call the Cafe and during the rush, you have to leave a message. While I called after the deadline, no one ever picked up or returned my call. This is not a good business practice. Something that would help would be to shift your online ordering or reservations online. It would be a great way to automate your process and gather consumer information. One way would be to use Google Forms if you collect payment on pick-up. Or something like PayPal if you need to collect payments up front. Both options allow for ease of data collection and organization.
3. Do Not Rely on Traditional Media
A decade and a half ago being on the news or the radio was a great way to get your message out. The internet was a baby to consumers, Facebook was just launching to colleges only. Twitter didn’t exist. Insta what? Fast forward to 2018, people 25-40 don’t have cable. They subscribe to Netflix or Hulu. They stream video on YouTube. Not surprisingly,
The median age of a primetime Fox News viewer is 68, according to Nielsen. That means half of the channel’s viewers are older than 68. CNN’s median primetime viewer, meanwhile, is 59.
Use social media to live tweet what is happening on pick-up day, go live on Facebook to show the last pumpkin pie going out the doors, or even just have static graphics letting people know an up to date status on what is happening with your business. You will have a lot of more understanding, happy customers that will support the shit out of you.
And for the love of all things good in this world, if you don’t listen to me and still rely on the news, at least make sure they have the correct information. A newscaster was telling people that there were pies to be had when there were not any. What. the. actual. F?!
What to do next
I still love this cafe, but I’m still up in the air about wanting one of their delicious pies on my table for next year. Most people I talked to were thinking the same thing. While some can say, well you should plan better and all of that, consumers will never do that. That is why as businesses we have to share our messages and educate consumers with reminders. Social media is a great opportunity to do that.