I rarely visit a nearby giant mall, so I don’t know where the stores are located. Whenever I go to there, I head straight to the map first thing. Rather than memorizing the locations of the stores I want, I use my phone to scan the QR code on the map to take it with me.
This is QR code in action doing what it does best: giving businesses a way to help customers take an offline source online and mobile. It saved me the time of using my phone to search for the mall’s directory on its not very mobile-friendly website.
While some customers haven’t adopted QR codes, it’s a helpful tool. QR codes take little space and you can provide a service to customers who use them. Even teachers are getting in on QR codes. At a recent school open house, each teacher posted a QR code for parents to scan to get the teacher’s contact information.
Using QR codes in retail and restaurants
Here are some ideas of what retail and restaurants can do with QR codes:
- Share basic information. This includes address, phone number, website URL, social media URLs and hours of operation.
- List products. Restaurants can post menus, while retailers can list brand names and products sold in the store. If possible, include pricing so customers know what to expect. You don’t have to change the QR code every time you change prices. Create the QR code to deliver a document or a web page. Then, all you need to update is the document or web page.
- Offer discounts. Customers who scan the QR code can get a code word or instructions for getting discounts.
- Collect customer feedback. You can put a QR code on your menu or next to your cash register. Use the QR code to take customers to a mobile-friendly form (preferably a short one) that allows them to give you feedback about their experience.
What NOT to do with QR codes
Watch out for the following:
- Lack of explanation for the QR code. Just posting the QR code and hoping people’s curiosity will compel them to scan isn’t enough. Give them an idea of what to expect when they scan it:
- Scan for contact information and operating hours.
- Scan for offers.
- How’s our service? Scan to share your feedback.
- Scan for our menu.
- Scan for items we carry.
- Create tiny or giant QR codes. We’ve seen some QR codes smaller than a dime. Phones can’t always successfully scan something that small. They should be at least the size of a quarter. But not huge. Creating a large QR code may be troublesome because customers have to work harder to capture it on the small screen.
- Send traffic to the wrong place. If your QR code just sends people to your home page, that’s not helpful. Remember people scan QR codes on their mobile devices. You want to deliver something they can use while they’re mobile.
- Fail to optimize for mobile devices. Whether your code sends people to a web page, form or something else, ensure it’s easy to see and use on a mobile device.
- Put the QR code in an accessible place. The first time I saw the QR code on the map at the mall, it was over eight feet up! I was grateful when they redesigned the map and moved the QR code in a much lower spot.
- Publishing the QR code on the website. What’s the point? One reason for doing that would be to share it with coworkers, franchises and others who might need it to use in their publications.
What other ways can retailers and restaurants use QR codes? What good examples have you seen? Bad examples?
When you are running a business, it’s easy to get bogged down by the hundreds of details you have to attend to and your good mood can get lost in the mire. But it’s amazing how powerfully it can impact your business when you look past the little things that are going wrong, and focus instead on what’s going right.
For example, who likes reconciling a bank account? It isn’t on my favorite list of tasks, that’s for sure. But instead of seeing it as a tiresome chore, how about being thankful for having another to-do item checked off your list? Or being grateful that you have enough money in the account to pay the bills?
Researchers like University of Washington’s John Gottman have found that we overlook positive events when we’re in a negative frame of mind. When little challenges add up, it can get to the point where you feel negative more than you would like.
Forcing yourself to “think positive” isn’t the answer. Scientific American cites research that says emphasizing positive thinking can have negative results. In “The Power of Negative Thinking,” Oliver Burkeman writes, “…telling yourself that everything must work out is poor preparation for those times when they don’t.” Worse, it can feel like you are lying to yourself. (See also: Yes, I Suck: Self-Help Through Negative Thinking)
Instead, simply look around you and start noticing what is going well.
Did a client say “thank you” for a job well-done? Did an employee bring in treats? Did you make a sales presentation that went well? Did a vendor ship on time (or even early)? Did one of your subcontractors bring you some good news?
When you are mindful of the small pleasures that show up in your life each day, your mood improves.
You’re also improving your business relationships.
If a friend constantly complains and never has good things to say, does that make you less likely to hang out with the friend? The same applies to prospects and customers. If they hear you saying good things about how your business is going, they feel better about doing business with you.
