Why Social Media is a Recipe for Success for Your Restaurant
Creating social media visibility for restaurants takes time and effort. Finding this time can be difficult with the day-to-day running of your venue taking priority but this process is important and must form part of your company’s business strategy – you cannot simply ignore it because you don’t feel you have the time or skills to deal with it.
71% of consumers are likely to buy products based on social media referrals. – HubSpot
Rather than letting fear or frustration convince you to give up, immerse yourself in the subject and follow these simple guidelines to create the foundation of a strong social media strategy for your restaurant.
Do’s and Don’ts for Social Media Platforms
When we talk about marketing strategies for restaurants, there is no miracle recipe with a one-size-fits-all approach, what will succeed for your restaurant is going to largely depend on the type and style of your establishment, who your customers are, and what sort of values you adhere to. However, all restaurants can benefit enormously from using social media and connecting with potential customers.
Restaurateurs report their most effective marketing channels are: Social Media, Online Listening and Search Engine Marketing – Toast
A massive proportion of internet users are active on social media, and it’s important to build your business on at least one of these platforms. You can start with simple posts or sharing relevant links, this will let you analyze what works best for your restaurant and where to take your strategy in the future.
Don’t wait for the next popular platform or devote your attention solely to new applications; there are many platforms that fall in and out of favour with the public, you should put your attention and budget in an area that is going to give you proven results (such as Facebook or Instagram). Spend your time mastering the platforms that your customers are visiting rather than trying to be on every single channel, in this way, you can focus your efforts in the right place and do it consistently well.
What to Publish on Social Media?
Content that’s worth publishing must be engaging, educational, and exciting – not simply focused on pushing sales. From time to time, you can post a message about a special offer or upcoming event, but your business strategy must not be limited to just advertising your products. People use social media to connect with others, not just to buy services or products, and brands that are too aggressive with their sales approach actually find themselves losing engagement and exposure.
Share beautiful photos of your dishes and your restaurant, post interesting local insights, ask questions, invite people to participate in conversations, and write articles about cooking or a specific aspect of your restaurant. Show your staff that you appreciate them and pay tribute to important mentors and influencers in the industry. By creating content that showcases your values as well as your menu, you are giving your audience the opportunity to learn more about your brand and form an emotional connection with you.
93% of people say the visual appearance of products influence their purchasing decisions (KissMetrics)
Make sure that you keep your content up to date – if you remove a drink or dish from your menu, you must let your visitors know, otherwise they may be disappointed if they visit your establishment and find it no longer available. You could get your customers involved by posting a photo and asking what they would like to see in its place. If you run it as a poll, you can send everyone who voted a private message, inviting them to come and enjoy it with you!
As a general rule, if you think your content is ‘good enough’ then it’s not and you shouldn’t post it. Only add content to your channels that is going to add values and promote you at your best – if you don’t think your content is stunning and worth stopping to look at, your customers aren’t going to think so either.
How Often Should Your Restaurant Post on Social Media?
According to Buffer, you should be publishing content several times a day, with the amount of posts being dependent on each platform. Here are some simple guidelines:
- Blog: 3-5 articles per month at first, then increase as you see fit
- Facebook: 1-2 or more posts per day
- Instagram: 1-3 posts newsfeed posts per day and stories
- Twitter: 3-8 tweets a day or more
- Pinterest: 5 pins a day
While these are good practices to adopt, remember that they are only suggestions; making use of analytic tools to discover what channels are the most popular with your target demographic, and which types of content are really resonating will allow you to refine your content and posting schedule. You must be consistent with your posting to see your efforts rewarded with more sharing and visibility.
Social Media has largely replaced traditional forms of communication; especially when it comes to customer service and reviews. People are using social media to give their opinions and advice;
84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – BrightLocal
When you market a restaurant through social networks, you need to remember certain elements to improve your return on investment (ROI):
Involve Your Audience
The key to success is to make sure your content doesn’t look like advertising. Community building has become a huge focus on many social media networks, and content that has visitors commenting and interacting with a brand are more likely to be seen and shared by the platform algorithms.
In addition to displaying your storefront, add photos of your menu and other exciting features of your restaurant. Share entertaining photos, such as a dinner show, bar, and specialities.
A visit to your social media site should be a rewarding experience for a new client, you should be providing them with reasons why they should remember you and want to keep coming back to see what else you are doing.
Take the Time to Answer Comments
An open dialogue can help to increase your reputation, improve your community standing and prevent possible negative situations from spiralling into crisis.
Give your customers the opportunity to leave comments and opinions. People feel better when they have access to a forum to express themselves. Once the feedback is given, analyze it and manage it quickly.
Thank those who gave you positive feedback, this will not only increase the positive sentiment from the individual you are responding to, but it increases the amount of content that can be indexed by search engines and shows future customers that you are a caring brand.
For those who gave negative feedback, you must take steps. If the review is false or has been left by a troll you can either remove it or if it’s on a 3rd party site, ask for it to be taken down. If it’s genuine, then you need to solve the problems and work with the customer, they are giving you a second chance to make their experience a positive one and change their minds.
Leaving a negative comment unattended doesn’t help you retain a customer, and even if you’ve helped the individual, context is lost overtime – if your customers can’t see that you’ve got involved and helped resolve a situation, they won’t assume that you contacted the complainant privately, they’ll assume you did nothing and you don’t care.
Give a lot of information
Finally, make sure your new consumers can find you. Make it as easy as possible for a customer to learn everything they need to know to make their dining choices. Enter your full contact information: address, telephone number and opening hours. If you are a seasonal restaurant and your business schedule varies during the year, make sure you have posted this information online.
Include details on your location and how to get there, let people know if there are any accessibility issues and where they need to go to the park or use public transportation.
The more information you give your potential customers, the less queries you will get for simple information, freeing up more of your time for genuine enquiries.
- Restaurants that use social media can do amazing things for their businesses if they use them effectively. You will be surprised at the improvement of your public image and the resulting performance.
- Creating social media visibility for restaurants may seem overwhelming with all the options available to you, but that does not have to be the case. Think of it as an important step in the success of your restaurant, as well as a way to interact with your customers.
- Keep things simple and enjoyable by following these tips and you will begin to see the positive effect that social media will have on your business.