How to successfully use social media to market your restaurantAuthor: Ben Luxon
If you’re not driving traffic to your restaurant you could very well be leaving money… well nowhere near your table. Promoting your restaurant through your social media channels is an important strategy of restaurants want to increase profits through in-house orders and online orders.
Here are a few stats which show just how important social media is to the restaurant industry.
- 63% of restaurants use social media for restaurant advertising as it was the most common strategy in 2018.
- 37% of social network users use social media to research brands, products, or services before making a purchase.
- 49% of consumers learn about food through social networks
If your potential costumers are already on social media then this is an opportunity to increase your brand awareness and improve both online sales and restaurant footfall.
Part 1. Creating a powerful social presence
With limited resources to hand and many restaurants being busy already, social media can seem like an unimportant chore. As such, it constantly gets pushed to the bottom of the to do list. This is wrong for several reasons not least of which is it takes time to build your channels. Putting it off could set you months or years behind your competitors.
At the very least you should set up and have a presence on the major social channels if only to ensure that all your restaurant information is there and correct. The key information you should include on your profiles is your location, business hours, phone number, and a link to your website.
This needs to be consistent and kept up to date across all the channels as well as any business listing sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. By ensuring the information on your social media profiles and listings are consistent, you may find that your restaurant actually ranks higher on Google Maps for local search.
Choosing your channels
As we mentioned above there are a number of social channels that you can use. However, you don’t have to use them all. In fact, unless you are experienced with each channel it’s is recommended to focus your efforts on just one or maybe two channels.
To make your restaurant as easy to find online though it is a good idea to have an up to date profile on all of the major channels even if you don’t regularly use every one of them.
The three major channels are:
Each of these requires a slightly different approach to use successfully. Other channels you might want to consider if you have the time and resources include Pinterest and Youtube.
Tips for using Facebook for your restaurant
This is an absolute must have for a restaurant. With an average of 1.73 billion people logging into Facebook on a daily basis, you are missing a huge opportunity if your restaurant doesn’t have an accurate profile.
When you do post on Facebook avoid posting plain text. Facebooks algorithm favour images over text and video over images. You can also use Facebook’s in-built scheduling tool to make sure your posts are shared at the right time.
Remember when you are posting on Facebook that people are looking for additional value from our posts so be careful about posting too much self-promotion. Instead, think about how you can add value by sharing tips or offering discounts and special promotions.
We live in an era of tantalising images and food porn. This makes Instagram the perfect place to share pictures of your restaurant and alluring shots of food. Additionally, it is owned by Facebook which allows you to seamlessly share across both platforms simultaneously.
For Instagram, high-quality photos are a must.
One successful strategy restaurants have used in the past has been to get followers to tag your restaurant in images of their favourite dishes. This increases your organic reach.
Additionally, it’s important for you to always use relevant and prevalent hashtags. You could even create your own hashtag.
Twitter is great for short messages such as daily meal deals, promotions, last minute menu additions and changes, fun facts and photos, and more. Include links to your website’s menu items.
If you craft messages that your Twitter followers like, they may re-tweet them enabling you to reach an even broader audience. Add hashtags to your posts; this is good to remember for other social media platforms, too.
Claim and monitor your online listings
Having a strong and consistent image across all your online profiles is important. Which is why it’s recommended to make sure you claim your listing on all major listing sites. Make sure to claim your listing on Google My Business, Trip Advisor, and Yelp, for example.
For any and all channels make sure you monitor them for new reviews and respond to each and every review appropriately.
Part 2. How to use social media to increase restaurant sales
This is all about reach as many of the right people as possible. Employing and executing the right strategy is vital to success.
Run social competitions and giveaways
Competitions and giveaways generate a huge amount of engagement. People will happily share, comment and promote your competition post if they get a chance to win something.
Some examples of social media contests you could run for your restaurant:
- Guess the name of each of the dishes to win a coupon worth $X to be redeemed at any of your locations.
- Use the Hashtag to be in for a chance to win tickets to an exclusive event,.
- Share and tag us in a photo of our food for a free drink with your meal.
Get creative. These are fun and engaging ways to promote your restaurant that have the added benefit of building positive brand value.
“Social video generates 12 times more shares than text and images combined.” – Source
By using video, you can promote new specials, feature your employees, give a “behind the scenes” look to your customers, offer cooking tutorials, or even do Q and A’s with your chef or cook.
One way to use video marketing for your restaurant is to go to Facebook Live as the average person spends three times more time watching a live video than one that isn’t live.
Influencers are people who have already done all the hard work and built a large following on social media. If you can identify relevant influencers then having them post about your restaurant can allow you to reach a large new audience.
For example, if you have a healthy foods restaurant you might find an Instagrammer who posts about fitness and health.
Often influencer marketing can be expensive and it can be hard to determine the ROI so unless you have a crystal clear strategy and a thorough understanding of your target market then this strategy might not be for you.
For a more cost-efficient solution, you could also leverage some of your already die-hard fans as “brand ambassadors”. Often they are more than happy to help promote your restaurant to their friends and family for nothing more than a discount or freebie.
Part 3. Increasing your reach and growing your audience
Encouraging engagements on social channels will help you increase your organic reach.
Take advantage of re-sharing customer content about your restaurant as it can build your social proof and brand awareness as more people will get exposed to your restaurant. It also allows you to share content that you did not have to create yourself, thereby making it easier to create a back-log of content that you can share on your social media profiles for later use.
Responding to reviews
Responding to customer queries in a timely manner and responding to both negative and positive reviews in a way that would portray your restaurant in good light.
Bad reviews can break a business. However, they are also important for restaurants to improve. It is important that you carefully monitor all channels and review sites to catch both the bad and the good reviews. And then respond to them.
Some bad reviews will be unfair, however, it’s important to respond to them positively. Take on board any feedback you get and always remember that reviews are a public forum.
“With 93% of social media advertisers using Facebook ads, it is by far the most popular form of social media advertising.” – Source
Sadly for businesses a few years ago Facebook altered their algorithm making it incredibly hard for businesses to reach new people and grow their audience organically. They did this for one simple reason – they wanted to encourage businesses to pay for advertisements. Thankfully for businesses, however, Facebook ads have incredibly rich targeting options. With Facebook ads you can geo-target, meaning only advertising to the people in your local area.
Putting a small regular budget behind paid ads on your chosen social media channels is an easy way to increase your reach and grow your audience. Once again, however, it is necessary to have a really clear understanding of what your objectives are and track your ROI to determine you aren’t simply throwing money away.
Promoting your channels
There are various ways restaurants, cafes and bars promote their channels. For example, use posters around your restaurants to encourage people follow and engage with your restaurant online.
Everything you do online hinges on your offline activity. So, while it’s definitely important to build your online presence and promoting your business through social media will inevitably lead to increased online orders and footfall if you don’t nail your restaurants offering it’s all for nought. This is why we suggest taking a very focused approach when it comes to your social media promotion. Don’t spread yourself too thin and don’t let online action distract you from running an amazing restaurant.
When it does come to running a successful social campaign there are three fundamentals which weave their way through everything you do.
First is the importance of having quality photography. Social media is largely a visual medium so make sure that everything you share is representative of the quality of your restaurant.
Second, social media is all about engagement. We’ve said that a few times in this article and we’re saying it again for a reason. The more engagement you get on a post the more people you will reach organically.
And finally, everything you do needs to be done consistently. Posting regularly is key to building up your following on any channel.
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Originally posted in 2017. Updated: December 2019 to include up to date hiring information and...