Who should handle a restaurant’s social media?

Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in Featured, Marketing, Oklahoma, Small Business, SmallBiz, social media | 3 comments

Who should handle a restaurant’s social media?

This article recently ran in the Summer 2013 issue of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association’s Oklahoma Restaurateur magazine. How businesses are managing their social media is a key issue for Smirk New Media. We hope this is the beginning of a discussion of who manages online content for a company, and how it is managed strategically and creatively. Knock yourself out in the comments. – mk

Original headline: A Tiger By The Tail: Getting a handle on social media is a challenge for restaurateurs

Social media can be a scary creature for businesses — an open door for complaints and problem based on confusing tools that would be better if they just vanished.

But the truth is that social media isn’t going away. The digital generation is growing up using websites like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp as its first stop to decided whether or not to visit a restaurant and then as a quick stop to praise or complain once they are there.

This is where the fear comes in for restaurant operators. How do you best handle all of these incoming comments and questions from customers (and potential customers), while trying to get the best information out about your business? With in-house staff, an outsourced consultant or just not at all? There’s not one definitive answer, but ways to protect yourself, your business and your brand.

Some have decided to ignore social media all together, figuring it is too big of a Pandora’s Box to open. Those operators allow the conversation to go along without them and don’t track if there is any impact from a bad review or a food blogger’s rave.

Others scramble online only to put out a fire. If you watch the news, similar stories like these happen regularly. A photo posted on Facebook of an employee doing something disgusting. A horror story of bad food. After that, some restaurant may set up a presence online, just to fight the damage.

But social media needs more than just to be shut out altogether or shut down during crisis. It’s a tool that can have great benefit, day in and day out, if managed properly.

How it’s managed is the key to controlling social media and making it work as it should: As a direct connection between business and customer, which accentuates a brand, quickly solves services issues and gets more business through the door.

The debate really shouldn’t be whether a restaurant needs a social media presence, it should be how that is handled, how content is created and issues are monitored.

More and more restaurant brands are deciding to go in-house, not with a full-time marketing staff, but by adding social media management on top of the existing staff duties. Often these are shift managers, administrative assistants or even hosts and hostesses.

As a social media consultant, this raises all sorts of alarm bells. While restaurants may be able to survive with a setup like this, they definitely are sailing into dangerous waters. Here are the pros and cons of a part-time in-house social media manager:


  • They should know the brand and the product.
  • They can easily communicate with other staff and management.


  • Who is monitoring social when the staffer is doing their full-time tasks – cooking, servicing, hosting?
  • Are they skilled and trained in social media (and all of the changes that come along with the platforms), content creation (can they write well?), customer service and marketing strategy?
  • Do they know best practices?
  • Are they reliable and can they be trusted?
  • Who has control over password, account access and what’s posted? Will your brand’s social media suffer if they leave for another job?
  • Do they know how results and return on investment are calculated?

“Leaving your social brand management in the hands of someone who is not dedicated to the practice is dangerous,” says David Schwartz, a restaurant branding expert out of Nashville, “It shows a lack of appreciation of the medium and how quickly something can go spiraling downward.

“My biggest issue with this type of practice is that it sounds like an execution without a focused, strategy and plan.”

There are restaurant brands in the state which have had great success in making an investment in hiring a full-time social media marketing coordinator on staff. This works especially well for restaurants with multiple locations or groups with multiple brands.

For restaurants who want the benefits of social media, but may not have the resources of a full-time commitment, there are of course other options. One might be to develop, with outside help, a solid training and execution strategy that an in-house person could follow. Part of this strategy would be customer service and crisis plans.

Another option is to outsource your social media to an experience team of marketing and content strategists. Some operators think by doing this, they give up control of their platforms and what’s being said. That’s not the case though, as this is strategically the best of both worlds, with the brand helping craft (and approve) the content posted, while the strategists set up and monitor the accounts. Many restaurants in the Oklahoma market and beyond use this plan to get success and never miss an opportunity to promote themselves online throughout the day and never miss out when a customer is talking about them.

Social media is just another in a long line of tools to market your restaurant. How it’s used is always up to an individual operator. Just as some businesses have great ads, jingles, menus and signs, ones that show a commitment to social media strategy and execution will thrive. The only difference is social media moves a lot faster and reaches a lot more potential customers than just about anything else these days. It’s up to you to figure out how to tame it — and not be scared.




Three years later…

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in Content, Featured, Mike Koehler, OKC, Oklahoma, Small Business, SmallBiz, social media, the internet is great | 1 comment

Three years later…

So here we sit, three years after the launch of Smirk New Media.

