A new year is upon us
…and with it comes the usual looking back on the year we’ve left, digesting and learning from our efforts, and planning ahead for the new year.
The pace of development in digital marketing shows no signs of slowing down and the opportunity it offers to reach new customers and build relationships with existing ones is significant. It is simply how many of us conduct most of our communication these days and as such, it should be a key consideration for any hospitality business’s marketing strategy. Here are some of the topics that have been on my mind as we define our approach for 2024.
The people vs tech
The world of foodservice is traditionally all about the people and so our task is to use digital tools to enhance our customers’ experiences of a partnership with us, not to replace the personal interaction.
The ways in which we communicate nowadays may be hugely tech-led and, in the B2B space where customers are often made up of buying groups rather than individual decision-makers, the digital landscape provides great tools to tailor the communication process but it also adds complexity – how do you reach the right audiences with the right messages, how do you push up conversion rates with the most effective calls to action and so on…
According to GWI, the average daily time we spend online finally seems to have stagnated at just under 7 hours*. With this no longer in growth, the fight is now on to get the attention of users in the time they are online and, somewhat ironically, the best way we’ve found to this is by showcasing our brilliant teams.
One thing social media in particular allows us to do is invite our followers behind the scenes of Bidfood to experience our great culture and meet the many people who work hard day in, day out to deliver the best experiences for our customers, both off and online.
Charlotte, our Social Media Manager, recently offered up some inspiration for chefs who are keen to do more with social media – if you missed it, you can find it here: From plate to post – how chefs can rock social media.
AI has come out of hiding and into the spotlight
Undoubtedly, the biggest topic of conversation of 2023 has been the move of AI from being some mysterious ‘under the hood’ machine learning to a fully embraced content production tool – blogs, emails, web pages, social media posts and visuals – most marketers will have dabbled at least.
Beyond the immediate amazement at these widely accessible tools, the fascination for me is how this will affect search – will Google retain its market leading position, or will the many other tools like ChatGPT, Insta and TikTok and, of course, the tech-giant that is Amazon, offer them increasing competition? The search landscape will be an interesting one to stay close to and AI a topic for conversation that will continue long into the new year.
If you are keen to do more with search to help your business being found easily on Google, check out this blog from our Senior Web Content Exec, Max, originally written for pubs but with loads of ideas applicable to all hospitality businesses: The ultimate website SEO guide for pubs – unlocking success.
If your brand becomes a verb, don’t mess with it!
Couldn’t not mention Twitter. No, wait – X (formerly known as Twitter)! Although I personally have point blank refused to be dragged into the new era for this particular platform, we certainly have all been talking about it.
The jury is out on whether existing users will continue to engage with the platform, or indeed whether younger social media followers will sign up at all, and the platform is paying the price for all the controversy through a significant drop in paid advertising (which is the thing that allows the rest of us to use it for free!). I may be eating humble pie this time next year but as far as rebrands go, for me, this takes the prize for misguided decisions.
TikTok on the other hand has proven worth our time. A very different style of platform, your engagement is not defined by your followers but rather by how good you are at entertaining or ‘edu-taining’ – a skill our chef team have turned into a fine art over recent years! Short clips on your phone are fine – in fact, anything too polished is unlikely to pique people’s interest; aim instead for light-hearted, authentic and informative – with a healthy sprinkling of humour – such as this clip which became our most viewed post of 2023:
Fran, our Senior Digital Marketing Content Exec, who was behind the camera for the post, advises:
“Getting lots of views on TikTok isn’t easy, but what users want to see is simple. Entertaining, educational and relatable content… showcasing people! With attention spans swiftly dwindling, make sure you grab attention in the first 3 seconds. Narrow in and double down on what you find is working well for you, spark conversation, and have fun! Stick to this and you will find your views will start to climb.”
Spend your time wisely
There are many any other topics worthy of a mention; data – how do we avoid being overwhelmed and using data to aid (not single-handedly inform) decision-making, accessibility – are we being inclusive along our digital journey etc. But much like with money, you can only spend time once!
The digital marketing space is never a dull one; it moves at the rate of knots and to deliver your digital marketing strategy, you must master the art of ignoring shiny new objects, unless they are aligned with your business or team’s key objectives – otherwise, you can easily lose precious time responding to (or unsubscribing from!) ‘cold call’ emails with pictures of cute puppies pleading with you to give them 15 minutes of your time.
My advice for your 2024 digital marketing plans is to be clear on your priorities, keep an eye on new developments on your focus platforms, and then plough as much time as you can into creating great content – this is ultimately what will help you achieve your digital marketing goals.