Genevieve Maslin
November 20, 2018

Brand Interview Series: Milky Lane (@milkylaneofficial)

This week we continue our series on looking at influencer marketing from the flip side - we interview thriving restaurant chain Milky Lane on how they've used social media and influencer marketing to grow their massive online brand. 
Business owner Christian Avant gives us his insight into the value of social media in today's marketing landscape, and how he puts social media above all else.
Here's his thoughts on the future of Instagram and Facebook, the importance of influencer marketing, and how to make engaging content. Check it out!
How important has social media been to the current success of your business?
Social media has played a huge role in the success of Milky Lane. It allowed us to build an online audience before the doors had even opened through engaging our followers with "behind the scenes" footage of our build, burger creations and the journey that we were undertaking.
Broadsheet named us "A Restaurant Built on Instagram" just after we opened because we commanded such a strong presence from the get-go.
Through our Facebook and Instagram pages, we are instantly in touch with the people that have followed us from day one and we can share our creations with them daily.
If you aren't on top of the digital and social aspect of your business in 2018, you're already way behind. 
What social media channels do you use and what content do you think works best on each? 
Milky Lane currently uses Facebook and Instagram where we currently have 67,000 followers across each platform with a total of around 135,000 combined.
Facebook allows us to tell more of a story and we find that people on there are more likely to read content, allowing us to deliver a message.
Instagram is a quick scroll app so the image has to be strong, powerful and in line with what our target audience wants to see.
In a nutshell, what is the current social media strategy for your business and what role does it play in your marketing mix?
Content is KING. Both Facebook and Instagram have become tougher lately in regards to organic and overall reach but we're still huge believers in providing the right content time after time in order to relax the algorithms and reach a greater number of people.
Our strategy is a mix between our own content mix of pictures and videos, engaging top-tier influencers to dine at the restaurant and making sure that everything we create inside the restaurant not only tastes amazing but also looks incredible for Facebook and Instagram.
We see a lot of people throwing money at posts on socials that are still not receiving any engagements to justify the spend.
You can have all the money in the world to spend on ads and boosting but if your content isn't right, it's pointless.
Your posts go viral, is there a strategy to this? 
For us, it's knowing what people want to see. It's scouring the web daily for what's trending overseas, the latest video from LA that's just clocked 20m views overnight and creating relationships with the editors of huge pages like UniLad, LadBible, FoodBible and more.
We create content that we know the world would want to see and then pages jump onto it immediately.
We have not spent one dollar since opening Milky Lane to connect with or be shared with these pages.  
What is your favourite video you shared and why?
Our Milky Lane promo video shot by Cisco Corea is my favourite thing we've ever shared or created. We also used this as the start of our Cronulla announcement video.
The video was shot at the Bondi restaurant and captures what a night out at Milky Lane is all about. The smiles, the laughter, the theatrics of our food and drinks and it make you wish you were there. The food videos are great but this is still our favourite piece to promote the brand.
How has your brand used influencers to grow your business?
We openly invite influencers into Milky Lane to eat and drink for free because we're so in touch with the social world that we know the value of it.
Milky Lane prides itself on having the hottest models/bloggers/TV stars dining at our restaurants and through this, the brand perception to our audience is greatened.
There's a huge stigma around "why should we let you eat for free, we have bills to pay" but there's a huge potential for new and repeat business if you have your finger on the pulse and invite the right people down.
We have 8-10 top tier influencers or media stars dining each week across our 4 restaurants (Bondi, Cronulla, Parramatta & Gold Coast) and it’s something we actively work on increasing.
Where do you see the social media industry headed in the future?
It was only last week that I read an article that said consumers are becoming less trustworthy of social media and to be honest, I completely disagree with it. It's a booming industry that's growing every single day and it has such a strong influence over an audience through imagery, words, interactions and more.
Social media makes up 80% of our marketing strategy and has allowed us to open 5 stores within 2.5 years.
We recently started working with an incredible food content creator called Issac Martin and since then, our engagements have hit a new level.
We have a monthly content shoot where I create a run sheet of things I want snapped and filmed and that provides me with enough content for 4 weeks.
What social media tips/advice would you give to other brands?
Listen to what your audience wants to see, not only what you THINK they want to see. Invest time and money into creating the best content for your channels which will give you the best chance of higher engagements, reach and overall awareness.
ENGAGE with your fans. I probably spend 2-3 hours a day chatting back and forth in the comments section of our posts, people love communicating with the brand, be witty, funny and use lingo that connects with the people you're talking too.
What’s next for you and Milky Lane?
Milky Lane as a brand and company is only just starting to warm up. We have our 5th store at Coogee opening very soon, we're on the cusp of announcing 2 more. 5 more franchises have been signed and we plan to have 25-30 stores open by next Christmas.
There are negotiations underway for Master Franchise Licenses overseas for huge groups that want a whole region, not just one country. We are Finalists in 3 categories at the Optus My Business Awards with one of them being Social Media Strategy.
The possibilities are actually endless for Milky Lane and we're excited as a group to see what the next few years bring as we explode across Australia and all around the world.

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