When this time of year comes and everyone scatters out of town for vacations, work slows down and businesses do what they can to tread water until school starts, I have to wonder – “what was I thinking?”

But despite being launched in the middle of the summer in the middle of the Great Recession, our little company has survived and thrived.

And there is oh-so-much more I would love to tell you about. We are fast approaching a time of incredible growth and clients I couldn’t have imagined back in the one-dude-at-Starbucks days.

In the past three years, I have seen the social media world ebb and flow, just in our market, let alone across the virtual world. Much to our great benefit, companies now understand that having a consistent commitment to the social community to going to help their business in the long run and many of them are smart and humble enough to understand that they may need help getting there.

For a while, it looked like we would have to fight every day to just be noticed in what quickly became a pretty crowded space of social media strategists in 2011. It seemed like there were a lot of shingles being hung out, which caused me a great deal of stress a couple of years ago.

But some very wise friends taught me a valuable lesson: focus on what we were doing, what Smirk New Media was all about, and deliver as best we could to the clients who were generous enough to have us. Don’t lose sleep over competitors who will come and go. Just do what you can do.

And that’s what these three years have been. Trying, delivering, stumbling, correcting, praying, writing, trusting and growing.

Smirk New Media sits in a great position today, largely by ourselves as a agency devoted solely to social media and web content. We don’t design web sites (still) and don’t try to deliver every marketing, public relations and consulting service under the sun.

Words on the web. That’s all.

That focus has allowed us to keep away from temptations and rabbit holes. There have been blind alleys and mistakes, but all our lines have been pointing upward and the future looks very bright.

If I had any advice for anyone wanting to start any business, no matter the industry and no matter the economic climate, it would be this: Surround yourself with people who love you enough to tell the truth, help people when you can and pray.

I have many, many people out there who have been patience beyond measure and supportive beyond imagination. I hope they all know just how much I appreciate them. If I haven’t told them lately, then I will tell them again today.

All of this is because of all of them. Clients, the OKC online community, friends, brothers and sisters at church, my family, my incredible, incredible team at work and the indescribable foundation at home.

The best is yet to come.

Tweetdeck Rehabs Its Look, Simplifies Functionality

Posted by on Jun 6, 2013 in Featured, social media, Twitter | 1 comment

Tweetdeck Rehabs Its Look, Simplifies Functionality


After acquiring Tweetdeck in 2011, many of Tweetdeck’s fans feared Twitter would simply shut it down after making extensive updates to Twitter’s website and features. Instead, Twitter simply narrowed Tweetdeck’s focus, worked on its web experience and gave the dashboard a makeover that launched Wednesday.

Building up to this makeover, Tweetdeck phased out its mobile app and removed Facebook integration last month. After 2 years with the company, Tweetdeck’s founder Iain Dodsworth departed Twitter last week. Tweetdeck’s transition to Twitter-only compatibility isn’t shocking because the company is Twitter-owned, but is it a smart move?

Before getting into an analysis of this strategy, here’s a recap of all the changes Tweetdeck received in this week’s makeover:

  •  Tweetdeck’s interface has lightened up visually. Since its creation, the dashboard has always been dark gray/black with washed out white writing. The background is now light gray with black type. In some ways, the new look is an uncanny fusion of Hootsuite and USA Today’s site design.
  • They’ve relocated the dashboard menu from the top of the screen to the left side
  • The menu features some new options in the redesign. You can expand the menu to take a better look at all of its options. The menu now features an option to look at all your scheduled tweets, another feature similar to Hootsuite.
  • Each columns include and drop-down option giving you the option to search individual columns for keywords or users.
  • Every “Home” icon represents a main timeline for one of your accounts. An “@” sign signifies mentions of your account name. TweetDeck dashboards with multiple accounts will list multiple “@”s. Any accounts tracked in columns will also appear as “@”s.
  • Adding columns to your dashboard just got easier. The “Add Column” button is now part of the left menu, below the Column List. You can create columns based on any of nine different tweet facets, including “Mentions,” “Lists,” “Activity,” and search.
  • With the “Search” bar you can still search for other users, tweets or keywords, and to build a new column based upon search results, but it is now a part of the left-hand menu.

Hootsuite and Tweetdeck have been rivals since they were both launched in 2008. These completely different social media dashboards are often compared and viewed as rivals. Users managing more than one social media account often choose between these two tools. In actuality, these dashboards fulfill completely different objectives.

