It’s been over a decade since social media has redefined the way that consumers and customers have interacted with their favorite brands, shops, and restaurants. These days it’s far more surprising to find out that some company does not have a presence on Facebook or Instagram than that they do.
But despite this, the supposed social media revolution has ultimately just led to a new status quo. Engaging people online has become commonplace, and there’s a growing understanding that social media did not invent a new way of interacting between people and companies, it just digitized the types of interactions and relationships that have always existed.
There are obvious benefits to engaging fans and patrons digitally, but, ironically, the new status quo can have a de-personalizing effect, especially for establishments seeking to build a physical, brick and mortar presence. If your online audience is growing, what does that mean in the shop? What does it matter for customers who haven’t yet become social media followers? Instead of just telling people “follow us” like everyone else does, how can you show patrons that they’re part of something bigger than themselves?
Forgive the ‘philosophizing”, but if you’ve found yourself wrestling with some of these issues, and if your business is interested in building an engaged audience and boosting sales, you’re going to want to learn about Smiirl, the social media counter that makes growth feel a bit more real.
Chefs and restaurant owners – we’re so excited to partner with Smiirl and help you get one of these bad boys in your businesses. They’re amazing conversation starters with your customers and a sure way for you to turn them into instant followers. Use code CHEFSROLL for 10% off when purchasing. Get yours here!
What’s a Smiirl?
The team behind Smiirl has been thinking for years about how to bridge the gap between numerical growth and physical presence. In a nutshell, the product is a Wi-Fi connected object that features mechanical split-flap displays. The flaps flip in real time to display a number. The most common use is to display whenever a social media page or account gets a new fan or loses one. As one member of their team says “One could be forgiven to say that it’s stupidly simple.”
Smiirl was first conceived in 2013 by the Paris-based team of Gauthier Nadaud, Raphaël Pluvinage and Romain Cochet. Gauthier had a client at an ad agency who was looking for ways to creatively engage customers using social media. Things clicked when they saw a prompt at a local restaurant telling customers “You’re already one of more than 2,000 fans”.
Gauthier thought “What if we took this idea, but made it ‘live‘?”
Friends Pluvinage and Cochet loved the idea and helped bring it to life. To date, more than 30,000 customers in more than 85 countries have fallen in love with the idea and purchased a Smiirl.
Restaurants, bars, and coffee shops were among their most early adopters, but the flexibility has allowed them to expand into many more industries since. Counters can be custom-branded with a company’s logo. They can also be set to display a huge variety of variable numbers — not just Facebook or Instagram likes and follows. Finally, while the most popular model displays 5 digits, a slightly-larger model can go up to 7 digits, for operations working with really big numbers!
Community Isn’t Frivolous
Naysayers might dismiss the idea, saying that spending hundreds of dollars simply to get a sturdy and artfully designed counter is unessential to the growth of business. It might be true that a Smiirl is not essential to a restaurant to the degree that a range is, or a point of sale system is. But if an operation already has these essentials, Smiirl could be one of the next things on the list.
Customers are the core of any business, and as long as your business is run with that attitude, then a Smiirl can serve as a sort of totemic reminder of the people that matter most. The number going up isn’t meaningful because it’s any old number. It’s meaningful because it represents the decisions that real folks have made to link themselves to your establishment.
Outside The Box
The images on this page can help to illustrate the unique ways in which a Smiirl can be deployed. Your imagination is the limit!
The device doesn’t need to just be a piece of decoration — it can be tied to other real-life promotions. There are some more-standard ideas, like offering someone a cup of coffee when they’ve liked your page, but you can get more creative too and boost business at the same time. Imagine how many customers might come hang out at your bar on a given evening if you announced that you were close to 10,000 followers and you would buy everyone a round when you hit that number! Imagine how fun and interactive it would be for patrons to be hanging out, keeping an eye on the number ticking up.
Keeping Priorities Straight
Fun ideas about promotions and warming ideals about community aside, Smiirl can help you build a successful business by directing patrons to follow you online; a step that will make them more likely to become repeat customers. Smiirl’s analysis shows that the presence and use of their devices will double a business’ social media growth rate.
So these devices can pay themselves off and then some, and that should be a priority. But bottom line aside, a Smiirl also offers a physical reminder that you’re building an engaged and excited audience, one that will support you through good times and bad. That should be a priority too. On slow days, or during a rough shift, it can be inspiring to see a physical token of the number of people who are cheering you on; who want to see you succeed.
Sometimes it can feel like a tension between building a healthy and supportive fan base and increasing revenue. Smiirl is a reminder that you can’t have one without the other.