Social Media Marketing Example #15, OpenTable
Since so many of our followers enjoy the 26 Social Media Marketing Examples that was started by our very own Lisa Braziel and later joined by Anne Brannon, who recently wrote Social Media Marketing Example #13: Miller Brewing Company, I thought I’d jump in and help keep the examples going.
In this example, I will cover the online reservation site OpenTable where you can find restaurants, make reservations and receive confirmation online in a matter of seconds.
At first glance I was not impressed with the Web site in the least, but one mention of the name and my colleague, Brian Friedlander, yelled out “I LOVE that site!” So I decided there must be much more to this and thought I’d further investigate. Since Brian was so enthusiastic about the site, I was curious as to why he loved the site so much so I asked. Apparently, one of the Top 50 U.S. Restaurants, The French Laundry,is a location that takes reservations only two months in advance (no more than, no less) and getting a reservation via phone is nearly impossible as you’ll consistently hear only a busy signal coming from their line. But thanks to OpenTable’s online reservation element, he was able to skip the busy signal and book a reservation at The French Laundry, via OpenTable.com, with ease.
My initial reaction to the site was that it appears to be a simple directory with minimum detail, in other words….BORING. But by digging just a bit deeper, I soon understood why it’s “the world’s most popular website for restaurant reservations.”
The site provides Dining Rewards for members. Dining Rewards can be redeemed for “dining cheques” which are essentially gift certificates that can be used at any OpenTable restaurant. Members earn dining points by simply creating reservations online and keeping those reservations.
OpenTable also expands user ratings and reviews across the site and, unlike other review sites, they know when people have actually dined at a restaurant and they automatically solicit reviews with an email.
I’m very impressed with OpenTable’s interaction with its 720 Facebook fans. OpenTable utilizes its fan page for posting discussion topics and for keeping fans up-to-date on upcoming food related events. However, what I’m most excited about is that they do not just post the topic and leave it, they actually respond to comments and try to create further interaction.
Finally, with Facebook connect, users can share their reviews and reservations with friends.
Dining Check is OpenTable’s blog. Tips, news, chef highlighting, awards, new site features and restaurant technology are just a few of the categories covered on Dining Check. OpenTable’s Chief Food Officer, Caroline Potter, posts on a near daily (sometimes multiple times a day) basis which ensures content on the blog is timely and consistent, all of which are very important elements to maintaining readership.
Caroline provides information absolutely relevant and interesting to her audience. While there is some content that’s more for their benefit (i.e. “salesy”) instead of their readers’ benefit like May 14th’s article, “The Upside to Dining Out in a Down Economy,” that can be over looked as the overall content is relevant, helpful and engaging.
OpenTable’s social media efforts don’t stop with the blog. Open Table is on Twitter as well and can be found at @opentable. I was pleasantly surprised to view OpenTable’s twitter account. They do a number of things with their Twitter account that I feel are most important, for example:
- They provide helpful news and dining tips.
- They actually listen to and reply to their followers (which may seem small, but is such a big deal). When followers tweet about an issue they have at OpenTable.com, OpenTable quickly responds and helps users resolve the issue.
- They are not “spammy” in the least. They have not followed thousands of twitterers in the hopes of simply being followed back. Take note of OpenTable’s following to follower ratio- with the number close to equal, it can be speculated that OpenTable has taken the time to consider whom they are and are not following.
iPhone App for Foodies
Ranked 5th on PC Magazine’s “10 iPhone Apps for Foodies” list, OpenTable’s iPhone app allows you to research restaurants near a location you’ve specified by available seating, price range and/or preferred cuisine. With this app you can find a restaurant, make a reservation, get directions and email details to a friend all from your iPhone.
This App is really cool because it saves time and stress. Rarely are people home long enough to sit in front of a computer to make reservations. For me, since I tend to pay my bills, make appointments, schedule reservations and make all my plans, in the car, driving to and from work and sometimes during my lunch breaks, having the ability to quickly make reservations by utilizing this iPhone App, fits right in with my lifestyle.
Have you utlized OpenTable.com and/or any of it's many elements (blog, iPhone App, Facebook fan page, etc...)? What did you like/not like about it?
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