Social media gives you an avenue for sharing these good things about your business and industry. When you post messages showing gratitude, you get a triple benefit.
- First, you feel good. Posting the message online reinforces and strengthens the feeling.
- Second, it allows other people to share in your successes. Their congratulations help validate the positive feeling and make it last longer.
- Third, it lets people see that you have a successful, thriving business.
Here are some more situations where you can express gratitude:
- A friend emails or calls you just because.
- Someone who takes your call with a smile.
- The friendly cashier who checks in with you.
- Completing an item on your to do list.
- Welcoming a new employee with a Twitter tweet.
- A meeting stayed on track and served its purpose.
- Delegating to a capable and trusted employee.
- A client gives you work.
- A vendor delivers on time.
- Solving a problem.
- Phones and the Internet worked all day.
- Thanking a customer on your Facebook page.
- Sharing an employee’s good news (not work-related) on your Facebook page.
- Announcing a new product on your company’s LinkedIn page.
Make a commitment to post messages showing your gratitude for one week and see what happens and how you feel.
What other times can we show gratitude? How does gratitude affect you?
Twitter gives restaurant and franchise owners and employees a place to connect with customers, listen to customer feedback and get ideas. Yes, you want to promote your restaurant to compel people to stop by. However, focus on that too much and it’s a recipe for social media disaster.
Successful Twitter users share a variety of tweets that help them build relationships and help others. Here are ideas on how you can use Twitter to engage customers.
- Thank customers.
- Answer customer questions.
- Reply to customer complaints as soon as possible — even if you don’t have an answer. Tweet “We’re looking into it and will get back with you.”
- Ask for menu or specials of the day ideas.
- Ask for feedback on customer service.
- Thank people for reviews.
- Ask for music recommendations if you play music or have visiting musicians.
- Share cooking tips especially for the food you specialize in.
- Share timesaving cooking tips.
- Link to posted recipes.
- Ask what people like to include in their dish. For example, you’re a burger restaurant, ask what toppings people like to put on their burgers.
- Use one or two hashtags in some tweets, such as #chicago (restaurant city) #restaurants #dallasrestaurants #nycmcdonalds (city and franchise name).
Humanize your restaurant
- Talk about causes you support.
- Tell the story behind any artwork or pictures hanging in your restaurant.
- Tell people about an employee’s upcoming birthday and that if they wish the employee “Happy Birthday” they will get a special treat.
- Share stories and quotes heard in the restaurant.
- Share customer celebrations with photos. (Ask the customer for permission first.)
- Post photos of employees at work or with their favorite dishes.
Social network integration
- Mention that your restaurant is on Foursquare, and customers can get specials for checking in.
- Ask for Facebook page “Likes” so they catch future specials.
- Announce a contest that encourages customers to share photos of their experience at your restaurant or their favorite dishes. Use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or another similar source for photos.
- Set up a business card bowl with a sign requesting Twitter IDs at the restaurant.
- Link to a video tour of your restaurant.
- Let people know where to subscribe to email updates for coupons, announcements and events.
- Schedule a tweetup offering a discount for a group of 10 or more.
- Share off-menu items that your chefs will make anytime.
- Announce menu items that you’ve run out of and recommend a substitute. (Bonus points: offer special pricing.)
- List flavors of the day or the week. For example, if you’re a yogurt franchise, list or link to your current flavors.
- Announce specials of the day.
- Post dietary menu items, such as vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
- Reveal the new menu or menu items.
- Share where people can find coupons.
- Post a secret word that gets a discount or free item for the day.
- Post upcoming special events taking place in your restaurant.
- Announce events or locations outside of your restaurant where someone from your restaurant will attend.
- Share photos of menu items.
- Hold a trivia contest where the winner gets something free. Questions can be about your restaurant or the type of food you serve.
- Announce dates and times where a food truck will show up.
What other ways can a restaurant or franchise use Twitter to connect with customers?
is a powerful concept that is important to understand when you are setting goals for social networking programs. In my last two blog posts, I talked about what social capital is and how you can measure social capital.
Amplifying an individual, business, or any resource within your network results in the increase and spread of knowledge, ideas, and connections, and thereby increases the quality and quantity of the connections in your social graph.
