Instagram Foodies Are Welcomed for Restaurants to Go Viral

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[Comodo NYC’s Instagram Menu]

In late 2012, a new restaurant was opened in Soho, NYC, the US and they came up with a trendy digital marketing strategy, which effectively used the characteristics of hashtags and SNS users who like sharing their experiences. The restaurant introduced a hashtag on the menu – called #ComodoMenu – which Instagram users, especially those known as ‘foodies’, could use for their ‘foodstagramming’. Everyone who typed the hashtag could see the tagged photos and share theirs with other users.

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[http://instagram-menu-comodo.com/]

As a start-up business, marketing could have been one of the trickiest things to do efficiently and effectively, but Comodo NYC amazingly fulfilled the two challenging issues on marketing, with almost the zero cost. This was a good example of viral marketing. The restaurant simply opened a platform for customers to play in, and visitors were happy to join this easy and fun digital playground.

Thanks to helps from #foodies on Instagram like this case, restaurants do not need to feel pressure to include visual descriptions on every dish they offer, which could have sometimes made the menu look messy let alone costly. Customers also benefit from this marketing, by being able to look at the actual photos of the meals and thoughts or feeling as for the dishes from previous visitors, before they decide to order anything or even visit the place.

However, there are two possible variables in this marketing: consistency and filters to prevent irrelevant information, malicious approaches from competitors, and overlapping strategies. As of 9th November 2014, the hashtag ‘#comodomenu’ on Instagram was used in 2,045 posts. Considering the fact that the buzz started two years ago, it might have not lasted strongly since then. This specific example is not a type of marketing that works the best when it rises quickly and disappears after a short period of time as soon as it draws big attentions. It is perfectly fine or even better when it becomes steady, and this is where the difficult issue comes up in marketing. Compared to other marketing methods, this case was relatively instant and easy to execute. Turning a fad into a long-term trend, however, is tricky unless operators continuously encourage customers.

Linking to the first point, the thing that there is no specific filter on Instagram platforms can cause problems as well. Anyone who just adds #comodomenu in their posts can join the platform on Instagram. Based on how viral the marketing was according to the creative agency, it is easier than anything else for users (and this includes competitors too!) to use the hashtag to pull other Instagram users to their accounts and photos/videos hoping to have more ‘hearts’, even if the posts are not actually Comodo NYC’s menu. This allows competitors to mess up Comodo NYC’s menu too. Another potential resulting from no filtration is that multiple businesses can use the same hashtag. Apparently at the moment this same hashtag seems to be used in restaurants in Madrid, Spain, which means not all the 2,045 posts so far are about the restaurant in Soho in the US. Combined with the these variables, the original marketing will no longer attract visitors and they will not be bothered.

Creating marketing buzz using social media is certainly a big opportunity in businesses, especially for SMEs in that even those who do not have enormous budgets can relatively easily perform social media marketing. Still, it raises some considerations for businesses to think about, before and after any marketing idea is practised.

Can the ‘Happiness Blanket’ Tell Enough about How Satisfied Customers Are with British Airways?

(British Airways – Happiness Blanket)

This summer British Airways (BA) conducted a new way to measure their customers’ experiences during the flight, adopting a creative technology. They distributed the so-called ‘Happiness Blanket’ to passengers with matching head gear, which sensed electrical changes in the passengers’ neurons depending on various situations: when the flight was taking off and landing in, and when the passengers were sleeping, eating meals, and watching BA’s entertainment programmes. When the passengers felt nervous the hairbands noticed it and sent signals to the blankets, which then changed the colour of the blankets into red. In opposite situations, when the customers were relaxed and happy the colour turned into purple-ish blue.

Although it is a novel idea to evaluate customers’ experiences, it seems it is, yet, rather early to officially adopt the technology. The fact that customers have to wear the band around their heads all the time can be a little bit off-putting and the bright light on the blankets can also affect customers’ neural status, for example when they try to sleep in dark. This can influence on the precise measurement as a variable.

Another limitation about ‘Happiness Blanket’ is the results from this fancy and rather extravagant experiment sound too general. All the presented findings do not necessarily require the technologically advanced evidence; it is a common sense that people feel happier when watching light and entertaining movies or having meals, as they become relaxed without high level of stress factors. On the other hand, people feel anxious when watching scary or heavy-themed movies or when flights are taking off and landing in the ground. These situations have already been supported by ample psychological studies, and as one can easily imagine would be the case.

The final possible negative point is that the results cannot be directly compared with the other competitors’ analyses, unless the competitors also bring in this new tool. It might not be a huge issue in that British Airways can still tinker with the findings to improve their service quality. However, this will not enable them to describe how superior their service is to those of the other competitors, or to notice what their relative disadvantages are.

Nevertheless, this new technology contains a bright potential in that it has given the industry an innovative method to measure the level of customer experiences. Once the technology becomes more developed the depth of data collection will be improved, which will allow more creative and insightful marketing strategies.

This inspiring device can also visually and quite accurately explain – via the colour spectrum – the subjective definition of ‘comfortableness’ when it comes to how comfortable each passenger is, where lingual descriptions have limitations. Normal customer satisfaction surveys cannot distinguish if the same answer of ‘very satisfied’ between  a given passenger A and the B would actually mean the same level of satisfaction, because these they might not have the same level of ‘satisfactory point’. In contrast, the colour spectrum on the blankets can differentiate the subtle differences among the passengers’ status. This can also present from which point their comfortable moments start and how long they last. With these in mind, someday in the future British Airways will be able to offer truly superior qualities in their services to customers.

You can find the information on British Airways’ website: https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/offers/partners/happiness-blanket?DM1_Mkt=GLOBAL&DM1_Channel=SOCIAL&DM1_Campaign=UKQ3JULYHAPPINESSBLANKET&DM1_Site=YOUTUBE&utm_source=YOUTUBE&utm_medium=SOCIAL&utm_campaign=UKQ3JULYHAPPINESSBLANKET