Timing Social Media Messages For Service And Show Industries

 Technology  Comments Off on Timing Social Media Messages For Service And Show Industries
Nov 272012
 

Every restaurant, bar, pub, and show club wants to leverage social media. These media are free services; the people who choose to follow your business want to hear from you; and when done well, they can replace a lot of expensive, targeted advertising. Even better if your message makes your clientele tell others to follow you: valuable savings, exciting events, exclusive shows, and a sense of belonging turn triers into regulars. Assuming that is the case—that you don’t spam them with pointless noise but only post conscientiously, with “news they can use”—then social media will be a win-win investment for any business owner.

Unfortunately, all of your competitors are aware of these benefits and opportunities; and they are flooding Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines, and email inboxes with their best efforts and offers. Couple that with the fact that many users of social media only check occasionally, and your problem as an advertiser becomes one of distinguishing your announcements and offers from the rest.

Setting aside good copy writing and compelling visuals and links (a topic, perhaps, for a future article) the single best way to make your message stand out is, in a word, timing. This article presents what I feel is an optimal schedule of post timing for common attractions in the service and show industries, to maximize viewers and thus guests.

Note: I am assuming your principle target market is nine-to-fivers, not swing-, split- or third-shift workers or service industry employees themselves. I feel, however, that once you’ve grasped the basics I present here, you will be able to apply the timing principles to clientele with different work hours.

Specials

Specials include food, drink, and possibly value-adds like free parking or valet service.

Some establishments vary specials frequently, and it is those that will benefit the most from social media. If you, however, have locked into a routine that is rarely changed, treat it more like a regular event (below).

Food

When do you think about where you might like to go for lunch or dinner? Obviously, around lunch or dinner time! So this one is, on the surface, a no-brainer: post around 11 AM for lunch specials and around 5 PM for dinner specials. That’s when people are checking smartphones and making plans with others.

But that is just the low-hanging fruit. Look to how the major chains advertise on television, for even more good timing tips. Do you serve breakfast (or brunch on the weekends)? Then post the specials at around 10 PM on weekdays and perhaps a bit later on weekends—you know when your guests end their Friday and Saturday nights… or mornings!

Drink

First, I would suggest that you include drink specials when you post your food specials; but use good judgement! If your clientele favors a pint or martini with lunch, then by all means include it with the 11 AM post. If you’re more family-oriented, include drink specials only with the dinner specials post, perhaps only on Fridays and Saturdays.

If you run a show club and open for happy hour, or if you are a dining establishment that has live music during or after dinner, the 5 PM timing is also good for you, but absolutely include drink specials when you post to promote an evening’s event. So, odds are good that you will have food, drink, and the event in a single post at that time.

Note: I am a resident in a state where there is no happy hour, per se: drink specials must be honored from open to close to reduce binge drinking during rush hour (kind of makes sense, no?). If your local laws differ, then by all means be sure to post about an hour before a limited-duration happy hour.

Events

There is a vast variety of events that can be hosted at service or show venues: live music, a band line-up, pub trivia, singles nights, ladies nights, poker clubs. The list is as diverse as the creativity of venue owners and the cultural richness of your region.

Many events have common timing objectives, however. You want the punters to know about them as soon as possible; you need to remind them as they get closer; and you want to catch the eye of someone who is at loose ends and is looking for fun. That said, regularly occurring events behave much like daily specials: more than one or two posts about each event will be perceived as pushy or desperate.

Major Events

I characterize a major event as a one-off event booked well in advance for which people typically plan and budget. Tickets usually must be bought, sometimes early to be sure they don’t sell out; babysitters must be scheduled, sometime early to be sure they won’t be out; and reservations must be made for dinner, to complete the big night out.

These are the best times to post information about major events:

  • When the event is booked: Get the news out as early as possible. As for the time of day to post, most nine-to-fivers do not actually check their feeds during the work day (unless planning for a get-together that very day, as with specials above). So post either in the early morning as people check in before starting their day, or just after work hours as people get home and catch up, but not both! Whichever works with your schedule. For example, a show venue might post before locking up in the wee hours; a restaurant might post before the dinner rush (if applicable, as an addendum to the night’s specials post).

    Note: For the date timings below that do not specify a time, pick the time of day as with this date timing.

