People love to post pictures of the stuff they eat and drink on social media. If you’re a restaurant owner, you should be aware of this and embrace all the free promotion that is coming your way. But in order to achieve the maximum customer conversion, you need to be up to speed with those social media marketing strategies that work best with restaurants in 2018.
While some types of businesses can still get away without an online presence, restaurants are certainly not among them. In fact, failing to maintain a strong social media presence will make you lose more than 30% of potential customers.
The end goal is to make sure that your guests are posting, tweeting and Instagramming about whatever it is you serve. Keep in mind that almost 90% of social media users are influenced by online reviews and comments. With these numbers in mind, can your restaurant really afford to appear weak on social media?
Promoting a small business online can be confusing if you don’t know where to start. But setting the other aspects aside, building a strong social media strategy for your restaurant can go a long way in bringing more customers to your restaurant.
If you’re unsure of what’s missing from your social media marketing mix, here’s a list of essentials strategies that will increase the customer awareness about your restaurant.
Make sure the important stuff is easy to see
This might seem obvious but you’ll be surprised at the number of small restaurant owners that get this wrong. The trick to optimizing your restaurant’s social media profiles lies in the number of clicks that the user needs to find relevant information about your restaurant. The fewer the click, the better the end result.
With this in mind, use Facebook Pages to input all the relevant information – address, opening hours, popular dishes, and so on. You can also use the service to replace the call-to-action button to a Book Now button.
If you have multiple locations, make sure your Facebook page reflects that by adding all the addresses. The main benefit of this is that Facebook will recommend the closest location to a potential customer that is searching for your brand.
Once your Facebook page checks out, make sure the Instagram account is just as solid. If you have multiple locations, it might be worth it to squeeze them all into the bio section. Another popular approach is to use a mention your signature dish in the Instagram bio.
Don’t come off as too salesy
A common mistake that a lot of restaurants make is to abuse promotional posts. While this might work for a while, eventually it triggers a boomerang effect that will annoy your customers to the point where they will avoid setting foot in your establishment.
To avoid this, start being sneaky with your promotional posts. Instead of posting a plain picture with a discount or a new dish that recently became available, get creative about it. Whatever you do, worry about making it visually attractive first and then do the product placement.
Determine the optimal posting schedule and stick to it
The best times to post on social media is highly dependend on your clientele. If most of your customers step foot in your restaurant to eat lunch, posting at 9 P.M will hardly make any difference in sales.
With this in mind, take some time to analyze your restaurant traffic and figure out the best hours for reaching your customers on social media. Oh, and try to work with time ranges instead of specific hours.
Altough there are studies that show the hours that will produce the best engagement, the results are of very tied to your particular clientele behavior.
Work with micro influencers
Influencers are getting increasingly more important in today’s business world – especially since the organic reach of Facebook business pages has gone down immensely.
Finding the right influencer for your restaurant is arguably easier than for other business niches. Hunt down local lifestyle and food bloggers and invite them over for a free meal. That’s usually enough to get them talking about your dishes.
As explained in the video below, food influencers are really shaping how most restaurants are doing business. It’s up to you to capitalize on this opportunity!
Respond to good and bad reviews
You probably saw a lot of big businesses that are responding to almost every online comment about their services/products on social media. Ever wondered why they bother to do this? It’s all about maintaining a positive business persona on social media.
Transparency is a valuable commodity on social media, there’s no question about it. People will trust you more if you address both the positive and the negative reviews. By thanking your customers for their review and making a public plead that the unsatisfactory aspects will be improved, you’ll manage to turn quite a few foes into friends. This ultimately leads to more customers coming to your restaurant.
Not to mention that replying to the bad reviews will discourage a lot of unhappy users from leaving other bad reviews since they run the risk of getting a reasonable response.
If you’re not always sure on what to say to good and bad customers reviews, follow Vendasta‘s video to learn a 4-step formula that will get you out of a lot of sticky situations:
Share customer-generated content
Social proof is of the biggest things that can happen to your restaurant. The active part of social media (the ones that are posting regularly) would kill for a chance to be featured on a brand’s social media page. Give them that chance!
By constantly sharing customer photos from your restaurant or with the served dishes you’ll end up turning a lot of casual eaters into veritable brand ambassadors. Every type of marketing is good marketing – especially if it’s free!
Use video content as much as possible
Video marketing is extremely efficient and social media is the perfect catalyst for viral videos. Since they generate much more engagement than a normal photo, videos are perfect for showing “behind the scenes”-type videos that will help portray your restaurant as a friendly brand.
Your customer engagement will definitely receive a boost if you keep a steady rate of about one video post per week. If you have the creativity for it, you can also create GIFs to keep things fun between your restaurant and your audience.
— Pizza Pilgrims (@pizzapilgrims) December 13, 2017
But don’t be tempted to go over your budget to produce professional-looking video content. Social media users are big fans of raw footage, so don’t be afraid to use your phone’s camera to produce your marketing videos.
Reward your social followers
Speaking of social proof, you can encourage your social media followers to spread the word about your restaurant by enticing them with different rewards. You can do this by offering discount coupons or complementary dishes to those brave enough to use your restaurant’s hashtag or to share your post.
Rewarding your social audience for talking about your business will inevitably attract more customers. Don’t believe those so-called “marketing experts” that are claiming coupon marketing is dead. That’s not true.
If you’re out of ideas, here are a few more tactics that you can use to reward your social followers.
Photo contests are pretty popular on Instagram, and for good reason. They have the effect of motivating customers to engage with your restaurant and your items.
You can entice your loyal customers to get involved via free meals and gift cards. Here are a few more tips to help you put together a successful Instagram contest.
Bring your employees forward
Showing off your dedicated staff will portray your business as a fun restaurant with great customer service. From time to time, snap a photo with one or more of your staff members while they’re doing their job. It could be anyone from your chef to the waitresses.
This might seem like an insignificant thing, but people unconsciously appreciate establishments that value their staff. Regular PR attempts of this kind will make your social media followers feel more connected to your restaurant.
Encourage interactions via questions and pools
Social media pools and questions are a great way to encourage customer interaction. The key here is to add a little fun to the mix. Customers love the idea of being involved and your regulars will appreciate any decisions that are backed by the popular opinion.
Twitter and Facebook are great platforms to create pools capable of triggering engagement. You can also create “fill in the blank” type questions to encourage people to get involved in the comment section.
Jump on every “newsjack” opportunity
Don’t be afraid to use current events to gain a marketing advantage for your restaurant. Finding exposure for your brand is getting tougher on social media, but you can make your ordeal easier by using newsjacking.
Our new friends in Laguna Niguel, CA that chose to wait in line for a free Blaze pizza instead of a new iPhone. pic.twitter.com/arLTk02JWf
— Blaze Pizza (@BlazePizza) September 20, 2014
If you haven’t figured it out by now, newsjacking is the practice of taking advantage of hot topics to drive attention towards your brand. It’s a great inbound marketing campaign, but will only produce the right results if you have a clever approach to the topic.
Use Geo-targeting for your paid ads
If you’re using paid ads as a marketing strategy to drive more customers towards your restaurant, geo-targeting is an absolute must. Most social media networks have location-based advertising capabilities for their paid ads, but Facebook does it a little better.
It’s a lot more efficient to specifically target the people in your particular geographic location. If you know your target audience, you can tweak the ideal customer persona even further by going for specific likes and interests.
Watch the video below for some enlighting statistics on the efficiency of geo-targeting in the restaurant industry: