Why every food business must be active on mobile in 2017 📲

Why every food business must be active on mobile in 2017 📲

Simple mobile or keyword advertising just doesn’t cut it any more, but don’t rush out to build an app

If you own or manage a coffee shop, restaurant or food truck you’ve seen it for yourself—the smartphone is now a vital part of most consumers’ lives.

According to Yahoo’s Flurry analytics, 89% of mobile time is spent on apps and browsing, rather than calls and texting. In addition, mobile app usage is growing at a massive 69%.

Source:Simon Khalaf, SVP, Yahoo, January 12th, 2017

This phenomenal growth is in large part due to Social and Messaging apps, which grew by an astounding 394% over the last year. Mobile use is eclipsing desktop use too, as this graph shows:

Source:Smart Insights, April 2017

Bottom line: Smartphone usage, which has been playing an increasingly important role in consumers’ digital lives over the past several years, now accounts for almost three-quarters of all Americans’ time spent online.

The high usage of smartphone apps compared to other media touchpoints shouldn’t come as much of a shock when you think about your own daily online behavior. Chances are when you want to know what’s happening around the world, or in your friends’ lives, your first move is to reach into your pocket and open one of the social apps on your phone.

But what does an increase in mobile app usage mean for your business? Does that mean you should rush out and develop an app?

The short answer is a definite no, but the answer requires a bit of an explanation.

The single biggest reason I am convinced it makes no sense for a small to medium business to build their own app—despite the rapid rise of app usage—is because you’d have to convince a user to download yet another app. The competition for space on a smart phone is just too high. Facebook already owns the consumer’s attention. Trying to steal some of that attention away simply doesn’t make sense.

But what if you could engage with your customers directly within Facebook?

I’m not talking about getting likes and posting updates to a Facebook page. If you’ve tried that before, you know how ineffective this approach is.

I’m talking instead about letting customers ‘choose their own adventure’ with your content. Instead of posting content that goes into a ‘newsfeed river,’ what if it were possible to give your customers just what they want and only when they want it? What if they could inquire about your opening times, ask what specials are on today and interactively navigate your menu — all without leaving Facebook? And what if they could do this in an engaging, conversational tone, as if they were chatting with one of their Facebook friends?

Turns out, this is all already possible in Facebook Messenger.

Who else is using chatbots in 2017?

1. Taco Bell

The soon-to-be-released TacoBot already allows a handful of companies to order tacos using Slack, a messaging app.

Phat Thai’s interactive chatbot in Messenger

2. Wingstop

In November 2016 Wingstop went live with a chatbot on Facebook Messenger and Twitter. Using platforms that already have high levels of engagement seemed like a smarter bet than banking on every customer to download the Wingstop app on his or her already-crowded phones.

3. Domino’s

In December 2016, Domino’s launched a service to allow customers to place and track orders using voice commands through Google Home. The process is similar to how a consumer would set-up an order from Amazon Echo.

4. Pizza Hut

Also in December, Pizza Hut allowed customers to place carryout and delivery orders using voice commands via Amazon’s Alexa.

5. Chipotle

Chipotle announced in February 2017 that its restaurants will begin using a new “Smarter Pickup Times” system to fulfill online orders, allowing the restaurant to automatically set pickup times based on their current demand.

Brands choose chatbots because they cost far less than call centers. In addition, their conversational engagement lends itself to a simplified path to ordering.

Clearly chatbots are going to become the future of ordering, but what about more standard use of social media. Are there any brands who have achieved dominance using social media? And should you be concerend at all about Facebook?

Visually, here’s why you absolutely must be on Facebook:

Source:MarketingProfs, October 2016

Facebook dominates mobile app usage, and here are a few brands dominating Facebook engagement:

The takeaway?

If you’re not on mobile and don’t have a social media presence in 2017, your food business runs the risk of disappearing into the noise. With more than 200 million posts tagged #food and 23 million with #drinks, food and beverage photos are easily some of the most popular types of content on social media. It’s very likely that your customers are posting with or without your interaction.

When 88% of people are influenced by reviews and online comments, having an intentional digital strategy is important to your restaurant or bar.

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