How Are Social Media Reviews Impacting Your Food Business?
47% of millennials say they text, tweet and Instagram whilst they eat – a concept that 10 years ago would have seemed rude. Around
88% of consumers trust online reviews more than a personal recommendation, meaning social media reviews – both positive and negative -are more important than ever. So, how can you utilise or protect yourself from a tool, that nearly everyone has access to at the tip of their fingers? Social Media Improves Your Customer Experience A survey carried about by Nisbets found that Facebook is the most popular social media platform for catering businesses, with 52% citing it as the most important tool for their marketing efforts. Twitter followed as the second most popular social media platform, with 20% believing it has helped their marketing strategy. With over 58% of UK people actively using social media, its huge reach makes it a valuable tool for restaurants, pubs and caterers in order to increase their profits. Social media offers food businesses the exposure they wouldn’t necessarily achieve whilst solely relying on passers by. Additionally, social media presents you with the capability to target your consumers by age, location and even interests; meaning you can really put yourself in front of your target audience at minimal or no cost.
As well as making life easier for food businesses, social media also improves the customer experience before your consumer has even stepped through your door. Consumers can visit your website and social pages to get a feel of your brand and what the menu has to offer. If you’re savvy, you will also make the most of your positive online reviews and feedback. If they’re instantly available upon a consumer searching for your business you are sub-consciously reinforcing their decision to eat at one of your sites!
But Unfortunately, You Can’t Hide From Your Food Hygiene Rating
An issue which was brought to light at the start of 2019 was the importance of making your food hygiene score visible to the public. Over half of UK food establishments hide their food safety score (regardless of where it falls on the rating scale), which means the consumers will definitely have to take to the internet to decide whether your food business is food safe.
Back in 2018, our very own Annabel Kyle, Consultancy Manager North, appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss why some establishments choose not to showcase their food hygiene rating in their premises.
“You might not display it (your food hygiene score) if you’ve got a poor rating, if it falls around the bottom end (0-3). You may feel that this sends a bad impression. I think that’s probably the key motivation for not wanting to show it off. However, there are other factors as well. Some large brands don’t think that the branding of the food hygiene rating (green & black) matches their brand’s look. It might not meet the aesthetic that they’re going for, so they may have a policy not to display the rating. So it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story if it’s not displayed.”
“It’s also not just about the cleanliness of the restaurant, both in the eating areas and the kitchen. There’s actually three different areas that the establishment is scored on. Hygiene, documentation and the condition of the building are the three areas which contribute to the overall score.”
This means that if you make the decision not to display your food hygiene rating in your premises (and we highly advise against this), consumers may be more determined than ever to find out your food safety standards. The Food Standards Agency website actually displays the hygiene ratings of all UK businesses and there are also several apps out there which do the same.
It’s therefore vital that if you operate a food business you should strive for a food hygiene rating you would be proud to display. The process can seem daunting, with technical terminology, lengthy logging and strict procedures to follow. However, when you use a third party company like ourselves there is nothing daunting about it! We’re here to work alongside you to achieve a food hygiene rating you won’t be ashamed to own.
Online Reviews Spread Fast
With such a significant amount of people reading online reviews prior to visiting food establishments, it is also worth pointing out that around 34% of diners currently choose restaurants based solely on information offered on peer review websites. This means that a significant proportion of diners disregard the restaurant’s website or social media pages, preferring to rely on data presented on review sites, further increasing their importance and influence on the market. Another interesting fact is that approximately 53% of the coveted 18 to 34-year-old demographic reported that online reviews play an important role in their dining decisions.
However, the ease of complaining online often means that you won’t know that you have an unhappy customer (or even a food safety issue) until the consumer has left your premises. Rat in the kitchen? Poor hygiene standards? It’s quite common that consumers won’t mention this to you directly, or even if they do, they will most likely leave a review/tweet/post about their experience anyway. Your natural reaction will most likely be to reply and to pacify the gripe. However surely it’s better to be proactive so that you can prevent such negative experiences and reviews happening in the first place?
Ensuring your business has a documented and bespoke
food safety management system is a great place to start. Not only will it help you follow stringent food safety procedures, at STS, we tailor our food safety management systems to the individual need’s of your business. No more trying to fit round pegs into square holes, which is quite often the case with many food safety management systems.
Get in touch with our team today to start improving your food hygiene ratings. Call us on 08450 50 40 60 or email