Restaurants want to engage their clientele in as many ways as they can. While most realize social media platforms are excellent communication channels, not all restaurateurs are sure how to go about it. Adding social media to your marketing strategies can greatly increase awareness about your restaurant, help bring more patrons through your doors, and create engagement with your food.
Social media has a tremendous impact on restaurants both online and offline. As with anything, today’s consumers are influenced by online restaurant reviews as they make their dining decisions. Over 80% of diners trust online reviews and recommendations as much as they do anecdotes from friends, family, and colleagues and most of those consumers will pay up to 15% more for something if they feel assured that they will have a better experience. Given that three-quarters of consumers will interact with a brand because they saw it on social media, reviews on those platforms are the social proof restaurants need to grow and prosper.
That being said, it takes time, effort and money to properly establish and maintain a robust social media marketing presence. The goals are simple. Let consumers know you exist. Show them how your restaurant environment and offerings are superior to your competitors. And convince them to drop in. Here are some actionable tips for your restaurant’s social media marketing efforts:
Get Inside Your Customers’ Heads
One of the primary challenges for successful marketing is to understand the audience with whom you are communicating. First, try to think like your customer and determine why it is they might want to visit your establishment. Then, use that information to create a social media tone that is consistent across all of your social media profiles.
Take Advantage of all Facebook Advertising Can Do for You
Most patrons who walk through your door have a Facebook account and many of those probably spend an inordinate amount of time on the platform. Utilize the awesome opportunity Facebook provides to connect with your clientele.
COVER PICTURE Your cover image is the face of your Facebook profile so use it to your full advantage. Showcase delicious dishes and patrons enjoying themselves in your establishment. Use that space to highlight a menu change, specials, or new items. Include a short narrative of the image to further entice potential customers.
This example from The Crazy Crab Chicago shows the amazing seafood that inspires their name.
FOOD PICTURES Images are the most shared posts on any social media platform. Tantalizing dishes make for great visuals. Include tons of images of your menu items in your Facebook updates. You could also craft a quick glance at your current menu items.
Here is another delicious shot from The Crazy Crab Chicago.
SPECIAL OFFERS Post special offers on your Facebook page. To encourage followers to share your specials with their friends (and gain more followers) give an extra special deal to patrons who “like” or share your offer. Include contests or sweepstakes to generate awareness of exciting goings-on and to give patrons a reason to return to your restaurant and Facebook page alike.
And one more!
GEO-TARGETED ADS You can do all sorts of specific targeting with Facebook Ads. Certain offers and advertisements can be focused only on people in the geographic area surrounding your location. Ads can also target people with specific likes or followers who like certain pages.
The seamless integration of Instagram with Facebook has taken an already widely popular photo-sharing platform and multiplied its digital presence and impact. While you can use your Instagram profile in conjunction with your Facebook efforts, you can also do a number of things to use the platform on its own.
USING HASHTAGS Relevant, catchy hashtags are a staple on Instagram. Definitely create and regularly use a brand hashtag that accompanies every post on every platform where hashtags make sense. Establish a unique hashtag for any special events and offers. Not only can you direct specific information to customers, but you can also get a handle on the trend-worthiness of your hashtag.
Beyond your own hashtags, you can take advantage of any larger trends such as #nationBBQday to encourage visibility and traffic through your doors. Niche hashtags, for example, #chocolatetreats, will also help you be found by food enthusiasts. Increase foot traffic by including a specific location in your tags. You can also create and use campaign specific hashtags to communicate special promotions and provide customers the opportunity to engage with your campaign by repeating your hashtag in their posts.
MENU ITEMS Instagram is a photographic environment so use it to post images of your delectable menu items. Take things one step further by involving your customers. Encourage them to upload their favorite menu items to help build your food portfolio. This strategy will help create customer loyalty and a stronger bond between you and your faithful following.
For the ultimate in encouraging customer interaction, consider setting up a photo contest to gain more user-generated content. You can ask for food only pictures or photographs of customers enjoying a meal or interacting with staff. Feature a photo scavenger hunt for customers to take part in from the time they park to the time they leave your establishment. Get creative!
