According to Business Insider, a new Latin American restaurant in New York City’s Soho neighborhood named Comodo, is encouraging diners to take photos of their meals and tag them #ComodoMenu on Instagram. This is interesting for so many reasons. Instagram is one of the most popular apps right now, sharing a moment with Pinterest as King and Queen of the prom. Instagram grew because there was something simple and fun about the way users could share photos taken from their phones. The sharing is user-driven, supported by the filters and features of the app, but the user is in the driver’s seat.
Comodo jumped on the trend of foodies sharing photos of their favorite restaurant tableaus, sometimes including a review of the food. By inviting customers to partake in an activity sometimes unwelcome by restaurants, Comodo is recognizing how customers actually behave. They printed the hashtag on menus and are certainly paying attention.
The “down side,” as Business Insider points out, is the lack of control the restaurant actually has. These photo sharers are not interacting with anything related to the restaurant – everything is on Instagram. The only thread is the hashtag, which can be corrupted. At least one user has already done so, publishing photos of Ikea food with the #ComodoMenu tag. The restaurant has invited the user to reconsider confusing users, as well as stopping by the actual Comodo restaurant, but at the end of the day the user is in control.
What does this example show any brand on how to leverage trends, respect customers and pay attention?
- Customers will behave how they want to behave. No amount of marketing will change that. Accept the behavior as what it is and don’t try to stop it.
- Watch what cutting-edge customers are doing in your space. The bloggers, social butterflies and photo sharers are showing you not only what they expect, but what others will be doing as the norm in 6 months.
- Understand control is with your customers. They have it now and will continue to gain it. Work with them, not against them with corporate strangleholds on interactions with your brand.
- Continue to interact. Pushing out content on any channel now is just unacceptable. Customers expect – and deserve – to interact. Make it easy for them.
- Stand up for your brand. It’s ok to ask users nicely if they aren’t playing nice. I really liked the way Comodo gently stepped in and explained the hashtag when it was misused:
Hey there, I saw you posting a few food pictures on Instagram under the ComodoMenu hashtag. ComodoMenu was created to display the dishes of the Comodo Restaurant and we wouldn’t want to confuse people with other dishes from other places. If you don’t mind, would you please remove the hashtag from your pictures? And of course, you’re invited to come by our restaurant on 58 Macdougal st, NYC and take your own. Thank you so much.
What can you add to your customer experience to stay on trend with how customers are actually behaving? It’s a great question being answered by Comodo right now. Any New Yorkers who have been there? Share your experience – I’d love to hear about it!