By Colby Black
Restaurants are often at the mercy of their reputation. Finding a good place to eat is often a group experience more than it is a personal preference, whether meeting a group of friends or taking the family out for a nice dinner.
In today’s world where a business’ reputation is accessible 24 hours a day, people are constantly looking up your business. In fact, with the integration of social media sites, a customer sees your restaurant’s star rating simply by looking up directions to your place of business.
Having the right tools and hiring the right company to manage your online reputation has become as common as any other standard operating procedure. It must be built into your business strategy with the same importance as hiring a manager to run your brick and mortar operations.
The evolution of smart phones and social media, as well as their progressive integrations, has continuously closed the communication gap between customer and business owner. Today there is over 1.19 billion users on Facebook, but even more impressive is the ever-growing number of Facebook users on mobile phones. In August of 2010, Facebook had 65 million people using its Facebook Mobile Application. Six months later they reported having 100 million and growing. As of April 2015, they have grown to 798 million active daily users.
That is close to a billion people on their phones, checking in at restaurants, sitting at tables, sharing their experiences, every day, of every week, 365 days a year. Let that sink in for a minute. What is a “billion people” Most people cannot even visualize what that means.
Our brains simply cannot process a number that big, which is why some business owners don’t understand the colossal mistake they make in ignoring the opportunity that social media marketing brought to their industry. Is just “knowing” really enough? Is just being “present” on Facebook, and twitter enough? The answer is “No.”
Much like your day to day physical operations, success online takes strategy and effective implementation. Here are 5 tips for successful restaurant social media marketing.
1. Grow Your Fanbase
This might seem obvious, and it is, but growing your fanbase is one of the first steps. Marketing doesn’t work, even with the most engaging content, if you are sitting there talking to yourself. In the beginning, the best ways to increase your fan base is to attract them on multiple fronts.
Facebook offers its own internal marketing solution that is perfectly fine using, especially in the beginning, to acquire targeted likes. Find a budget that works for you, and start growing your audience. (Start off broad, and then pay close attention to your insights. Find out who is engaging more with your posts and then adjust your targeted marketing to acquiring people more likely to engage with your posts.
Share content related to your industry that is already going viral and share it consistently. As you begin to show up in news feeds, people will not only like your posts, they will visit and like your page.
Visit your business page, with your personal page, and then share your posts. This will bypass Facebook’s algorithm that limits your business pages organic exposure.
Boost your posts with a small budget. (Usually around $3 for 3 days is fine)
Give your customers the opportunity to like you page during multiple interaction points by adding a call of action that allows your customers to like your Facebook, Twitter, etc. (E.g. Thumbs up buttons on your web page, in your emails, etc that will allow them to like your various social media pages etc.)You can also put up stickers on the front of your store letting people know that you are on these social media sites.
2. Interact With Your Fanbase
This might be one of the hardest things to do simply because it requires somebody’s time. Usually businesses delegate this responsibility to a professional person or team, depending on their size. Whoever you delegate this responsibility to, you want them to be vocal and to interact with your followers regularly. From a simple “thank you” to answering a question, you want your fans to know there is a “someone“ they are talking to on your Facebook page, and not just a billboard.
3. Have A Mission And Make It Apparent.
Do you use fresh ingredients? Do you visit a local farmers market for those ingredients? Communicate this to your fan base and get them involved. Chipotle is a great example of a restaurant using this strategy. They will create events for dates they will be visiting farmers’ markets and allow their customers to be involved.
They recently shared this post “We've achieved our goal of making all of the food at our US restaurants with only non-GMO ingredients.” Along with a great article explaining how they are taking the health of their customers seriously and effectively communicating their vision of becoming a healthy fast food option.
4. Create Conversations
By creating conversations on your social media pages, people will often visit your page multiple times. You can’t have a conversation if you aren’t there, right? In fact, people will often like your page so that they will receive notifications and so that they can easily find your business again. In addition to creating a great platform for interaction between you and your customer, you will also have a great vehicle for delivering promotional material that will increase revenue.
5. Create Hunger and Excitement
Visually stunning photographs of your organic ingredients or your freshly made dishes are great ways to get your potential customers thinking about food, and more importantly, YOUR food.
By: Colby Black
ReviewUs.com - Director of Operations