Social media platforms, especially Facebook, have become an integral piece of today's marketing efforts for restaurants. More than 68 percent of Americans spend almost an hour per day on the site, causing Facebook to rank No. 3 among the most-visited websites globally.
The draw is even bigger among cellphone users, where 88 percent acknowledge accessing Facebook on their mobile devices. That means you have a HUGE opportunity to boost your business with a strong, consistent marketing presence on Facebook. It also means you're hurting your business if you are not doing so already.
Based on research by Hootsuite, the average American spends 58 minutes per day on Facebook. That’s almost an hour a day each day that your business has the chance to reach a potential customer. In fact, Hootsuite says the average Facebook user clicks on 8 ads per month. Analysts agree that images account for 75 to 90 percent of an ad's performance on Facebook, so you'll want to post attention-grabbing photos to trigger engagement.
Even for those with limited knowledge of the site, using Facebook is relatively simple and straightforward. Plus, there are major benefits. Among them:
Because Facebook friends typically know one another, there is a high degree of trust in the opinions they share. That makes Facebook a wonderful referral tool for your restaurant. In many cases, if one facebook "friend" speaks highly of your restaurant, a friend will second that motion even if he or she has yet to come through your doors.
You can build on that type of momentum. The easiest way to create free referrals is to have guests “check in” to your location from their Facebook app and like your page. Checking in to a location confirms that the user is at that physical location. Convincing a customer to "like" your page is a quick way to continue to engage with customers, as well as their friends, once they leave your restaurant.
To maximize the impact, use a call to action and give them a reason to do so. Example: “Like us on Facebook for exclusive discounts and to learn our daily specials!” By adopting this approach, being asked to "like" your page benefits them, as well as you.
Every restaurant has stretches of the day, as well as particular nights each week, when business slows down. Facebook is a great way to incentivize and bring in business to fill tables during those slow times.
Start by sharing a post for a half-price dessert or signature cocktail for a specific night or a particular time period. (This is a great way to find out which items on your menu bring customers back.) You can either provide a coupon code and ask guests to show the coupon on their phone or ask for a specific special by citing the deal they saw on Facebook.
While Facebook will never replace your restaurant’s website, it can house more information and is very easy to update. That makes it a great spot to store all of the important information about your restaurant -- location, phone number, hours, etc. -- in one easy-to-find, FREE location.
When you have specials or crowd-pleasing dishes you want to feature, take a photo and share it on Facebook to let everyone know. Load the info section with your phone number, email, and website. Facebook is also a great place to share favorable reviews, press clippings, videos, and other content that makes users feel like your restaurant is a thriving community and one they would like to experience.
Scheduling and updating your Facebook ads is a very simple process. You can have them start immediately or schedule them to start at a later date.
Here’s one way to use ad scheduling on Facebook:
Create a bunch of different ad campaigns for the entire year. Focus on high-profile days like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, New Year's Eve, and so on. Get the ideas out of your head and revisit your ads later on. You’ll save yourself time and free space in your brain for more marketing campaigns.
Ad campaigns are purchased two ways, as CPM (cost for one thousand impressions) or CPC (cost per click). As a Facebook Ad newbie, stick with CPC ads because they are the easiest to understand and track.
Here’s a little secret: Bid two cents over the lowest suggested bid. Once your ad campaign is running, check back every couple of hours to see if the bid price has changed for your campaign. In most cases, it will be lower than you are currently bidding so you can re-bid and run your campaign at a lower cost per click rate.
Be sure to set your budget at a comfortable level. There’s a big difference in spending $50 per day and $50 per month.
When you're ready to get started with Facebook marketing for your restaurant, here are two quick tips:
o Respond to Comments Quickly: As Ashley Tyson, a social media manager at 4Food, tells Mashable: “We never want to delete any negative reviews. No one expects a restaurant to be perfect." Instead, customers appreciate a genuine effort to fix any problems mentioned by customers on social media. It’s also important to treat all Facebook users equally rather than only focusing on people with a high number of Facebook friends.
o Enjoy a Place to Show Off: As Restaurant Den explains: “Facebook allows you to brag a little about your delicious meals, your ability to cater to the hungriest hoards, and even to showcase your amazing staff.”
Bottom line: Facebook is where you want to toot your own horn and show customers what you have to offer and how great it is. Use Facebook to share those things with your customers to get them coming back again and again.