FEATURED EMPLOYEES Post photos of your staff interacting with your menu items and customers. Include a short description of who it is and how they contribute to the team. Encourage customer-staff interaction by offering a discount or free dessert to customers who say hello to a featured employee and mention the post on their next visit. This strategy will not only improve the customer experience, but it will also build excitement and camaraderie for your staff as well.
In addition to employee features, you can post a series of pictures showing a “day in the life of” type things. Chronicle what it is like to be a part of your team. Show what happens behind the scenes to create the restaurant magic that the public sees. It’s amazing how interested people are in that sort of thing!
NEW MENU ITEMS Whether you are featuring a new Chef’s Creation or your bartender has created a brand-new signature drink, utilize your Instagram profile to communicate that information. Fabulous pictures paired with “be the first to try…” type of text will stimulate customers’ appetite and motivate them to take advantage of your new offerings.
KUDOS, COMMENTS, CONCERNS Encourage diners to record and discuss their dining experiences, everything from food to customer service to the restrooms! Providing a place for customers to share their experiences will help build your social network and, hopefully, help you stay on top of what is fabulous and what could use some improvement.
Restaurants will find that Twitter is another successful marketing tool at their disposal. This mainly mobile app features an unprecedented number of posts each day that are shared at an unbelievable and immediate rate. Here are some tips for your Twitter marketing:
PICTURES ARE GOOD While Twitter started as a text-based site, photos are more and more prevalent on the platform. Post updates with food items, bar offerings, and scrumptious desserts. These readily shareable posts will help increase your number of Twitter followers and, more importantly, increase the amount of traffic going to your restaurant.
LINKS Include a link to your menu to give potential consumers quick, at their fingertips knowledge of what awaits them. Link to other specific landing pages such as weekly specials, targeted discounts, or seasonal dishes.
HASHTAGS Similar to Instagram, Twitter posts are alive with hashtags so include those branded and unique hashtags whenever possible. Remember that hashtags not only help your following, they also make your profile and posts more findable through Twitter searches.
COUPONS Many businesses have found that social coupons create viral campaigns. While coupons and discounts have been a part of restaurants for many years, putting them on social platforms like Twitter makes them shareable and super easy to access and use. Encourage your customers to take advantage of your specials and to share them with their friends.
ADS Twitter offers several ways to up the ante with your posts. You can pay to promote your best tweets to a targeted audience at specific times to make the most of meal times. You can also geo-target your ads to make sure you are focusing on people who can actually get to your location without driving half a day.
Social sharing is a communication vehicle that has reshaped the restaurant industry. Every patron is now a foodie photographer and critic to boot. User-generated content enables restaurants to take advantage of a limitless supply of social content to grow their fan base. Of course, with this comes the necessity of monitoring what is being shared and said about your restaurant, food, and customer service.
Restaurant social media marketing can hugely benefit from the real-time collection of the online mentions of your restaurant name and any branded hashtags. This is an important way to monitor your online reputation, show appreciation for good reviews and meet the challenges head-on. The powerful and yet simple monitoring tools available can also help you understand influencer marketing, the impact of your customer service, and where you might find new customers.
Get inside your customers heads so you are offering relevant content on your social media platforms.
Utilize all of the bells and whistles that social media platforms have to offer.
Remember how convincing an image of delicious food can be and take advantage of that! Share your menu through pictures.
Promote special events and seasonal happenings.
When in doubt, create a hashtag!
Most people have some sort of competitive bone in their bodies – create contests to increase followers and drive business in.
Link back to your website and to your other social media platforms.
Geo-target relevant audiences
Motivate consumers to walk through your doors with coupons and specials.
Provide a place where consumers can give you honest feedback, rave reviews, and suggestions for improvements.
Keep your thumb on the pulse of your restaurant through social media monitoring. Show appreciation for positive words and be creative in handling negative situations so that everyone wins.
Remember, not all strategies are the same for all customers. We recommend different things to each of our clients, restaurants included. A lot of factors play into these recommendations- location, budget, audience, availability of high-quality images, etc. The social media experts at Strategy Driven Marketing are ready to help with content, strategy, image editing and more. Contact us today to make the most of your restaurant’s social media profiles!