“Foodies & Social Media: The Great Divide”

Dolores Montavez Ruz    March 5, 2015

Posted on March, 2015 by: Dolores Montavez & Christian Ismodes

Organization Name: Several Toronto Restaurants

Industry: Food and Beverage

Name of contact: varied (below)

Web References: varied (below)

Social Media Marketing is not for everyone in the restaurant business

Of all the social media applications to business processes and personal networking there is no doubt that marketing, advertising and sales are the sectors where social media is most commonly used. The food and beverage industry has been transformed by the social media phenomenon partly because of its “word of mouth” marketing tradition.  In the past, we trusted the word of a friend, but today, we trust the word of thousands of strangers.


When it comes to the restaurant business, the impact of social media marketing has produced a great divide between restaurants actively engaged with a social media strategy and those without it.

This new social media marketing world, with the most distinctive demographic divide ever, is flooded with an endless inventory of apps, tools, sector specific terms and technologies that are quite foreign to the average person and a source of wonder, or  despair, to those 45 and over involved in marketing activities.

The restaurant industry offers us great examples of how this demographic divide plays out.  On the one hand, there are eateries ripping the rewards of thousands of followers, elaborate menu photos, alluring videos, outstanding reviews in social sites and with dedicated staff time actively engaging social media savvy customers.

A few examples:

Guu Izakaya Toronto

Popularly known as Traditional Japanese Tapas, the restaurant chain was originally established in Vancouver (2000) and opened their two Toronto locations in 2008 and 2011. Their social media engagement measures 18,200 Twitter followers
and 36,106 visits to their Facebook page with 5,109 likes and 36,106 visits.

Pizzeria Libretto:

Pizzeria Libretto has three lively Toronto locations offering Real Neapolitan Pizza certified by the VPN (Assoziacione Verace Pizza Napolitana).  Chef Rocco represented Canada and won  3rd Best in the World at the 2013 International Pizza Challenge!  Their message of offering “simple, honest and natural” food has taken root in a city with thousand of pizza food chains and independent eateries. Prove of this is reflected in their Twitter account with 11.5K followers of which 1,516 have rated it as favourite.

The Senator:

The best of the old  and the new together. The self-proclaimed “oldest restaurant in Toronto,” founded in 1929 and open in its current location since 1948, mixes good management with a desire to keep up with marketing and social media technologies using the knowledge to their advantage. It has created a comprehensive, informative and attractive website with  links to their suppliers . The Senator doesn’t hold high numbers of followers in their Twitter account (534) but half of them rated it as favourite (228). Their Facebook account has 1,102 likes.  That’s probably because  they engage in community development sponsoring a series of annual events for community-based projects benefiting charities and marginalized social groups (giving back).  Obviously they know their customer group really well and cater to them

On the other side of the spectrum are restaurants not engaging in social media marketing, or claiming to have no time. An unfortunate approach.

On this side are the restaurants and cafe’s that are mostly, but not exclusively,  small eateries run by families,  well liked and respected by customers who are greeted by name and where long and trusting relationships have developed over time.  Many of these restaurant have had the same owner and while still prosperous, are facing an uncertain future unless they have a younger generation that can transition them to current marketing practices. These businesses stand with limited growth opportunities in  a consumer environment  driven by instant access, deal seeking, friends’ influence and a rapid exchange of information leading to choosing the place to eat that day.

In conclusion:

Restaurants can benefit from current social media marketing practices if they want to increase their reach, remain vital to current customers and attractive to new ones. Here are a few point to consider:

  • Social media is all about engagement, there has to be reciprocity between customers and businesses – multiple conversations where the experiences are shared.
  • Having a website with static data (including images) is not considered social media marketing. A static website is an online marketing tool providing data but falls short from being socially interactive. It’s best to have it than not, but without a conversation and exchange between people, there is nothing “social” about it.
  • Effective social media marketing plans for business in the food industry seem to follow the same patters from other industries. They would benefit from utilizing the sites and tools (Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Review sites, etc.) that best illustrate the nature and essence of their products and services.

And then of course, they would have to maintain those sites smoking hot with social media activity… and do so all the time!

Submitted by: Dolores Montavez and Christian Ismodes – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo.

To contact the author of this entry, please email at: montavez3@hotmail.com and Christian.ismodes@gmail.com

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your comments to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance pdcarr@uwaterloo.ca