Mobile, Social Media Strategy

Why-Fi? Destroy Real-Time Social Media Obstacles

Although it’s expanded and morphed to become a catch-all term that means both everything and yet nothing, “social media” started with user-generated content, as sites like Yelp enabled consumers to weigh-in and sway collective opinion.

And while Twitter and Facebook (in particular) have stolen the buzz scepter from those UGC pioneers, the importance of facilitating customer-created content has not faded a bit.

But yet, companies seems hell-bent on making it difficult for patrons to make and upload content that could introduce their business to large numbers of new customers. This is extraordinarily short-sighted.

A few weeks ago I was in Calgary, Alberta visiting my friends and clients at AdFarm, an advertising agency that specializes in agriculture. After an in-office wine tasting, some of the AdFarm team and I went out on the town. (side note: as mentioned at the event, wine grapes are the only agricultural product where yield has an inverse relationship to quality).

real-time social mediaWe went to a newish pub called Wurst – a sly, modern take on a traditional German brew hall, complete with large steins, gingham clad waitresses, and a panoply of sausage options. With long, wooden, communal tables throughout, this is the kind of place where unusual situations occur, alliances are formed, and discoveries are made.

The glassware and signage alone is interesting, as the “beer boot” is the house speciality, and Miss Oktoberfest is humorously ironic. As these images suggest, Wurst is tailored to create word of mouth in almost every way. Except one.

I’m in Calgary. I’m a couple of beer boots into a crazy night. I’m an over-sharer with a nasty Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter habit. I do not have roaming data enabled, because I’m in Canada. And there’s no Wi-Fi at Wurst.

(Note: Since this post was published, Wurst contacted me (nicely) via Twitter to say they have had free Wi-Fi since they opened. I’m delighted they are paying attention in social media, and perhaps Wi-Fi was simply down the night I was there. Lessons in the post remain the same.)

No Connection, No Real-time Social Media

real-time social media 2Seriously? You invest literally tens of thousands of dollars in your barware and waitress attire alone as part of the construction of your good times emporium, and you can’t spring for public Wi-Fi?

If you want your customers to make content (and any sort of B2C business with an actual location does), you need to remove every possible barrier to instant creation and upload. Because once they walk out that door, the chances of them spreading your message to their friends on Facebook and beyond plummets like the Eagles’ playoff chances.

Sharing is about verisimilitude and in-the-moment expression, not calculated, “I’ll do that when I get home” planning. Why do you think Facebook is opening up apps that allow/encourage/force us to note that we are “drinking” “eating” “watching” “listening” and “buying”?

It’s about real-time. Now more than ever. Don’t stand in the way of your customers’ sharing like some kind of information bouncer. Open the Wi-Fi. Add signage encouraging participation in Yelp and Facebook and Foursquare and Instagram. Train your staff to spot great photo opportunities and give them the equipment to take them.

This isn’t that hard, folks. You just have to pay attention and think like a customer.

  • MikeWise07

    Jay, incredibly spot-on. Isn’t the challenge circa late 2011 that the vast majority of business owners are so heads-down running their business that they are not doing Social? So they miss these key difference-makers?

    Hey, also, the owners don’t need to provide camera’s, just need to train the staff on how to take good pictures with cell-phones – angles, ambient lighting, funny faces, etc. – on the fly, quickly, and with very little fan-fare. Pretty easy to do with the right techniques. And then say, “An extra round on the house if you upload that pic to the Wurst Facebook page and tag your friends!!!”

    Love the comment, btw, “…this is the kind of place where unusual situations occur, alliances are formed, and discoveries are made.” That’s what brings people back, plus great food, drink, staff, smells, etc. Gotta have the whole package.

    Great share. U da’ MAN!

    • JayBaer

      @MikeWise07 I love the idea of a on-the-spot discount if you show you uploaded it. Very smart Mike.

  • marketingveep

    I’m off I look up the word “verisimilitude.”

    Cheers — this is good stuff. It drives me mad when my iPhone detects a business’s wi-fi but can’t access it due to lock-down.

  • alexasamuels

    Jay, did you happen to inquire (through your sausage-soaked haze) why they didn’t have wi-fi? I’m curious if this was deliberate, or just something that’s never occurred to them. Of course, being from Toronto it’s tempting to have a poke at Calgary… but I refrain.

    • JayBaer

      @alexasamuels I should have. Didn’t.

  • MikeWise07

    Note: On second thought.. Are there legal issues with employees of the establishment taking photo’s of patrons, even with the patron’s own tech? Possible…

    • imamike

      @MikeWise07 As I work mostly in alcohol marketing I can say there are legal concerns with the bar itself posting photos of people consuming alcohol, but there is nothing wrong with customers doing it themselves.

