Among social media platforms, Facebook is the largest and most influential when it comes to promoting your restaurant and helping it to grow. With more than a billion users around the globe, Facebook is the mightiest social media platform for business promotion. It can be particularly useful for restaurant owners.
Restaurants use Facebook to connect with customers and increase sales through video streaming, photos, list building, targeted advertising, and other practices. Social media is all about making people feel special and connected with your business. You want them to like you, trust you, and -- most important -- buy your products or services.
For a restaurant, effectively using Facebook and its newer features like live streaming and photo editing can help build a strong online brand. In turn, that will attract customers and increase sales. Facebook drives traffic to a restaurant's website, where customers can make reservations, buy merchandise, or learn about catering and delivery services.
One of the biggest advantages of social media is its low cost. It's not entirely free because it requires time to do it right, and that is a valuable commodity for any restaurant owner. When done properly, social media is a low-cost way to grow your business and build a successful online presence.
Facebook, in particular, is the social media platform you must master to maximize your business' success. Here are five ways for a restaurant to leverage Facebook and build a business:
Facebook Live allows users to stream live video on their Facebook page. That makes it a savvy marketing tool for small business owners.
The possibilities for restaurants include cooking demonstrations, virtual tours of the dining room, meet-the-staff interviews, live streaming of events, and other promotions. You can stream your sous chef making one of his signature dishes, or focus on your best bartender explaining how to mix the perfect martini.
Possible holiday connections include streaming your St. Patrick’s Day celebration or New Year’s Eve bash to show how fun and inviting your restaurant is. Videos are the ultimate 'show, don't tell' advertisement.
Taking a cue from Instagram, another fresh wrinkle for Facebook is the photo editor feature. Users can upload photos directly from their phone and edit them on Facebook. It offers the ability to crop photos, add filters, or insert stickers, text, and doodles.
You can take photos of your food, add funny quotes to photos of staff, or make your own restaurant memes. Sharing fun, interesting and entertaining photos is an easy way to keep your audience engaged and your diners coming back for more.
Photos are essential for successful Facebook marketing. People simply do not read posts unless there are photos attached to them. Every Facebook post you publish should have a good quality photo included.
You can also ask your restaurant staff to take photos and send them to you. This includes lunch and dinner specials, drinks specials, photos of your dining room or bar, pictures of your sign, outdoor eating areas, etc. By having a library of photos available, you (or your designated social media person) can write posts in batches and schedule them to be posted over time.
Any digital media expert will tell you it's all about your email list. Establishing an email list is one of the best ways to market directly to your customers.
Offering a signup button (also known as a call-to-action) on your business Facebook Page encourages customers to subscribe to your newsletter, join a discount club, or take advantage of some other promotion. Regardless of the hook, the idea is to capture email addresses for direct marketing purposes.
For example, Olive Garden's call-to-action takes you to a landing page for their newsletter. By signing up, you become the first to know about upcoming menu specials. Even if you don't have an email newsletter set up, you can still start collecting email addresses. MailChimp offers a free email service that is easy to integrate with websites and Facebook.
Social media is all about conversations. You want your customers talking about your restaurant and sharing good stories about their dining experiences with your staff. In every Facebook post, you should ask customers to do something or share something.
For example, if you post a photo of today's featured sandwich, ask customers, "White or wheat?" or even, "What's your favorite type of sandwich?" People love to feel included in the conversation and they love to share their opinion. But unless you ask them the question, they won't say anything.
Creating an effective website allows you to show off the best features of your business away from the hustle and bustle of social media sites, where there is a lot of noise and competition. But can use social media to draw them to your site. Here's how:
Encourage your customers to click on a Facebook link that brings them to your website. Once they arrive at your website, they can see things like photos of your dining room, a calendar of events, and a downloadable menu. There should also be options to make a reservation, buy gift cards online, or purchase other restaurant merchandise. Remember, your website should be MUCH more than just a contact page. It's also an e-commerce site!
With so many social media marketing sites available, it is wise to create a presence for your restaurant on each of them. Become active on Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and other platforms to build a strong digital brand. But remember that Facebook can be a one-stop shop for the busy restaurant owner. Focus the brunt of your social media efforts there because it is the only social media site on the planet with more than a billion users.