New Burger Joint Offers Lessons in Social Media

By Jenna Lebel

We often highlight a variety of companies approaching social media in unique ways, however, most of the examples come from larger companies and bigger brands. Here is one example of how a local Manhattan burger joint is using social media in unique ways including crowdsourcing for menu development, marketing, entertainment and social change BEFORE it even opens its doors to the public.

An organic burger eatery in midtown Manhattan called 4food will open on July 6. Self described as a “socially networked quick service restaurant company,” they have elaborate plans to integrate social media into every aspect of their operation, some of which have already been implemented. These plans include:

  • A 240-square-foot monitor in the restaurant that will constantly stream Foursquare check-ins, tweets from Twitter, and restaurant information
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the restaurant to support social media use
  • Using iPads to place orders
  • A “tag wall” in front of the store where guests are encouraged to write “tweets” with a Magic Marker
  • Contests such as tagging their Facebook page to win an iPad and tweeting a picture in front of the “tag wall” for $20 gift cards
  • Leveraging social media for recruitment and hiring
  • Creating and promoting a social movement called “De-Junk NYC” where they encourage sharing of ideas for improving the city

4food sees so much value in social media that they are using it to crowdsource for menu development and marketing. The eatery is empowering their audience to invent and creatively name their own dishes using an online application. The application is pre-populated with the restaurant’s ingredient list and users can customize dishes which can result in millions of combinations. The combinations will then be tested and voted on with the best items making the menu. We’ve seen something similar from Dunkin’ Donuts in the Create Dunkin’s Next Donut contest, but the sheer genius here is in the reward. Every time a person orders an item invented by a customer, the creator of that item gets a 25 cent in-store credit. This is extremely effective because it gives the consumer a say in the development of the menu and will likely result in better menu items that appeal to the target consumer base. This strategy also creates a substantial amount of buzz for the restaurant. Users who create menu items will actively promote the restaurant and their creation because there is an incentive for them to do so, albeit a low-cost incentive. These consumers now have a stake in the success of not only their products but also in the restaurant and will willingly spread the word about it.

By implementing a number of social media tools and strategies, 4food has essentially unlocked a low-cost, effective way to generate word of mouth. Do you have any other examples of companies leveraging social media in similar ways? Share them in the comments section below!