Hangout concepts such as Pinewood Social in Nashville, Tenn., and food halls such as Chicago French Market illustrate a growing trend toward mixing dining with experiences, writes Datassential's Maeve Webster. "As the industry evolves and competition increases, it's no longer just about serving great food -- but also about having a great social atmosphere and creating a complete experience that sets one operator apart from another," she writes.
1-800-Flowers.com is embracing artificial intelligence with a Facebook Messenger chatbot, speech-enabled gift sending using Amazon's Alexa and gift concierge Gwyn, which is powered by IBM's Watson. "We wanted to make sure that we got to market as quickly as possible to make sure we are able to learn, iterate and perfect the experience as more and more of our customers take to these channels," marketing executive Tony Valado said.
Marketers should create their digital content with consistent messaging and design that reflects their brand identity and ethos, writes Matt Faulk. Create in-person experiences and work with local communities that share your brand's values to encourage user-generated content that reflects authenticity on social media, he writes.
Merkley+Partners ran a 40-minute Facebook Live event for White Castle to tout its new Chicken Rings, hosted by Janelle and Heather -- improv actors who humorously played up shopping-channel-style cliches. The livestream attracted more than 50,000 viewers who were able to interact with the hosts and their guests in real time.
Businesses need to know what customers are saying about them online, but also need to know why they're talking about them, writes Jaime Brugeras of Networked Insights. "When you understand the why behind a conversation spike, you bridge the gap between social reaction and proactive social conversation generation," Brugeras writes.
Dunkin' Donuts' "DD Summer Soundtrack" campaign focuses on five sponsored concerts that the chain will be using to power a social media blitz around its iced coffee products. The push will cover eight platforms: YouTube, Twitter, Spotify, Instagram, Vine, Periscope, Snapchat and Facebook. "This will be the first time we've had the mass social presence across all the channels on the same idea for the same promotion," said Dunkin' Donuts' Scott Hudler.
A new app from Dollar General allows mobile users to scan their items and pay while avoiding checkout lines. The DG Go app, for now available for use in just 10 stores, emails users an immediate receipt and applies any saved coupons automatically.
Pizza Hut is celebrating its new status as an official NFL sponsor with a push that stars the Pittsburgh Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster performing his own "Doorbell Dance" to mark the arrival of his delivery from the brand. The campaign is urging consumers to share their own celebration dances on Instagram using #Sweepstakes and #PizzaHutHut for a chance to win NFL game tickets.
Video-game company Electronic Arts monitors about 8 million online conversations a month to guide its social content creation, executive David Tinson says. "So often marketers and communicators start creating content and then figure out where it should go after. It has to start with listening," Tinson says.
Social media can help turbocharge your lead generation processes, but it'll take work along the way, writes Frank Paterno. Start by listening to your audience, and use their input to shape and refine your digital outreach. "No outreach strategy is perfect -- they need to be refined through trial and error," he writes.