I’d liken the Hootsuite vs. Tweetdeck rivalry to tennis legend Roger Federer and the one-time American champ Andy Roddick. While in his prime, Federer dominated on every playing surface with a variety of superior skills, but Roddick’s Grand Slam success was primarily limited to grass courts and his record breaking fast serves that helped him reach multiple Grand Slam finals. These two were often compared, their matches highly anticipated and often filled with nail biting play. In reality, Federer defeated Roddick 21 times out of their 24 career matches. There was a contest, but Roddick, the underdog, never realized the heights of success he desired.

If Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are competing for best social media dashboard and management tool, Hootsuite will win nearly every time. Hootsuite has better analytics, compatiability with just about every relevant social platform out there and features that allow you to professionally manage multiple accounts. Tweetdeck isn’t trying to compete anymore. It’s trying to provide users the best comprehensive Twitter management dashboard.

In reality, most people using and monitoring Twitter need to do the same with their Facebook profiles. A lot of users tweeted their negative feelings when the ability to post to both Twitter and Facebook simultaneously was removed, but will these changes result in a mass exodus for Tweetdeck’s core fanbase who miss Facebook’s integration?

I’ve used Tweetdeck for my personal use for years, but never professionally. Professionally, myself, my company and coworkers have partnered with Hootsuite and use it in our daily work.

Tweetdeck is a completely free service and in my opinion adequately provides features that help users have a better Twitter experience in personal use. Hootsuite does offer a free option as well, but a lot of its premium features are only available at a cost. Free features are important to the personal, casual Twitter user.

I use Tweetdeck to monitor my personal Twitter account and things that I’m personally interested in. It’s inconvenient that they lost Facebook integration, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. I use Facebook and Twitter differently. I use the different platforms to connect with different audiences. I use Facebook primarily to connect with personal friends and family. I use Twitter to connect with my community, make professional connections, stay informed and join in on global conversations. I really only need dashboard features for Twitter to monitor my tweets, scheduled messages, new followers and people that engaging with me.

I love having my personal profiles and the professional accounts I manage on separate dashboards. It makes me feel more safe when I’m using Twitter personally and helps me ensure I’ll never post a personal message on a brand’s profile. I don’t miss out on the Tweetdeck app because the Twitter app’s been approved and adequately allows me to use my personal Twitter account on my mobile.

So, what do you think? Do you think Tweetdeck’s makeover is enough to reenergize its fan base and provide better functionality to its users?



How you can help Oklahomans

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Featured, OKC, Oklahoma, Our Clients | 2 comments

How you can help Oklahomans

By Stephanie Bice

The devastation in Oklahoma yesterday is almost unimaginable. I’ve lived through this before, and even wrote about it. Oklahoman’s are amazing people. Any time tragedy strikes, we rise up and take action. It’s a great feeling to know so many people have my back if the need calls.

Many of my readers ask: How can I help? Non perishable donations are always great, but oftentimes monetary donations can be used for the weeks and months to come when needed the most. Here’s a list of current organizations you can donate to:

(As of May 21st, 9am)

This is by no means a comprehensive list – but it’s a start. Have other organizations you want to see listed? Leave a comment.
Thank you friends.

All Hail the Power of Hashtags

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in social media, Twitter | 0 comments

Hashtag Pic
According to a new study by RadiumOne, 58% of social media users use hashtags on a regular basis. Of the study participants, 71% that admitted using hashtags were women and 44% were middle-aged. By this standard, hashtags are mainstream and one of the main ways people choose to quickly explore and share content.
RadiumOne Study Graphic

A hashtag is a word or a phrase following the # symbol without spaces. Hashtags were created by Chris Messina, now a Google employee, on Twitter in August 2007. Chris was searching for a way to group conversations with his followers on Twitter. Today, Twitter and other social media platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest, have fully integrated the hashtag and it’s the easiest way to search for and find out what Twitter users are currently talking about.

While the hashtag feature has been a driving force behind Twitter’s popularity, it’s also been the cause of a $50 million lawsuit against Twitter. In October 2012, a French court ordered Twitter to reveal specific online users tweeting anti-Semitic hashtags and the social media giant refused. Following the refusal, the Union of Jewish French Students filed the $50 million lawsuit on March 20. There are French laws forbidding hate speech in any forum. Twitter contends that it’s an American based company abiding by American laws and policies.

Hashtags have the power to put posts in front of the people who will care about them.  When utilized and circulated corrected, hashtags can be a powerful force in the community. The hashtag’s true power is its ability to direct millions of eyes to one conversation. Then, allow people to interact with the conversation and spread it even further.

