Social Media: The Next Marketing Frontier

If your restaurant is not on social media yet, it’s time to jump on it. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, your customers are on social media and it’s the perfect opportunity to keep your restaurant top-of-mind for new and old patrons alike.

Marketing in the social space can help you:

  • reach a broader audience,
  • increase brand loyalty and awareness,
  • and drive up profits

Who wouldn’t want that?

Be Social

Think of social media as a supplement to all the marketing you do elsewhere; only this time, you can do the marketing on your own (if you prefer).

These are our tips on how to get started:

The customer always comes first. The goal isn’t to bombard them with as much information as possible or to convince them into believing you’re the best. No, they just want to converse and connect. You plant the seed and leave the rest to them.

Create great content you can share on your website. From blogs to videos and employee featurettes to downloadable menus—give your followers a reason to visit your website. And then make sure your website has links back to all your social media pages so they have a way to get back and connect with you.

If you don’t have content, borrow some. You can’t pass off someone else’s work as your own, but you can establish yourself as a knowledgeable presence in the restaurant industry or as a local business if you’re sharing links to outside content that’s interesting and worthy of a conversation or two.

Marketing doesn’t need to be on the fly. If you’re managing social media on your own, then you’ll want to make sure you have a well-defined schedule in place. There are many tools that can help you schedule posts ahead of time and on multiple platforms. A lot of these tools go beyond just scheduling assistance, too. Some of these also allow you to read through your activity, manage your connections, interact with followers, and start conversations.

Get Started

There’s a lot of little things to know about each of these social media platforms, but we’re going to touch on the highlights to give you an idea of where to start.

Facebook

  • Lots and lots of photos. Studies show that 87% of image posts on Facebook receive interaction. Link and text posts just can’t compete. So get some good looking photos of your menu, your restaurant, and your food up on your page! And don’t forget about that static banner up top. Lots of prime real estate to take advantage of with a high resolution and very appetizing photo of your food.
  • Give people a reason to follow you. Promote this weekend’s specials, talk about what you’re offering at Restaurant Week next month, start up a contest, etc. Remember: people are on social to connect and find good deals. Use your page to give that to them.
  • Know your niche. Facebook allows you to create different pages for your own purposes. Create one for your menu and create one to promote your specialty. Whether you’re a well-known brewery or you have the best fish and chips in town, dedicate an entire page to call attention to what you’re best at.
  • Pay to play. This is the big thing with Facebook now. If you really want to reach a wider audience, you’ll have to pay to sponsor your posts. Set your budget any way you want ($10 a week, $100 a month, etc.) Then target your audience based on your locale, your specialty, or the type of post you want to share.

Instagram

  • Get those pictures up! If you thought Facebook was photo-friendly, then Instagram is photo-loving.
  • Make your mark. Instagram might only be a platform to showcase all your pictures in one place, but you’ve got to remember to add hashtags (#) and handles (@) where you can—and as many as you can. Hashtags give you the ability to play with keywords and trends to get more attention.
  • Give your followers a voice. While you’re sharing those great pictures of your team busting their collective hump for a very happy crowd, invite your followers to upload photos of their own experience at your restaurant. Turn it into a contest and give them an opportunity to share their best photos of your restaurant in order to win a free dessert on their next trip.

Twitter

  • More images? Yes, more images. Noticing a trend here? Image posts are top performers across all these platforms, so take advantage of it. Remember: Twitter only allows posts to be 140 characters long and they fly through people’s feeds at an alarming rate. Add a photo in there so yours stands out!
  • #MakeItViral. Like with Instagram, you’ve got to get with the hashtagging program. Check out the day’s trending hashtags to see if you can play off of what’s hot right now. If you can’t trendjack, at least make sure you’ve got some popular and relevant tags so people can easily find your stuff: #food, #nomnom, #video, #RestaurantWeek, etc.
  • Got a special event coming up? Sponsor it. Like with Facebook, you can pay for more attention. If you’ve got a big event coming up or you want to drum up interest in a new menu offering, dedicate some of your marketing funds towards sponsoring your post.

Yelp

We’re going to give Yelp a special mention here since it’s not really a typical social media platform that lets you write posts and interact with followers or friends. This is a review site, but it’s definitely one you need to get in your arsenal if it’s not there already.

This is very locale- and specialty-specific, so it’s great at getting you the attention you want in your local area. Just make sure it’s the right attention. Bad reviews can do a number on your reputation, and so you want to keep a close handle on your restaurant’s Yelp account. If you see a negative review come through, do some research to find out what went wrong and always respond. Whether negative or positive, Yelp is a great way to reach out to your audience and offer them something special for their feedback.

 

No matter which of these platforms you plan to use (and there’s plenty more out there worth considering), keep in mind that social media marketing isn’t just about increasing your bottom line. It’s about making genuine interactions and connections with your followers.