You know your restaurant needs to be on social media…now what? It’s not enough to just be there and hope that the traffic happens and all your marketing dreams come true. You need to be doing social media right. But that can be difficult when you’re not sure how to make a strategy designed to accomplish your individual restaurant’s goals.
If you’ve ever wondered how you can do more than just make sure you post to social media every so often, we’ve got tips for you. Here are five ways that restaurants can really maximize their efforts on social media platforms:
- Build a visual menu
Obviously, you’ll want to post pictures of your food specials, appetizers, desserts, etc. to different social channels. Pictures are high performance pieces when it comes to social media engagement–people like looking at delicious food and they like sharing photos of delicious food. But why do all the picture-posting yourself when you can invite your customers to be a part of the experience?Create a hashtag, perhaps #yourrestaurantmenu (replace “your restaurant” with, y’know, your restaurant name), and then plaster it all over Instagram and Twitter–NOT Facebook**–as well as your physical restaurant space. Tell customers about your hashtag and invite them to take pictures of their food (which so many people are already going to do,) and upload them to Instagram or Twitter along with your hashtag. You can even incentivize them to do so by offering a free drink or appetizer as well. Once you have several photos collected under the hashtag, you can start to promote the hashtag in other places as well, such as your website, to attract potential customers…when they see the food, you know they’ll want to come in!
- Promotions & Contests
If you’re going to do some kind of special or promotion in your restaurant, a great way to create buzz around it is to post it on social media or, even better, make social media a part of the promotion. Make sure to advertise if you have certain specials on certain nights, of course, but you can also run contests and promotions on the individual platforms. Need more engagement? Ask your followers to share or retweet your post, and in return, their names are entered to win a gift card! Offer a promotion that centers around check-ins: when a customer checks in to your restaurant, they need to show their server or a house manager, and then they can get a percentage off their bill or a free drink. This way, your customers are doing all the marketing for you–they are sharing with their social circles that they are in your restaurant, giving you exposure to their entire community for free.
- Build review base & engage customers
Facebook has a specific review section to their platform where customers can review your restaurant on your Facebook business page. Ask for these reviews! When a customer checks in to your restaurant, go online, thank them for coming in, and ask for them to write a review of their experience. Additionally, when customers comment on your posts or tweet at you with questions or concerns, you can handle them immediately by responding on the social media page. This shows that you engage with your customers, you care what they think, and you want them to interact with you!
What if someone leaves a negative review? You can monitor those and respond to them swiftly through a private Facebook message. Don’t be afraid of these reviews–they can be a great opportunity to build your business!
- Create a voice & ambience for your business
You work hard at creating a certain kind of dining environment and experience for your customers–that type of immersive experience should be well-represented on your social media pages as well! Use that dining experience framework to develop your social media voice–how you want to talk to your customers. Is it refined, sophisticated, and quiet, or loud, boisterous, and without pretense? Is it international, sports-related, relaxing, or a party spot? You get to determine what your social media page will sound like–think of it like having your own personal mascot that exemplifies the dining experience you’ve created…but online.
- Increase the clientele you actually want
The fantastic thing about social media is the ability to geotarget your advertisements. When you run even small advertisements, you can pick the audience you want to see it, based on age, gender, specific interests or occupations, and even location and distance from your restaurant. This is a good way to make sure that your restaurant is being seen by people who will actually become customers–and the type of customers that you really want to attract, at that! At the same time as you are honing in on one specific group of people, you also make sure that other groups of people aren’t likely to see your advertisement or page…namely, people who may not be good customers or part of the market you’re trying to reach.
Everyone needs to be on social media, of course, but you don’t want to just be on it: you want to do it the right way, to increase your audience size, maximize your efforts, and improve your chances of a return on investment. Just doing social media doesn’t accomplish much–when you tailor what you’re doing to your specific industry and your goals, like in the ways I’ve outlined here, you can use social media as a tool to put more butts in your seats!
If you are interested in learning more about the ways that social media can improve your business, let us know! We work with a variety of restaurant clients to craft social media strategies that will help them achieve their business goals!