To make your restaurant a success, you must have a strong presence on social media platforms. There are many options out there, and we can help you pick the best combination for your restaurant.
If you are not already well-versed in social media, developing a strategy to market your restaurant on one of those platforms can seem daunting. But here is the bottom line: social media is not going away. It is going to become even more important for businesses in the future.
Pretty soon, there will be no generation divide between internet users and non-internet users. Everyone will have grown up using Google, rather than the Yellow Pages, to find information about potential restaurants in their area. While traditional advertising methods still work, now is the time to start getting really comfortable marketing your restaurant online and leveraging the power of social media to grow your business.
A classic mistake for newcomers to social media is believing you have to be everywhere at all at once. That is not true. No one can be an effective marketer simultaneously on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and others.
The truth is, you should focus on a handful of your favorite social media platforms with your marketing efforts. One of them needs to be Facebook. No other platform approaches the global giant's 2 billion users and cuts across all demographics. Try a couple of others as supplemental options and see which one is most effective at reaching your readers. Then, stick with it along with Facebook.
Staying active on social media makes users comfortable with your restaurant, even if they do not dine there regularly. It helps to build your personal brand. That is the type of loyalty and goodwill you seek in growing your restaurant.
Showing people your restaurant’s personal side—the faces behind the menu, the people cooking the meals, the story behind certain dinner specials, the charity fundraisers & donations to local youth teams —reminds people that your restaurant is more than just a place to eat. It’s a great place to hang out that is interesting, fun, and connected to the community.
In short, it's the perfect place to gather for special occasions or just grab a drink after work. Decide how you want your restaurant to be perceived and then start cultivating that image online as well as in your restaurant.
Social media is all about sharing. You want customers to connect with your restaurant by sharing specific information with them. What you share is up to you, but it needs to be consistent and it needs to enhance your restaurant's image.
One thing you must share is mouth-watering photos of your menu items to give customers a flavor of the experience -- and the flavors -- that await them as a diner. Other ideas that have merit:
Sharing more personal information, like your bartenders' favorite cocktail or your servers' favorite dessert, offers a sense of inclusion for customers. They’ll feel like they know your staff better and — by extension — your restaurant.
"Curate" is a fancy marketing buzzword that means to gather and organize information in one place. The simplest example of curating content for a restaurant social media plan is taking lots of photos of your menu items.
Ask your kitchen staff & bartenders to snap photos as they prepare food, serve birthday cake to diners, or prepare a signature cocktail. After they send them to you, pick out the best photos and store them in a central place like Google Drive or Dropbox. Then, you can easily share the photos on Facebook or Instagram at any time, without having to stop and take a new picture. Swap out the photos frequently to keep the images fresh.
Other curated content ideas are recipes — especially when they’re accompanied by a good quality photo — or a group shot of customers having fun in a holiday or festive setting. This is a good way to market your restaurant for catering or event hosting.
Google likes to see fresh content on your site to help it rank in local searches. Customers want to see fresh images as well. That is why you need to rotate your images periodically on social media accounts. If you're not willing to keep it fresh (or make sure someone else does so), you shouldn’t post at all.
With social media, inconsistent posting is worse than no posting. Consistent posting is key to a successful social media strategy. It will keep your restaurant at the forefront of customers' minds as they search for your next promotion or latest photos. It will also serve as a reminder to customers to stop by for a beer during happy hour, or that Tuesdays is 2-for-1 dinner specials.
Social media sites are busy places. You need to show up often in order to stand out from the crowd.
General guidelines for how many times you should post on social media in a day, as well as the best time of day to post include:
Facebook: One to two times a day between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Twitter: Five times a day between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays. Same goes for lunch, here as well. Twitter is the neediest social media platform, so if you are trying to minimize the amount of time you spend on your social media plan, you may want to skip it altogether.
Instagram: Once a day is good. Twice won’t hurt. Any more than that and you run the risk of being annoying.
Pinterest: Four to 10 times a day with weekends being the best time to post.
Sites like Hootsuite offer a free scheduling tool, so you can create posts weeks or months in advance. This is good for big events like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. However, with most of your posts featuring daily lunch & dinner specials, posting something fresh each day may work better. It will only take a few minutes if you have your curated content ready and waiting.
Social media isn’t hard, but it does require organization. Once you have your curated content ready, creating daily posts will only take a few minutes.