  • The day before tickets go on sale: Your fans will want to be ready at the sales web site or window, ready to reserve their access. Don’t make them miss out!
  • Two hours before tickets go on sale: Get folks excited and remind those who forgot to get ready. In many cases, this will entail an early morning post, as ticket outlets often open for sales around 10 AM. Don’t sleep in!
  • One week before the event: Everyone with advance tickets already knows, sure; so use this post to both inform and build anticipation. Perhaps offer a value-add to the post: a link to a popular or evocative song by the (headlining) performer(s); a recent addition to the line-up; or even a joke, if you can manage humor. Don’t let anyone seeing the post think, “I know, I know! STFU, already!” **clicks Unsubscribe**
  • The day of the event: Work out the time of day that best suits your principle demographic for the event, asking yourself when they will be checking their feeds for something to do tonight. Generally, I recommend around 5 PM (in conjunction with your specials post, as I mentioned above).
  • Near the end of the penultimate act: Nothing will excite the curious browser as much a picture (or short video) of your venue heaving and shaking the rafters! As a bonus, you’re not likely to be spamming your attendees… and if you are, if they’re staring at their smartphones instead of the act… well, take note of that and bring it up with whomever is in charge of bookings at the next meeting.
  • NEVER again: Yes, I said it: posts about how great the show was or how packed you were will more-likely cost you goodwill than behave as a morning-after kiss to your attendees. Nope, nah. Not worth it. Post, perhaps, to the band’s page or feed to thank them; and let any knock-on views see you not as advertising but as conscientious.

No two major events are the same, and so no hard-and-fast timings will work for every situation. Adjust the above accordingly, while always keeping in mind that your posts should be of value to your guests and you should value your guest’s time more than their dollars!

Regular Events

Much like food and drink specials, regular events can become repetitious to the point of irritation, if not timed effectively and used sparingly.

In general, include the pitch and details of the event with your 5 PM specials post, both so that the otherwise unoccupied folks can be reminded and so that those who might be put off by the event will know to pass you by that evening. While the latter might seem detrimental to the night’s takings, trust me: a new or fledgling customer that would find such activity an irritant rather than a compliment will be unhappy that you did not inform them of it as you enticed them with your chef’s latest masterpiece or $1-off well drinks.

Finally, if a regular event has established a following and become virtually a part of your business identity, consider splitting it off into its own page or feed, and encourage folks to join that one before and after the event for several weeks. When the new page or feed has gained traction, limit posts on your primary feed to very irregular reminders, for customers whose interests might have changed over time.

Succeed With Grace

In closing, much of the above advice focuses on a general principle: use social media to bring value to your guests, not to bring revenue to your establishment. The former will guarantee the latter, so long as you respect the most valuable assets that your customers have: time and attention.

Food Bank Coordination

 Application, Design  Comments Off on Food Bank Coordination
Jan 072011
 

Challenge

Municipal food banks depend upon food donations to serve the hungry. Coordinating donors with bank locations becomes a logistical challenge:

  • Picking up donations in a timely manner, without disrupting donor business
  • Distributing donations to banks that need them most
  • Accounting for the storage space of banks
  • Transferring food between banks, if actual numbers do not align with projected needs

Use Cases

A donor registers what they have to donate on a Google map, and chooses a range of pickup time (e.g. a restaurant will usually want it to be between 2pm and 4pm; a grocery store might prefer 10pm to 2am). Options to schedule recurring pickup days, dates, and times.

A recipient registers current stock (one-time, upon setup), storage maximums by volume or weight or other? (one-time, upon setup; and if storage increased), pickup minimums by volume or weight (below which it’s not worth the bank’s costs to pick-up; adjustable as needs change), and projected need (daily, weekly; based on history, once sufficient data is accumulated).

A bank’s delivery drivers are given a “traveling salesman” shortest route to pickup donations equivalent to the bank’s projected need. When they commit to the route, those donations are not made available to other banks unless released later by the receiving bank (to be re-distributed where most needed).

Architecture

Initial setup form, as donor only or recipient/donor.

Site (donor or bank) location definition, via manual text entry, push-pin on Google map, or GPS.

Secure verification of valid bank via server check against state or municipal registries.

User deletion of “bad” donor locations -OR- “bad” donor location reporting and server-side banning.

Multiple location support, for owners of several donor businesses or managers of multiple food banks.

Route navigation interface, once a bank’s delivery drivers commit to best-route pick-ups.

Option to use less efficient routing, if necessary to deliver more balanced meals at a given bank or system-wide.

Historical data storage, server-side or locally, for need projection for a given distribution period (day, week, month?).

Optional automatic application of need projections based on historical data, with ability to adjust before submitting to server for distribution.

Costs

Application development and maintenance – Open source community? Grants?

Validation of food banks against municipal or state charters – Possibly manual labor; possibly automatic with connection to government systems.

Server-side data accumulation and re-distribution to apps – Possibly a function of a public Google map; more likely hosted via grant or by government servers.

