Auckland restaurant trades cupcakes for Instagram posts

The tendency of diners to take snapshots of their meals has become almost ritualistic in its frequency. It has become the pre-meal prayer of the digital age, an unwritten rule that no food will be touched until the formality of prerequisite photography has been completed.

And although this does little more than annoy those who go to restaurants for food rather than photo shoots, one Auckland restaurant is experimenting with the concept in an effort to drive online engagement.       

As part of its birthday celebration, Miss Clawdy is offering (ends after Sep 28), every diner a free cupcake when they show proof of an Instagram post of its birthday cupcake (check out our other Miss Clawdy article).

Miss Clawdy is a family-owned restaurant inspired by the 1952 New Orleans hit song “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”. Nestled in the busy lane of Wynyard Quarter, it has been a hit among Aucklanders with its range of Creole-inspired flavours such as jambalaya and seafood gumbo.

Instagrams of food are the second most popular posts, and dessert takes out the number one type of food post. Instagram is currently the fastest growing social network with over 150 million active users.

“The last 12 months have been an amazing ride for Miss Clawdy and creating a cake currency is out way to give back on our birthday and share the love with our loyal customers,” says Tom Wiley, co-owner of the restaurant.

Social currency is defined as the value that can be derived from social networks and the brand awareness created through conversations built among networkers.

What Miss Clawdy is doing is consistent with a growing number companies abroad using social currency as a way to engage customers.

The UK’s Daily Mail recently ran a story on a pop-up diner called The Picture House that accepts payment in Instagram posts, while Fast Company also reported that San Francisco-based Doorman lets customers pay with tweets or Facebook posts as a way of saying thanks for the support. And major brands are also embracing the trend, with Marc Jacobs running a campaign that allows customers to pay for samples and other products with posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using the hashtag #MJDaisyChain.

“Instead of plunking down big dollars on advertising, the exchange helps identify loyal customers while spreading the company’s message via word of mouth,” Fast Company says.

The report adds that calculations done by analytics company SumAll found a tweet from a business generates about US$25.62 in revenue, while a retweet is said to reap about $20.37 because of its untargeted nature.

“Looking at Twitter’s most recent balance sheet, revenue per 1,000 timeline views comes to $1.49. Depending on the source, other calculations put the value at about a penny or 43 cents a tweet,” it adds.

Vivaldi Partners who researched the topic and published a report Social Currency Impact, 2013, says “social” required real commitment. Those who succeeded in using social networks to drive brand value addressed every dimension of social currency, including driving social buzz, building engagement and large social audiences, it says.

“Even then, conversion of social performance into business or brand results is not guaranteed. Its value depends on the category in which the brand competes in.

“There is a huge difference between brands and how they compete. What works for one brand does not work for another brand.

“Some brands like Playstation and Xbox compete on affiliation and community and have relatively little social presence on networks. A brand like Coca-Cola has much higher social presence but relatively little engagement. There is no one success formula for brands; each brand needs a different route for achieving social currency that actually translates into brand performance,” the report says.

The top three brands on Vivaldi Partner’s list were: Subway, Google and Target. The full report can be read here

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