Twitter clutter

This social media fad may go too far for some.

Social media and how to use it is quickly becoming one of the hottest topics in non-commercial foodservice. I will be presenting a talk on the subject at the upcoming HFM conference in Indian Wells, Calif., and SFM has Michael Atkinson, founder of foodservice social media site FohBoh, on the program at its national conference next month in San Francisco.

In doing research for my HFM presentation, I have learned much more than I ever wanted to about how social media can be used. In many people’s minds, there is much value in using applications such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as marketing tools. However, other people see these things as mere toys, playthings for the self-absorbed, and you can’t really blame them.

Twitter is an excellent example of the ambiguous nature of social media. I have talked with operators, particularly in the college and university market, who see Twitter has an excellent way of promoting foodservice to student customers. Short bursts of information about new menu items, special events and even nutrition guidelines can help to educate customers and put dining services in a more favorable light.

But then you pick up the newspaper and read about the ways some people—particularly celebrities—use this medium and you can’t help but wonder how it is perceived by the public at large.

There is the story about the woman who sent out tweets to her friends about, and apparently even during, a bank robbery to which she had been a witness.

American Idol judge Paula Abdul used Twitter to announce that she was leaving the popular reality show. Athletes like Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps love to tweet their status during competitions, and the number of followers they have suggests that people love to read their tweets.

Other people are not so happy about how Twitter is being used. In the sports world, several NFL teams have tried to restrict players, and even reporters and fans, from using Twitter while at training camp. Ostensibly, teams fear that some unscrupulous character might be tweeting secrets about the team to other teams’ coaches.

Or else they are just worried about bad publicity. Most recently, the San Diego Chargers fined one of its players, Antonio Cromartie, $2,500 for using Twitter to complain to his followers about the quality of the food in training camp.

So it’s easy to understand why the jury is still out on how valuable Twitter and other social media can be as marketing tools. But I would caution operators about rushing to judgment about social media. Like any new technology, there are growing pains associated with using social media.

But for better or worse, social media is the future of communication. Foodservice operators may find that ignoring it as a fad or a toy for narcissistic will be a strategy for failure. Approach with caution, but by all means give it a chance.

Keywords: 
social media

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Ideas and Innovation
coal creek student salad bar

When I was visiting Minneapolis Public Schools, I saw that they have these cool signs on top of their salad bars. As soon as we got back, we re-created them. They are big and branded, and have the portion requirements. They say “Taste something new today” on one side, and we support our local farmers on the other. They help the bars look fresh and delish, and attract students’ eyes.

Menu Development
chicken tetrazzini bowl

The No Whey station in the main dining hall at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., offers students meals that are free of the eight most common allergens. When Brittany Parham, the dietitian who oversees the station, polled food-sensitive students on which favorites they missed most, “comfort foods” was the overwhelming response. Parham, who herself has food allergies, worked with chefs on the 20,000-student campus to focus on allergen-free versions of pasta bakes, biscuits, banana bread and other down-home dishes. Recently, the chefs reworked the school’s traditional chicken...

Ideas and Innovation
university chicago medical center renovation workers

As The University of Chicago Medical Center prepared for the revamp of one of its kitchens to feed an additional 202 patients, it wasn’t just foodservice executives coming to the table to make decisions. The process, which began in fall 2014, involved hourly employees from the ground up, says Daryl Wilkerson, vice president of support services. “They actually helped build this [kitchen], which is why I think this is so spectacular,” he says. “Normally what you’ll get in a lot of projects is senior people sitting around in shirts and ties making decisions.”

The hospital follows the...

FSD Resources