Amplification is a direct result of relationship brokering. This can be accomplished in a number of ways:
Connecting people and resources to one another
When you connect two individuals with similar or complementary needs and goals, you immediately amplify your network. Closing this gap between these two individuals increases the connectivity and value of your network. The more influential the people are, the greater the value you – and they – derive from being connected.
Sharing resources is another way to spread value on a qualitative and quantitative level. You could share ideas, business knowledge, storefront space, project advice, and many other assets. Through sharing we add reciprocity of trust and value, which is very important to amplifying your network’s influence.
Inviting people with varied and opposing points of view into conversations
In your network, it’s important to create a diverse array of groups, ideals, goals, and backgrounds. Connecting with people who are different from yourself and from each other promotes the exchange of ideas, adds energy, and sparks more interesting discussions. It also gives you a stronger and more useful network.
The fascinating part of measuring your social capital and mapping your networks is that you can see which individuals, which businesses, and which resources have the positions of power in your social graph. Being in the core group brings one type of value; being on the periphery of the network delivers a different degree of influence. To amplify your network and your network’s influence, you want to target individuals who are both important and influential.
The people, organizations, and resources within your networks work together to create a common understanding of the personal and professional opportunities that lay ahead. You can identify people with needs you can fill, people with new and innovative ideas, people with talent and expertise, people with resources and various forms of capital – and target those people for your relationship-building efforts. When you deliberately and strategically amplify your network, you will produce the kind of strong connections you need to maximize your social capital.
This series of guest blog posts about social capital is courtesy of Bennett Resnik, a consultant on social capital and networks, and the creator of “The Hands We Shake” lecture series on how to build, grow, and sustain social capital. He is an expert in networking strategy and social capital retention. Bennett has helped start-ups, small businesses, non-profits and individuals develop a comprehensive strategy to build and cultivate their social capital.
In my last blog post, I talked about what social capital is. Today I’m going to look at some tools you can use to analyze and measure your networks.
When any type of group is created, be it a non-profit, a formal corporate hierarchy, a small business franchise, or social clubs, we need to take a step back and visualize the organization’s structure. Do you like how the organization and its people are arranged? Are there ways to make improvements?
These questions can be applied to personal networks. Can you visualize your personal and professional connections to see if there are changes you can make? Yes, you can!
Nothing will increase your awareness of your networks and the networks that are available to you more than creating a map of your networks. Mapping out your networks creates a visualization of the social capital available to you and your business, and helps you identify action steps for improving your network.
Here are a few software programs that can take your social ties and show you how everyone you know online fits together:
Gephi is a software program that allows you to create your own network map from scratch, entering in names and associations. In addition, there are several programs within Gephi that can collect social data from your Facebook profile and Facebook groups, mapping your connections there. Gephi, unlike other applications, can perform a dynamic network map. Networks are constantly evolving, and with some light coding, Gephi programs can continuously pull data from Twitter, Facebook or other sites, showing you how your network is changing.
NodeXL is a software program that is integrated with Microsoft Excel. It can be used by those with limited knowledge of social graphs and analysis; however, it also provides advanced features for analysts. NodeXL allows the user to plug data into a spreadsheet and also pulls data from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and other sites. This is a great tool for visualizing online networks, with a small learning curve.
InMaps is a tool LinkedIn has created to map and visualize your LinkedIn network. The great feature of this tool is that you can zoom in to different clusters and groups of the network. Once you select an individual in your network, their LinkedIn profile and details open on the right side of the screen. For users that rely heavy on LinkedIn networks, this is a great analytical tool.
Mapping your social network is a great idea. You get a beautiful image that makes it easy to see not just the people you are connected to, but how they are connected to each other. It’s the perfect first step towards optimizing your network and defining actionable steps to improve the quality and quantity of your relationships.
In my next blog post, I talk about how to amplify the relationships in your social network.
Today’s blog post is courtesy of Bennett Resnik, a consultant on social capital and networks, and the creator of “The Hands We Shake” lecture series on how to build, grow, and sustain social capital. He is an expert in networking strategy and social capital retention. Bennett has helped start-ups, small businesses, non-profits and individuals develop a comprehensive strategy to build and cultivate their social capital.