Restaurant Chains Launch Interactive Facebook Menus

wowbao2Now that you might be checking your e-mail on Facebook in the near future, you may as well order lunch there, too. Exit41 has announced today an ordering system for restaurants’ Facebook pages, including regional launch partners Silver Diner, Wow Bao, Hello Pasta, and Bailey and Sage.

National chains like Famous Dave’s will soon implement the system on their Facebook pages, said Joe Gagnon, CEO for Exit41. “Most restaurants have already figured out that Facebook is a great way for them to interact with their customers and have gotten quite good at it,” he said. “[We help them] close the loop by turning interactions into sales with campaigns linked to ordering, feedback from customers linked to product, and ordering linked to needs, desires and wants.”

After clicking an “Order Online” tab on a restaurant’s Facebook page, visitors can browse an interactive menu. When they mouse over an item, a window opens that shows the price and lets them click to add it to an order. In the case of Wow Bao, viewers select whether they want to pick up the order or have it delivered from one of the brand’s three Chicago area locations. After filling out the order, the payment is processed and stored on Exit41’s server.

The Andover, MA-based service provider also adorns partner restaurants’ menu item pages with the “Like” button. Here’s the copy that accompanies the button for a Wow Bao combo meal offer: “6 people like this. Be the first of your friends.” If the user clicks “Like,” they can add a comment that his or her Facebook friends will see in their newsfeeds. At any rate, the “liker” will effectively join the brand’s Facebook page.

wowbaoGagnon said that his company’s restaurant partners plan to run targeted Facebook.com ads to drive direct sales via the social site. The CEO said his system lets restaurants reward Facebook “likers” with targeted offers for sharing menu items with friends on the social site.

“[The marketer] has visibility into who the customer is, what they ordered, as well as where, why, and how they ordered,” he said. “Additionally, we can begin to see patterns across [a restaurant’s] customer base and understand who its ideal customers are. [We can] then implement ‘look-alike’ ad campaigns across the Web…to drive day-part traffic for the restaurant.”

Gagnon added that some local mom-and-pop restaurants around the country were also on schedule for adding the Facebook interactive menu/ordering system. “What they have in common is that they are all leveraging Facebook to get closer to customers, or to reach a Gen Y demographic with new ways to order,” he said.

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