Thursday, November 17, 2011

QR Codes 101

Dronkers is happy to continue its partnership with VIBE! Please find our second guest post in its newsletter, a variation of our first original article on QR codes, below: 

While everyone wants to know how to use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube to better their online marketing strategies, in our work, the conversation inevitably turns to quick-response (QR) codes: What are they, and how should they be used?

Take a look at how two national restaurant chains deploy QR codes to promote their businesses.

• T.G.I. Friday’s uses QR codes on the backs of its children’s menus to engage guests and bring them to the company's Facebook page, which now boasts 740,000+ fans.
• An Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar franchisee used QR codes on table tents to help promote the 14-minute lunchtime guarantee, resulting in 43,000 scans and a website traffic increase of 9.8% during lunchtime periods.

Furthermore, a June study from Internet marketing research company comScore estimated that 14 million people (6.2%) of the total U.S. mobile audience scanned a QR code that month, revealing that QR codes are, in fact, being used by mass groups of consumers.

Given such potential to drive marketing and growth, why have QR codes remained a relatively niche marketing tool? Of the casual dining chain restaurants we surveyed, less than 5% had attempted to use QR codes, although 100% exhibited some type of Facebook and Twitter activity.

A lingering lack of education and prevailing misconceptions about the benefits and uses of QR codes at the consumer and operator level may provide the answer to that question. So, let’s demystify QR codes, alleviate skepticism and confusion, and explain how QR codes can work for your establishment. Even if QR codes evolve into a different form down the road, understanding their potential now will put you ahead of your competition.

Basics: QR Codes 101

• QR codes are similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at the point of sale. The key difference between the two is the amount of data they can hold or share.
• Bar codes are linear one-dimensional codes and can only hold up to 20 numerical digits, whereas QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) matrix codes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information.
• When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled smartphone, you can link to digital content on the web.

Getting Started With QR Codes

Before creating your QR code, define an objective you want to achieve. Do you wish to promote an event, offer customers digital coupons, link to your website or provide the public with an informational resource?

Decide what you would like to link to and how you will distribute the QR code. Some popular modalities of sharing QR codes include: print advertisements in newspapers and magazines, public transportation posters, business cards, pamphlets and menus. Clearly identifying these goals before creating your QR code will help to ensure the success of your campaign.

Creating Your QR Code in 5 Easy Steps
You can download a free QR code generator online in just a few minutes:

1. This one by Kaywa is a popular choice, while websites like allow you to manipulate color schemes for a more attractive image.
2. Download and print your code.
3. Download a free QR code reader (we like Kaywa, which gives users step-by-step instructions) onto your smartphone.
4. Test your QR code with your QR code reader.
5. Apply your QR code to items of interest and share them with the public!

While it is still early for QR codes, they are steadily gaining ground among consumers and marketers alike and are moving closer to widespread adoption. Stay ahead of the trend by incorporating QR codes into your marketing strategy. In doing so, you will expose your business to a wider network of consumers.

If you want to receive a complimentary list of 10 effective QR Code promotions for your restaurant or bar, contact Dronkers Solutions at

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Post in VIBE Newsletter

We are excited to announce our feature in the VIBE newsletter and Nightclub & Bar Editor's Blog! Please find a reproduction of our article on effective Facebook posts below:

Six Steps to Effective Facebook Posts

According to Facebook, more than 1 billion pieces of content are shared on the social networking site each day! This presents a huge challenge in trying to get Facebook visitors to engage with your brand and your beverage program.

How have some restaurant companies figured out how to move from “broadcast” mode into “engagement”? How have they engaged people so well that their fans invite others along for the viral ride? You and your team may or may not be directly involved in social media marketing, however, it’s important to understand how to execute it properly so it reaps the greatest rewards – traffic and sales – for your drink program.
If you are like restaurant execs, you want to know:
• When should we post?
• How often should we post?
• What type of content to post?
• Should we get outside consultation?
Here are 6 ways that savvy Facebook marketers are using the medium to engage with their fans.
1. Ask for Feedback
Open-ended posts invite audience participation, which establishes relationships with Facebook visitors. News blasts and yes/no questions do not require much effort, but open-ended posts, such as “What should we name our new cocktail?” entail insight and provoke greater volumes of response. But open-ended posts aren’t just for growing the fan base; they also help maintain the fans you have by showing that you care about their opinions!
2. Strategically Time Your Posts
Here’s an overview of what days and time are more effective to post:
• Users are most active on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.
• Activity increases towards the middle of the week, while waning around the beginning and end, tapering to its lowest point on Sunday.
• Most people use social media in their free time before any all-day work and academic commitments.
• Do not be tempted into only posting during hours of heavy traffic; that tactic could alienate the fans of your brand by flooding their newsfeeds during these times of activity. We recommend a more balanced system where you spread out posts throughout the day and schedule the most important messages in the mornings and evenings.
• People who frequent happy hours most days of the week generally access their computers later than those who return straight home. Therefore, you may want to consider posting your most valued messages even later than 8 p.m. to reach this target audience.
3. Keep the posts concise
Posts that are 80 characters or less have 27% higher engagement rates. Remember that users are very selective when scrolling up and down their feed. A short message is much easier to decode.
4. Think twice about using URL shorteners
Engagement is, in general, three times higher for posts that use a full-length URL. Users like to know where they are directed before they click on a link.
5. Fans follow instructions well
If you want your fans to like or comment…ask them! Encourage fans to take action and do something. Be direct, short and concrete rather than ambiguous or subtle.
6. Ask questions
Posts that end with a question have 15% higher engagement rates. If you want your fans to answer questions only ask one question and do it in the end of the update.
If your company has neither the time nor resources to effectively post on Facebook or manage social media platforms, or if you wish to see the fastest gains, it may be easier to contract an outside expert. Make sure this expert possesses an in-depth knowledge of your business and refers the right social media platforms to produce the greatest returns.
Many thanks to our readers and friends at VIBE for this great opportunity! As always, please contact us with any questions and comments. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to Execute a Successful Facebook Promotion

If you read our last blog post, then you know how to legally advertise your company’s beverage on Facebook. It is equally important to understand the ways in which you may market your product or service through promotions. Facebook maintains a strictand complex policy on these operations, so we will explain the two trickier aspects of its official guidelines below.

