I’ve never wanted to visit New York City more than this July, just so I could say I was one of the first people to eat at 4Food. It’s not the food I’m excited to try (although their donut-shaped burgers with interesting options for filling the center does pique my palate’s interest). I want to order. I want to join social networks just so I can check in when I’m there. I want to create an awesome burger so I can tell everyone I know about it so I can win a spot on their leaderboard. But mostly I want to say I’ve been to the restaurant that revolutionized how the food industry (and other smart service companies who can adapt their ideas) uses social media.
A few notable ways 4Food is doing social media and technology right:
- Customers can order at a kiosk or checkout counter, but my favorite option is to order from an employee on an iPad that can take your order right when you enter.
- Customers create an online account where they can design their own burger, name it, and earn a 25 cent store credit every time someone orders it.
- A leaderboard displays the top customer-created burgers ordered, earning them more attention, orders, and likely enough credit for a free burger. Game on!
- Those who create burgers will be provided easy tools to promote their creation on their social networks, and with the 25 cent per order offer, this is sure to generate some passionate free marketing.
- A 220 foot screen within the restaurant will stream Twitter mentions, Foursquare checkins, and Facebook activity. Social media exhibitionists may do this without incentive, but they also are considering offering extra motivation through coupons and rewards.
- Their social media strategy is one journalists won’t be able to avoid. Already the Wall Street Journal has reported on the restaurant, and Eater, a NYC restaurant blog, has written up on them four times. So they’ll save in marketing costs but get exposure from customers promoting burgers and PR about how they’re making it happen.
Okay, so I realize I should play it New-York-style cool and say the restaurant sounds interesting, so if you’re in the area you should check it out. But I can’t contain myself from being un-cooly and quite nerdily excited that I might one day visit NYC and create a Mollie Burger. Or who knows—maybe their innovative use of social media will make them so successful that they’ll have to open a Chicago branch so I won’t have to travel quite as far.