Is it time to add Social Media to the menu?

This is a repost of a popular blog I first published back in early 2013.  Many of the points are still relevant so I thought it was worth a second airing.

Menu design is a tricky business.  To some, the menu is a sacrosanct space that must be devoted to displaying food and drink and not a single thing more.  The argument goes that anything that interferes with the customer decision making process must be removed.   This is a point of view I certainly recognise and respect.  However, as a social media advocate I also see the menu as prime real estate when it comes to promoting Facebook and Twitter channels to the customer. 

According to a survey published by PC World & Curry’s last year, 65% of customers with smartphones now check their social media updates whilst they’re at the restaurant.  The most common activities are checking in, posting status updates and uploading photos.  This number does not surprise me one jot.  When you look around you in restaurants, all too often people will automatically turn to their mobiles when waiting for friends to arrive or will turn to their phone when they want to while a few minutes away whilst their companion dashes off to the loo.   

This statistic made me wonder if restaurants are now taking advantage of this customer behaviour and promoting their social media channels somewhere on their menus.   As a test I downloaded 13 menus from some of the UK’s best known restaurant chains to see if social media was now making an appearance.

The results proved very interesting.  Brands who invest heavily in social media such as YoSushi, Giraffe, Leon, Wahaca and Ping Pong all promote their channels on menu.   The best examples from YoSushi and Wahaca include a strong call to action, and in the case of Wahaca, they use a branded QR code that can be scanned to jump you straight to the Facebook page.  Leon included their Facebook and Twitter account details in a more subtle manner at the bottom of the menu in the small print.  Interestingly, Leon also include Twitter account details for two of the company founders, Henry Dimbleby (@Henry_Leon) and John Vincent (@JohnV_Leon).  Henry seems to have taken the Twitter challenge with full  vigour and he now has around 10k followers in his own right, about 7,000 more than his own brand!   

The rest, I’m afraid to say, have not taken hold of the opportunity.  My belief is your social media channels need promoting, especially at that point when your customer has a phone and some spare minutes on their hands. It doesn’t need to be brash, but it does need a mention.  So why not add Social to your menu and win more chances to engage with your customer online.