In March, an Oklahoma City family used Twitter and a hashtag to rally community support behind an 18-year-old cancer patient denied life saving treatment by her insurance company. The hashtag #ApproveLorelei went viral in the community and was tweeted out hundred of times by Oklahoma residents. This event compelled the insurance company to reverse their decision within 24 hours.

Recently, Facebook announced plans to possibly integrate the hashtag into its social universe. Facebook already allows users to tag themselves with people at specific places, but public posts aren’t currently indexed by keyword the way the hashtag does. Hashtags could even be searchable with Graph Search.

Brands are starting to take hashtags more seriously and integrate them into their social media strategy. More businesses need to get on board. In the study by RadiumOne, 43% of respondents use hashtags to search/follow categories and brands of personal interest. During the Super Bowl, Hyundai implemented a hashtag campaign to drive social media traffic to a video advertisement. Of those visitors, 70% of the consumers that clicked on the ad viewed the full video.

To be effective, hashtags have to simply reflect your existing branding. They have to be easily memorable and integrated into marketing material. People need to know the specific phrasing to include in a post. If the hashtag isn’t phrased or spelled correctly, it won’t be added to the larger conversation. Use your hashtag as an opportunity to make statement or bring some appropriate levity to a campaign or an event. Allow your supporters or customers to spread your messages to all of their followers.

Social Influencers: An Undervalued Resource for Advertisers

Posted by on Mar 28, 2013 in Content, social media, the internet is great | 1 comment

Connecting with your audience has evolved so much over the past decade. When the right people promote posts and they go viral, they can circulate across the world in minutes. Advertisers are still struggling to invest in word of mouth advertising and harness the power of influential community members.

With digital marketing budgets on the rise, it’s more important than ever to use every resource to reach as many people as possible.

Compliments of MBA in Marketing, a new info graphic may provide the insight advertisers need to finally get onboard with social influencers. This info graphic shows how social media influencers impact purchasing behaviors amongst peers.


Facebook Announces News Feed Redesign

Posted by on Mar 7, 2013 in Facebook, Marketing, Presentations, Small Business, SmallBiz, social media | 0 comments


News Feed Redesign

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, when Facebook first started, the news feed was filled with mostly text and now it’s nearly 50% photos and visual content.

Today reporters and social media fans around the world got a glimpse of Facebook’s updated news feed design at a press conference at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The new design has bigger images and places more emphasis on visual content, which is what Facebook thinks users want their profiles to center around.

Limited rollout starts on the web today. Users can join a wait list here and could be selected to try the changes before they’re launched for the masses. A broader audience may see the changes in the next few weeks.

A Personalized Newspaper

Zuckerberg described the new design as a personal newspaper. Users will now have a Photos Feed showing every single photo friends are posting in chronological order. Another feed addition is the Following Feed. On the Following Feed users will see all the posts from pages and public figures they like on Facebook in chronological order. Local businesses, large brands and celebrities will be included on this feed.

Links will change to make articles and attachments more prominent and noticeable on profiles. Publishers logos will be visibly included on posted links. When someone become friends with someone else, the new design will show a bigger profile photo and show the friends users have in common included on their feed.

Site navigation will change in this redesign. Calling it Global Navigation, they’ll allow users to go through one page to another without having to go back to the homepage. Also, users can choose the feed they want to view from a drop down switcher menu at the top of the page.

Goodbye Clutter

Facebook product design manager Julie Zhou emphasized the need to rid the news feed of clutter. Depending on the things and pages you’ve liked on Facebook in the past, they want to show you trending articles that are most relevant to you.

Zuckerberg told reporters in a Q&A session after the presentation, “I think it’s almost 60 percent of people who use Facebook come back every day.” Facebook wants to build on these stellar numbers because the result is more monetary value for the company.

Mobile Consistency

Another big focus of the presentation was mobile consistency. The company is finally combating that users want Facebook to look and feel the same on every format: PC, tablet and mobile. It’s important for Facebook designers to provide a platform that publishers and brands can know how their content will look across all screens.

Tablet and phone navigation won’t change much, but instead the desktop version was designed with mobile in mind. Facebook knows the numbers. Web traffic is moving to mobile. Mobile traffic is predicted to beat desktop traffic in a few years. This design seems to have been created with that prediction in mind.

The Questions and Concerns

Quite a few questions remain after this announcement.

What about Edgerank?  Edgerank is the ranking algorithm Facebook used to determine what updates users would see in the past. Facebook said they aren’t changing anything about the ranking algorithm. From the presentation, the new feeds will feature posts in chronological order. So, at this point there’s a disconnect.

How will the new design impact ads? Zhou said the redesign will make ads richer like everything else. There has to be a monetary incentive  to this redesign. The new news feed will allow for larger, more visual brand advertsing that companies should enjoy. Also, users should be able to see all your brand’s updates in the Following Feed, if they choose to look at it… I’m concerned this change could negatively impact how brand’s interact with customers on Facebook, but we’ll only know for sure after we can experiment with it ourselves.

Check back with Smirk in the coming weeks for more information on how Facebook’s news feed redesign might impact how your brand reaches its audience.


Social media shakeups: Changes hit Facebook, Tumblr grows, Google+ goes on…

Posted by on Mar 6, 2013 in Facebook, Google Plus, Google+, LinkedIn, social media, Twitter, Uncategorized, YouTube | 0 comments

There were some interesting developments and milestones reached in social media this week.

Facebook is expected to announce plans to change its large, single column news feed. This would be the first major change to the news feed design in seven years. Rumor has it Facebook will expand to multiple feeds and feature some sort of Instagram and Spotify integration. The new design could feature a feed for photo, music, and another feed featuring only news, videos and app sharing.

We’ll know more about this development tomorrow after Facebook’s big planned press event. Stay tuned for more information. One billion is the magic number this week.

LinkedIn reached one billion Endorsements this week.

The feature was launched in September 2012. Users can vouch for other user’s specific skills with only the click of a button. It was created to encourage more profile interaction and it’s accomplished that. However, it remains to be determined if these quick Endorsements have any positive impact on your digital professional presence. Personally, I’m not convinced a classmate vouching for your public speaking skills, without a formal recommendation, will result in your speedy employment.

Sesame Street became the first nonprofit and US children’s company YouTube channel to reach one billion views.

Sesame Street’s latest video starring Count von Count, posted today, is titled “Counting the ‘You’s in YouTube.” One of the channel’s most popular videos, “Elmo’s Song,” has over 87 million views. YouTube is frequently banned in school environments, but this milestone makes a significant statement about YouTube’s educational possibilities.

Twitter announced it will discontinue its mobile apps, discontinue Facebook integration in May and focus more on its web-based version.

The Twitter-owned TweetDeck will be removed from app stores by early May and will stop functioning shortly after that. TweetDeck’s team say the decision reflects where the majority of their users are using their product. Recently, Twitter’s mobile app added major features including photo filters, revamped user profiles and an advanced search. TweetDeck’s features fill some users needs and if the mobile app isn’t cutting it, why not redesign for better functionality? Instead, Twitter’s content to forfeit those users who will either go to their Twitter app or one of their competitors. Tumblr mobile users will see ads soon.

Companies will be able to promote their posts to mobile app users within the next three months. The ads will mirror ones added to the website format months ago. Users and advertisers can promote content for as little as $1 a post.

Tumblr’s mobile users have quadrupled in the past six months and are closely approaching the amount of users on its website. Tumblr has a monthly audience of more than 170 million. With this new development, Tumblr hopes to turn its first annual profit in 2013.

Google+ launched a redesign of profiles and pages today in attempt to steal some of Facebook’s thunder. New feature include a “Local Reviews” tab, larger cover photos with a better aspect ratio and an easier way to edit information in the “About” tab. We’re expecting more features to be unveiled in coming weeks.

Stay tuned on this development. To summarize this week’s developments, social media continues its massive growth and platforms strive to stay relevant and exciting as they grow. What do you think about these developments? Do you think these redesigns are exciting or unneccessary?

Ultimate Social Media Graphic Size Guide

Posted by on Feb 15, 2013 in Content, Facebook, Featured, Google Plus, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Small Business, social media, Twitter, YouTube | 9 comments

Ultimate Social Media Graphic Size Guide

While working on a client project together, we reached out to our great friends at S Design Inc., suggesting their team tackle the Wild West world of social media graphic sizing.

There are a few social media icon sizing guides floating around the web, but nothing really definitive, that we can pass along to clients and friends who want to make sure their Facebook cover looks perfect and their YouTube icon is legible.

So here they are, social media graphic sizing templates for Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. Again, big thanks to S Design.

If you are interested in learning more about social media, branding and all aspects of marketing, considering joining S Design, Smirk New Media and other area experts at the M3: Marketing Minds Meet Conference, March 13 in Oklahoma City. Click here for more information and to register

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