  • rsomers

    Good post – but I’d take issue with the contention that social media started with UGC on sites like Yelp. Usenet and MUDs (multi-user dungeons) were the grandparents of social media, and people were interacting on them decades ago. Saying that social media started with Yelp is sort of like saying Motley Crue invented rock’n’roll

    • JayBaer

      @rsomers You raise a good point about that. I was thinking more along the lines of purpose-built UGC communities.

    • Michael Webster

      @rsomers I agree with your observation, and would take it back to bulletin boards. I don’t know what the term UGC got dropped.

  • gjeffnelson

    Jay. Welcome to Calgary. I wish I had known you were coming. Wurst is a fantastic pub and YES they should have Wi-Fi. But after a few beers maybe it doesn’t matter.

    • JayBaer

      @gjeffnelson True. After a few boots, I was actually really GLAD they didn’t have Wi-Fi.

      • gjeffnelson

        I sent them an email, to which they replied. I sent link to this post and suggested that they add their voice. Their response was they have WiFi. Go figure.

  • JoeManna

    Totally agree. And what would it cost them, $50 for a router and $20/mo for internet? There’s definitely ROI on that. Good writeup, Jay!

    • JayBaer

      @JoeManna I’m actually not sure what it would cost in Canada. Maybe more. But still….

      • Michael Webster

        In Alberta, you are paying about$19.95 a month for the lowest level of bandwith. Routers are comparable in price to the US.

        But you are making the good point – these are no longer options, it should be part of everyone’s marketing expenses.

  • JackiMieler

    After spending a few days in Vancouver in August, feeling like I had FB & Twitter updates trapped in my brain that I couldn’t get out, I feel your pain. It was such an amazing city, I ate ate incredible restaurants, went to great bars, but couldn’t share any of it because I was constantly in a wifi wasteland.

    • JayBaer

      @JackiMieler Amazing it is. One of my favorite cities, for sure!

  • imamike

    Last month I was visiting Alexander Keiths Historic Brewery in Halifax. An absolutely amazing branded monument complete with live actors and incredibly engaging stories that made you feel like you were stepping back in time. The only problem… they invested millions of dollars into restoring and running this monumental branded property and the stone walls blocked out all 3G connections and no WiFi was available. A massive missed opportunity, and afterwards I only shared 1 tweet about the experience with my followers. What a shame.

    • JayBaer

      @imamike I had the exact same experience at a winery/castle in Napa, CA. Insanity. Keiths sounds like a trip I need to make though!

  • RmSorg

    Great blog and I completely agree! In today’s day & age, how can you not have wi-fi.. or worse, I was at a local McDonalds where they advertise free Wi-Fi which is great but when I went to plug my lap top in, no outlets! Absolutely none!? No overlooked that?

    Don’t put up barriers and make customers jump thru hoops once you’ve got them in the door!

    Thanks Jay!

    • JayBaer

      @RmSorg Don’t get my started on lack of outlets. The worst in airports. Argggh.

  • nsweeney

    Good point, Jay. We do a lot of in-store online conversion at coupsmart to help bridge the gap between the online and offline. It’s always funny when we find a “social” business (a bar, a restaurant, etc.) that isn’t wired. What the heck?Oh, and Miss Ocktoberfest 2011 is a hottie. I always fall for girls with glasses…

    • JayBaer

      @nsweeneycoupsmart She is truly awesome.

  • ErikPosthuma

    Agreed Jay. It’s important for businesses not to only be remarkable, but shareable as well. Remove the friction!

  • rosemaryoneill

    While you’re on the subject of “simple things restaurants and bars could be doing but aren’t”…I keep waiting for my local restaurants to recognize the the Foursquare mayor has entered the establishment and say hello (at least). I’m not asking for a tiara, but a simple howdy would be good.

  • cjtheisen

    @michaelreynolds @jaybaer I had that happen tonight. Couldnt get to QR landing pages, hard to tweet & checkin etc

    • WCBTilly

      @cjtheisen @michaelreynolds @jaybaer +1 as well. Bugs when I’m in a place and Foursuare doesn’t pick it up, but shows places 4 blocks away.

  • jaybaer

    @michaelreynolds Thanks michael!

  • Aliosha @ MeltingPosts

    very interesting article, I agree completely with what you say here Jay.

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  • larsboom

    @kampeergek @TravelNextnl Campings moeten samenwerking aangaan zodat kosten laag kunnen zijn voor gasten.

    • TravelNextnl

      @larsboom @kampeergek Of het gewoon zien als een service die als basis wordt gezien over een paar jaar en er in investeren? ^Annelies

      • kampeergek

        @TravelNextnl @larsboom Eens met Annelies: net als warme douche zonder muntjes en wc-papier >> gratis WiFi, of versleutel in overn.prijs

    • kampeergek

      @larsboom @TravelNextnl Samenwerking met wie Lars?

      • larsboom

        @kampeergek @TravelNextnl Met providers ed. Marges van campings zijn te klein om zelf kosten te dragen denk ik. Gewoon soort barter oid.