These tools have provided users with hours of entertainment, distraction, as well as benefited businesses in more ways than one.
Social media has become essential for anyone with a Wi-Fi password. Not just for personal enjoyment, (humans spend a not-so-surprising average of 2 hours and 22 minutes on social media a day) but for business purposes as well. What would we do without Mark Zuckerberg and his creation of the King of social media, Facebook, or Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and their development of the world’s largest photo sharing website known as Instagram? These tools have provided users with hours of entertainment, distraction, as well as benefited businesses in more ways than one. Here’s why restaurateurs should be using social media to promote their restaurant and how.
Social media has evolved so much since the days when MySpace and Flickr occupied our computer screens. Now, it’s hard to imagine going anywhere and not seeing people taking selfies with their smartphones or “checking in” their location to share on their newsfeeds. It has taken over so much of our lives that some restaurants have banned the use of cell phones in their dining rooms to ensure that customers are getting the full experience while dining and not distracted by incoming messages and emails.
But when it comes to attracting customers to the restaurant, having a strong social media presence is key. Widely used sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat provides a platform for restaurateurs to post about new menu items or specials. Posting about the introduction of the restaurant’s Fall menu coupled with good-quality photos will send people’s mouths watering and encourage them to visit the eatery’s website. Businesses can also narrow down to attract their target audience by searching hashtags or specific groups that fit the clientele they are looking for. A vegan-focused café can publicize their opening by searching for Facebook groups compiled of users that love all things vegan, or incorporate hashtags like #veganlife or #NJvegans into Instagram and Twitter posts to spread the word. A restaurant’s social media pages will also become a direct source of interaction with customers as well. Customers will use these platforms to write reviews, feedback, or ask questions regarding hours and reservations. It is much easier to type a question regarding delivery hours instead of calling the restaurant on a busy night.
Before creating profiles on every social media site imaginable, below are some tips on how to make the most of these accounts. It may feel like more sites to maintain, but start with accounts that are easily manageable in the beginning. It’s better to have a really strong presence on one platform than a variety of them that only get a little bit of attention. (Tip: Facebook and Instagram are fan favorites, especially in the restaurant industry.)
1) Complete Profiles
Regardless whether the business is operating on five social media sites or one, it is important to ensure that all these profiles are as complete as possible. Guests often times visit a business’s social media accounts before their website to get the answer they are looking for. If they don’t find the answer immediately, they will go to another restaurant that will. Include the eatery’s hours, address, phone number and photos to all profiles so guests have access to all the basic information up front, then build from there.
2) Direct Communication
It was mentioned earlier that social media provides an opportunity to communicate with customers directly. Restaurateurs can answer all questions and learn what’s working and what’s not with customers to enhance their business. It is also a great way to stay connected with nearby businesses by commenting on their posts. Supporting local businesses is always beneficial regardless of what they are selling.
3) Visual Content
Remember how posting good-quality photos will have viewer’s stomach’s rumbling? Well, “good-quality” are the key words here. Set-up some mini photo shoots of menu items to regularly share on these pages. People like visuals and are more prone to stop on a post when scrolling down their news feeds if there is a juicy cheeseburger dominating the page. Also, photos are a great way to show people what the eatery offers, especially when trying to promote specials like Wednesday Wing Night or Taco Tuesday.
This is where social media efforts can take a turn. People often do well in the beginning updating their accounts, but sometimes the maintenance falls flat when they realize that it is a job in and of itself. It’s understandable. Running a restaurant involves a million other things to focus on that marketing sometimes goes on the backburner. One option is to hire a Social Media Coordinator to focus on the social media and marketing side of the business. Or create a content calendar that outlines which days to post and what the content should look like. Luckily, there are sites that allow scheduling posts in advance, or even setting aside a few hours a week to dedicate in front of the computer screen will go a long way.
Social media is a great tool to help a restaurant get exposure, and the good thing is, most of these sites are completely free to use. Use these tips to enhance each profile and customers will be running to the restaurant, probably with their phones in hand.
About the Author: Courtney Ciandella has been the sole Marketing liason for Bielat Santore & Company since 2013. She is also the conductor behind the Who’s Who in the Restaurant Industry and Restaurant Tip of the Month series.