Invest in a Third-Party Application

Facebook’s first rule states that promotions “must be administered within Apps on” Unless you are a web developer, it will almost certainly cheaper and easier to use a third-party application such as Wildfire, Strutta, Involver, Vitrue, or OfferPop. These tools, although not free, will help you to easily set up a successful Facebook promotions campaign.

Be Cautious when Including Facebook Features in Your Promotion

According to official guidelines, businesses should not enable entry into promotions through the sole use of Facebook features and functionalities. This means that businesses cannot automatically register individuals for contests when they like or submit a photo to a Page. However, companies maylegally make the liking of a Page a partial component to entering a promotion. Why? Users must be able to view and accept the full terms and conditions of a promotion before participating in it. This goes back to our previous point about investing in third-party applications, which will direct individuals off of Facebook (e.g. to the company’s official site) where they can legally view and accept the official terms and conditions of the promotion.

It is not enough to merely provide exposure for your company in today’s social media-driven society. Brands must creatively interact with consumers in order to effectively market their products and services. As one of many ways to accomplish this task, promotions are imperative to conducting successful marketing campaigns for businesses in the food, beverage, and restaurant industry. We will continue to elaborate upon other tools and strategies in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, please tell us what you would like to learn more below.

Legally Advertising Your Beverage on Facebook

How can a brand legally promote alcohol on Facebook? Given Facebook’s pervasiveness across all age demographics, social media promotions have become a necessary component to traditional advertising campaigns. Are you familiar with Facebook’s official rules governing alcohol advertisement? Here is a breakdown below.

Target your regions individually. Different areas possess different laws regarding the promotion of alcohol. Familiarize yourself with the rules and restrictions of each locality in question before creating an advertisement to run.

Convey the age and nationality of your target audience through your advertisement. Ads may only be displayed to users whose age and country can be determined. 

Be transparent. Advertisements should never include content intended to appeal to individuals who are underage, pregnant, or nursing. Ads should never convey dishonest or misleading messages about alcoholic beverages, portray people consuming them with abandon, or reference intoxication. 

Associations between alcoholic consumption and achievement/ positive benefits of any kind should be avoided along with references to driving and violent, dangerous, and/or antisocial behavior. 

Include a disclaimer. Facebook recommends that ‘all alcohol ads contain text that promotes drinking responsibly (for example “Drink Responsibly,” “Drink Smart” or other similar text customarily used in the targeted market).’ For a more complete list of rules, read through Facebook's Rules regarding alcohol advertisement.

In summary, many of the rules governing the advertisement of alcohol on print and television also apply on Facebook. Yet given the plastic and evolving nature of social media, it is always a good idea to thoroughly research these guidelines, especially with regard to target audiences, for currency and legality before creating an ad campaign to run on Facebook.

This month, we discussed how to legally advertise alcohol on Facebook. In our next post, we will outline ways to run legal promotions for your alcoholic beverage.

Geolocation Applications for Restaurants and Bars

Even if you currently use Facebook and Twitter, social media technologies are evolving every day. Have you heard your guest say they “checked-in” to your venue? Chances are many of your guests have checked in a number of times and left tips for other visitors using geolocation apps.

The following will help you understand “geolocation apps” and what 5 steps you can take to engage guests, increase business and beat the competition.

Introduction to Geolocation Apps

Geolocation apps allow people to find places to eat, drink, track and communicate with friends and seek special offers or rewards. Essentially they download any number of geolocation apps to their smartphone. The app uses the phone’s GPS coordinates to find what’s nearby.

They now have the ability to “check-in” to that given location, find what specials or deals are offered, read helpful tips from people, and accumulate points/badges. They can also check surrounding competitors and decide which location has the “best deal.”

As a business owner you can use this free technology to boost your business, but first you must “claim your venue.”

5 Steps to Claiming Your Venue (Let’s use our favorite: Foursquare)

Go to Foursquare for Business 

Click on Venue Owner 

Click on Search & Claim Your Venue 

You can attract new customers or reward your most loyal ones by offering specials which are presented to users when they check in. 

By claiming your venue, you will gain access to the business dashboard where you can manage statistics on recent visitors 

Example Promotions:

First time here? Take 25% off any item in the store. 

Free soft drink with meal for each guest that checks in. 

Every 3rd check in gets you a free appetizer with purchase of entrée.

Come with 4 friends and unlock a round of buffalo wings or cheese fries. 

First 10 people here for dinner get a free side dish or dessert with purchase of entrée. 

The mayor get's an item on the menu named after him/her if they remain mayor for a full month.

Geolocation apps like foursquare provide a free set of tools to help you attract new customer and keep your best ones coming back. Best of all it's free, so what are you waiting for!?

Future of Geo Location Apps & Geo Fencing

AT&T and Loopt have recently announced a function that allows the companies to push you a text message if you are near a venue with a deal. Imagine, being within 25 feet from a restaurant and you get a text “Since you are so close stop in for a free appetizer with purchase of entrée.”

Are you currently using geolocation apps? Tell us what you have done and the pros and cons. This was written by Dronkers Solutions, like us on Facebook!