License

Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SAThis work is distributed by David Carle Artman under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

A Dubious Dichotomy

 Philosophy, Writing  Comments Off on A Dubious Dichotomy
May 271990
 

A society—any society—is formed by entities too weak to bear their environment and who must band together to survive. An embryonic society, struggling forth from non-existence, invariably must address certain key issues of coexistence and then develop mechanisms by which these issues may be met. Providence clearly is the first matter requiring attention, because it is some failure to adequately provide for themselves that has brought these forlorn entities together in the first place. How, then, is the
society to provide for them?

It can be presumed that each entity brings some commodity or good into the congress, but lacks other goods necessary to survival. Since a thriving conflagration of entities is the goal, and not a bunch of starving, exposed independent entities, each one throws their particular good into a communal pot and then begins drawing necessary and desired goods from the same pot. Here is this embryonic society’s second challenge. How will the goods of the society be distributed?

I must now make a supposition about our group of entities; I must postulate that they are primarily egalitarian in their distributive theories. If one considers this for a moment, however, it is not that difficult a premise to swallow. Each entity came to the congress lacking some things and having others. Therefore, since each comes into this political debate equally lacking, we can presume that each will be satisfied by equal benefit; I would even be so bold as to claim (as John Rawls did) that equal benefits is the only condition which will satisfy all of the individual entities. Clearly, then, the society’s first accomplishment will be an egalitarian theory of both social contribution and providence.

The third issue before the society will crop up almost immediately; it will be a question of liberty. Certainly, the communal atmosphere will relax many of nature’s challenges and burdens. The challenges of living together, however, will force a decision concerning an individual’s liberties within the society. The first time two individual actions come into conflict, the Entity Congress must once again be called. Their question: what, if any, liberties do we entities have?

Of course, it will be agreed that liberties are due to the entities; otherwise, what one of them would have freely entered the society? Therefore, some decision concerning the nature of these liberties must be reached. It is at this point that the Nozickian entities in the congress will leap to their appendages and vehemently shake their heads in denial that liberty can be realized in the equal state. They must be silenced for the nonce; a clear understanding of liberty must first be reached. There are, like most human concepts, two perspectives from which one can view liberty.

In the negative perspective, society is viewed as a champion of sorts, a champion which must tear down the interferences to individual action, then step back to insure it does not begin mastering those whom it endeavored to free. This perspective has an element of nearsightedness to it because it assumes that the interference will not crop up again in another form. Obviously, this is a possibility; but the champion has stepped down, right? In other words, the governing body of society will be gone (to allow maximum freedom), so there will be no resistance to future interference. This leads the society to turn to the positive perspective, a perspective which views the governing body as more of a guide through the boundless interference of existence. Now, however, the liberal entities are stomping about the congress in intellectual rapture, certain of their opinion that liberty and equality are incompatible, because society has, with the positive perspective, been severely restricted by their guide. In adopting a positive perspective, a whole range of actions are lost (namely, actions which cause others interference). After all, what guide would let those he leads trip and turn others aside?

Well, I am here to tell those frolicking liberal entities at the congress who are willing to sacrifice equality for freedom to sit down and be quiet. The whole of their argument rest upon the idea that being truly free (in a society) means having all of the freedoms possessed in nature, coupled with the freedoms garnished by removing nature’s interference. This is a clear-cut case of wanting to eat your cake and still have it as well. The core premise of a society is the betterment of the whole, of each and every individual in the society. Allowing any individual to exercise their (natural) freedom of murder means drastically reducing the freedoms of at least one member of the society. Remembering that providence (e.g. survival) is the only motivation to form a society and also remembering that the only acceptable providence for all members is an equal one, it is evident that liberty in a society is wholely different from “natural liberty”, but is in no way lesser. Certainly no one in a society possesses the freedoms that chaos allows, but they are likewise not limited by the whims of others in that chaos.

Therefore, when liberals claim that equality and liberty are conflicting concepts, when they try to construct a dichotomy with those two, they are making a major flaw. By trying to make social liberty include all natural freedoms, they fail to give proper weight to the motivation for the society. That motive is, by definition, to release the society’s members from nature’s bonds, bonds which are trying and difficult but which also, in their isolation of the individual, allow the maximum range of options at any given time. This is the yin and yang of societies in nature. Entities operate between the yin of social automation working solely for overall, sociological longevity and the yang of fiery, independent, selfish abandon which will be snuffed like a candle in the first strong wind of chaos. Like a man in a keel-less boat, no one would choose to embrace one side or the other in stormy waters, but would rather find a balance in the middle somewhere. Evidently, that balance would have to accept equality within society; but, it must also ensure maximum self-determination for each individual. Apparently though, when my self-determination takes away yours (as in the case of murder), I am breaking equality. Yet when I hold off on murdering you (or when I am prevented from doing so) I am losing autonomy. Am I in the same predicament as when I started?

