Social Media for Restaurants 101

Social Media is an excellent tool for restaurants to build brand awareness, create new customers, and engage with current customers.

Facebook alone reaches 2.2 billion active monthly users and influenced over half of consumer’s online and offline purchases in 2015. Social media platforms also offer valuable insights and analytics so you can measure the influence of your marketing efforts and help you plan for future campaigns. Diving headfirst into social media marketing can be intimidating, especially for small restaurants, but here are some social media basics to get you started.

Keep Your Content Engaging

Don’t get stuck in a rut when it comes to your content. Social Media is a great tool for letting your customers know about new menu items and events but it is more complex than just posting about your half-price wing special every single Tuesday. You want to keep your content fresh to not only gain new followers (and potential customers) but to keep the existing ones engaged with your content. The goal is to stay top of mind. You want your customers to remember the photo of the burger you posted when they’re thinking about where to go for lunch.

Shareable content is also important in building brand awareness on social media. Likes and comments are great, but when your consumers want to share your content, it gets your brand out to a whole new group of potential customers. Participating in trending memes and current events are a great way to get your followers to share your content. Posts like “tag a friend in the comments that you want to share these nachos with” can also get your content in front of more people.

Know Your Audience

When planning your social media strategy, it’s important to know your audience. You want to be aware of what social platforms they’re most active on and what content they engage with most. It’s valuable to stay relevant on all major platforms, but if you know your audience is most active on Instagram, you may want to spend more time on optimizing your Instagram posts or come up with new tactics to increase engagement on other platforms. Social media platforms offer excellent insights and analytics on who your audience is and where and when they’re most active.

Pay attention to what content your audience interacts with the most. If posts about your daily specials perform really well, but talking about trivia night performs poorly, edit your content strategy to include more posts that you know will perform well with your audience. One of our clients has a dog-friendly patio and we always get a lot of engagement on photos of dogs. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re going to exclusively post photos of adorable pups (as much as we would like to), but we know this content performs well so we include it frequently.

Be Social with Your Audience

The reason it’s called “social media” is because it is designed to be social. Don’t be a passive presence on your social channels; interact and engage with your consumers, especially if they engage with you. Whether it’s liking Facebook check-ins, retweeting relevant tweets, or liking and responding to comments, you want your audience to know you appreciate the time they take to engage with you. Sharing content posted by your customers (user generated content) is another great way to show your audience you appreciate their engagement and provides new content.

Three animated people with comment bubbles above their heads.

Engaging with consumers also includes responding to bad reviews and negative feedback. Responding properly to negative reviews shows other consumers that you actually care about your customer’s experience. It could also encourage a customer to return to your restaurant to give it another try. Always address the issue and personalize your response, don’t just have a blanket response to every bad review. Your customers want to feel like you’re listening to their specific problem. The most important part of handling negative reviews is getting them offline. Ask the user to send you a private message with the best way for you to reach out to them personally. Often times, they just want to feel heard.  Don’t think of social media as just a marketing tool, but also as a reputation management tool.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

One important thing to remember when it comes to social media is that it is not one size fits all. What works for one restaurant may not work for another. Social media platforms provide measurable results that are almost instant. This makes them great for testing new strategies because you can find out almost instantly if it is effective with your audience. Don’t be afraid to try new things and think outside of the box. You may find something that really resonates with your audience that wouldn’t with others.

These tips are just scratching the surface when it comes to all you can accomplish with social media marketing, but following them can help you maintain your social media presence, build your brand awareness, and improve your customer experience. If you would like to learn more about how to include social media in your restaurant’s marketing strategy or other benefits it can offer, click the “contact us” button below and send us an email.