Although it has been around for a while, Social Media Marketing is still often overlooked by many restaurateurs. Many of the clients we work with worry that they do not have the resources (staff, time, or money) to be successful with Social Media Marketing, while others simply don’t see the benefit. After learning about the benefits, we find most of our clients find that they actually do have the resources. So let’s take a look at these advantages and some best practices for social media marketing for restaurants.
Customer journeys begin with awareness, and social media can play a big role in increasing awareness of your restaurant. These days, almost everyone is on at least one social network. For example, Facebook is now the largest digital community in the world, with over two billion users. For advertisers and marketers, social media is a gold mine for connecting audiences to businesses, services, and products. Here are some ways you can increase awareness.
Highly targeted, highly measurable ads
As a restaurant owner, you can run an ad on Facebook targeting specific age groups, geographic locations, interests, and other demographics. Restaurants can promote specials, launch new menu items, and promote their offerings in a meaningful and effective way to the audience who would be the most receptive to their messaging at the time. While Facebook may be the biggest player in the social media game, there are also advertising benefits for business owners on Yelp, Zomato, and other restaurant-specific platforms.
Organic Brand Building
While ads have the benefit of generating return immediately, developing a social media presence through organic efforts can have a lasting effect for your restaurant. By creating a consistent voice through posts, a defined tone, unique imagery, photography style, and messaging, your brand’s social media channel can become an extension of the guests’ experience. Like Gary Vaynerchuk famously coined in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, “all companies are media companies,” emphasizing that brand storytelling is at the heart of social media. By providing a consistent experience, whether it’s in the restaurant, or online, your efforts over time will help build brand loyalty.
Show Off Your Food, Or Encourage Others to Do So
The restaurant and foodie industry is quite fortunate because, on social media, they’ve become swept up in a phenomenon known as “food porn.” What started as some food-enthusiasts on Instagram taking photographs of their food at various restaurants, has now become one of the most popular types of user-generated content. In fact, it’s the 55th most used hashtag on Instagram, according to ShortStack. From a business owner’s perspective, what’s better than having your guests and customers create content based on your products and services, and sharing them with their audience? Here is where restaurant operators can share, engage with customers who produce content, and cross-pollinate with their own social media networks for the greatest benefit. In this way, you can create brand ambassadors – for free. There are always sponsorships and influencer marketing to pursue, of course. For some extra guidance on how to encourage your customers to Instagram your food, check out this great post by ezCater called Restaurant Marketing Ideas: 5 Ways to Create #InstagramReady Catering.
During the consideration stage, customers are considering whether or not your restaurant is worth going to. This is not a phase where you want to overwhelm people with calls-to-action or try to push a sale. Here are some tips to take into account while you create a situation that is inviting and appealing to your future customers.
Ensure that your social messaging is “on brand.” This means keeping your content high quality and attractive. It also means being consistent in your posting. Sparse posts could indicate a less than active restaurant, or even worse, a disorganized one.
Share the Experience
Social Media Marketing gives you an unprecedented opportunity to share your restaurant experience with others. Show off your establishment’s highlights. If you host special events, anniversaries or celebrations, show pictures and/or video from these events.
Keep an Eye on Your Brand
Even if people aren’t speaking to you on Social Media, there is a good chance they are speaking about you. Monitor your brand's mentions as it will be an immediate, clear-as-day indicator of whether or not your restaurant's brand is being perceived as your envisioned it.
During the preference phase, it is important to understand your customer and what preferences they have when making a final decision.
Keep an Eye on Your Competitors
How are you Competitors engaging their audience on Social Media? Are they highlighting preferences that you have overlooked?
The purchase stage is often viewed as the final one, because it's the time when a customer will make the leap and give you a chance. At that point in time, they are convinced that your goods and services are worth paying for. However, you should be thinking of this stage as one that will ensure that they want to come back, tell their friends, and build loyalty.
If you give your customers an excellent experience, make them feel welcome, and provide a high-quality service, they are more likely to become loyal fans. This isn't rocket science, but it's super important. Here are a few ways to keep your fans in the loop and to create touchpoints that will engage them to return. Here are a few simple ways to achieve this:
- Email newsletters
- Social media
- Sending them a special offer
- Thank you/ Birthday messages
- Just checking in with them
Regardless of what you choose to do, always show them that they're important, and they are remembered.
If you're doing phases 1-5 correctly (especially #5), then the answer is pretty straight forward. Creating advocates for your restaurant who happily endorse you to their friends and family will be dependent on the series of experiences they have with your brand.
It's been said that branding is what people say about you when you aren't in the room. Social media is a platform that allows you to directly monitor brand advocacy and determine if your restaurant is on the right path.
An extension of customer service
While many people might comment, or give a negative review of a restaurant in person and on-site, these days, it’s prevalent for a customer to express their pleasure or displeasure online. They may take to social media to give a rundown of their experience, making their comments visible to everyone else. Doesn’t sound very nice, right? Actually, it’s your opportunity to provide excellent customer service, show them you care, and hopefully turn a hater into a brand advocate! According to Brightlocal, 95% of unhappy customers return to your business if you can resolve their issue quickly and efficiently. Not only will it demonstrate your concerns regarding the customer's experience, but your response will also be visible to other people who follow the page. In other words, the public will have the ability to listen to the conversation and see that you made your best efforts to remedy the situation. For a detailed guide of all the online criticism you may expect as a restaurant owner or operator, please see our blog here.
Provide value to your audience
Social media is an opportunity for your restaurant to host contests, showcase employees, highlight company news, involvement with charities and community events, and bring the human element to your brand. Make sure your profiles are up to date, that you answer questions, and provide value to your customers. Developing your social media profiles will over time, give your restaurant creditability and will be a powerful extension of your business.
Social media can be a useful tool for gaining real-world business results, but to do so, you must understand how, when, and which tools to wield. At Absolute Marketing Solutions, we have experience launching award-winning social media campaigns for restaurants and elevating their brand message to their audiences. If you want to increase engagement with your audience, improve brand loyalty, and turn your critics into your advocates, contact the team at Absolute Marketing Solutions today. We can assess your social media marketing efforts to date, and provide a comprehensive strategy for your restaurant’s future. Fill out our form below and start working with us today.