No. No, of course not, because there is a co-maximization occurring; I seek to maximize equality and liberty. When one tries to co maximize two different states, one must decide any conflicts between these states in favor of one side or the other. In the murder example, there seems to be a conflict between liberty and equality; but, in fact, the conflict is between natural actions and social responsibility. Since we are operating within a society, this conflict, clearly, must be decided in favor of social responsibility (the “equality side”, to put the debate back into the liberal’s inaccurate terms).

Therefore, liberals need to be careful when they say that liberty and equality are in conflict with each other. Natural liberty and social equality are in conflict, true; but that is a given, is it not? That is, once we embrace the need for society, we must put aside natural freedoms in an effort to work together. Never are these freedoms gone, simply ignored for longevity’s sake. I can still murder; doing so simply forfeits my membership in society (because I re-embraced natural freedoms) and will, most likely, drastically affect my longevity. The dichotomy, then, is not liberty and equality, but, rather, nature and society. Noone who concerns themselves with these issues enough to have read this far will doubt that society wins that dispute, hands down.

March 1, 1990

Political Versus Social Emancipation

 Philosophy, Writing  Comments Off on Political Versus Social Emancipation
Apr 271990
 

History, specifically sociological history, flows with the sweeping currents and cycling eddies of a swift river. Karl Marx, in his essay entitled “On the Jewish Question,” like an intrepid and daring mariner charts and analyzes the flow of sociological history up to his era and then endeavors to cast a line to individuals drowning in the internal dissolution of the state. Marx puts the blame for this disunity upon the incomplete political emancipation established by the capitalist countries of the west. He goes on afterwards to present a viable alternative to the woes of the powerless, those he calls the proletariat.

Marx’s lifeline to the people finds its conception in what he refers to as “social, or human, emancipation.” Under this, the most extensive form of emancipation, the individual becomes a “species-being” whose concern for himself is expressed as a responsibility to the community of which he is an important, integral part. Each member of society shares a true equality in that forum in which it is most important to be equal: the social power sphere, the means of production. Further, because the government of a socially emancipated state is another sector in which each citizen has an equivalently loud and influential voice, it becomes evident that this socialist state, through the instillation of Marxist ideals, attains a greater progression up the scale of equality and unity and freedom than any mere political emancipation into a capitalist jungle.

What is, however, this concept of “political emancipation” according to Marx, and how does it differ so greatly and glow so less brightly than his human emancipation? For Marx, the politically emancipated state grants equality in government, an equal voice in matters of state for all citizens. This “free” state goes on, usually, to insure the protection of what are dubbed “human rights.” These protected rights invariably include, in brief, the liberty to do what one wishes with oneself and ones property—as long as the execution of ones desired ends does not conflict with another individuals liberties. To those who effect the political emancipation of their society, this structure seems enlightened and liberal. Wherein lies Marx’s problem, then?

It should be noted that Marx does see some progression for a society with its political emancipation. He, however, feels that this step is insufficient to alleviate the suffering of the working class, for it, in a practical sense, simply separates political and social power and then merely grants the equal sharing of only one of the two new divisions. Though political emancipation grants some degree of liberty and equality and power to the masses, it falls far short of the supreme progression of human emancipation. The liberty allowed gives the citizen only the freedom to “withdraw into himself;” the power it affords is solely the right of self-interest which leads men to see in other men, “not the realization, but rather the limitation of [their] own liberty.” (The Marx-Engels Reader, p.43 & p.42) Finally, because of the disunion of the society on an every day level, equality in the politically emancipated state carries but little political significance and only the equal right to liberty. This right to liberty, practically put, merely leaves “every man equally regarded as a self-sufficient monad.” (Ibid., p.42)

When the capitalistic freedom presented above is scrutinized and disected as Marx so did in his essay, the “enlightened state” no longer seems quite as glorious. Hope is found, however, in his plan for social freedom. It offers power and equality over and throughout the entire society by way of public control of all aspects of the society, governmental and social (the “means of production,” as Marx phrases it). All people have power over the government and industries through the unification that social emancipation generates. Furthermore, the equality granted is unparalled, for all social distinctions (religious, economic, racial, and so forth) necessarily will decay as the forces which propagate them (insignifigance, poverty, powerlessness, ignorance, competition) are removed by the revolutionary act of thorough emancipation. Though declared utopian by some, (as if that is a slur, or worse, as if such dreams are impossible) Marx’s ideas offer the best hope for the unification of a human society, be it in one country or one world. A global revolution seems a small price to pay for such a dream.