Of course, you should let your customers share pictures

by Ron on March 28, 2014

Beautiful, colorful, delicious looking tomato salad.The other day on Twitter, I came across a story about restaurants banning photo taking. My first thought was, that this was short-sighted, especially in a business like food service where word of mouth can make or break you.

The writer suggested that taking a moment to snap a photo and share it which literally takes seconds with today’s tools would leave the food cold and chef grumpy. I’m not sure why that would be the case so long as they put the phone away and start eating and don’t sit there and text and share other things for 10 minutes afterward.

As for the Chef being grumpy, why ever for? If people are sharing pictures of his food and telling their friends where they are eating, this isn’t a reason for consternation –quite the opposite. The chef as a small business owner should be thrilled people are talking about his restaurant in a positive way on the social internet.

If I owned a restaurant, I would put up sign that said my business welcomes pictures and feel free to share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or wherever you like. I would leave instructions on how to access my accounts and I would encourage patrons to friend and follow us.

Now, I understand people don’t like a table full of people staring at their phones the entire meal, and I’ve seen this, but quickly sharing your picture? I don’t see a big deal and from a business perspective, this is pure gold.

Whatever your small or medium size business may be, a restaurant, a real estate brokerage, a law firm or a mobile app design shop; you want people talking about you on social networks and if they are doing it spontaneously just seeing your products, all the better.

Social media mentions are like free advertising. How have we always chosen the companies we do business with? We have asked friends. In the days before the social internet, we might have picked up the phone or asked at parties or wherever we happened to get together.

When our friends mention these businesses on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and other places, it is the equivalent of giving a tacit recommendation to their friends. I’m eating at this restaurant and I love it so much, I’m taking a picture of my delicious meal and I’m sharing it with you. Don’t you wish you were here too?

I can understand some of the social media and smartphone backlash, but as a business owner you really don’t want to get into the business of policing your customers and dictating what they can’t and can’t do with their devices unless it’s creating a serious distraction for some reason like talking loudly on the phone and disturbing other customers.

Short of that though, you should absolutely embrace social media because you couldn’t ask for better publicity without paying a penny. Your customers become your brand ambassadors and that should be the goal of every SMB.

Photo Credit: “Breville Fave Food Shot” by Breville USA. Used under CC 2.0 Attrbution license.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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