Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay. And whether you know it or not, your restaurant already has a presence online. Your customers are talking about your business on at least one platform. They could be reviewing you on Yelp, posting pictures of your restaurant and dishes on Instagram, or checking in to your location on Facebook. Whatever it is they are doing, they are sharing information about your restaurant to their friends and followers. As a business owner, you would be remiss not to take advantage of that.
If utilized effectively, social media can help you advertise for free, increase traffic, add to your returning customers, and open a line of communication with your patrons. In this article, we will discuss how to get started marketing your restaurant on social media and how doing so will benefit you.
The first, most basic social media tool that you should be using on any platform is photo and video sharing. Many restaurants on social media right now are underestimating the usefulness of photos and videos, and are posting them sporadically at best. You should be sharing as many photos and videos of your food and your venue as you can. Taking any opportunity to show rather than tell will increase your chance of attracting your audience to your restaurant; a visual representation of your dishes lets them learn about what you are offering them in a more visceral way. It would also help to post photos or videos of other aspects of your restaurant, whether it is your chef, your crew, or the preparation of a special dish.
Another tool worth using is user-generated content. The best way to create a following is to engage your followers and encourage them to get involved. Not only will you get free advertisement out of this, but also your audience will feel more included and maybe even a little invested in your restaurant. A great example of getting user-generated content is asking followers to share photos of their favorite meals. They share these photos with your friends, while you share them with your followers.
A great way to incentivize user content and raise engagement is exclusive offers to only your social media followers. People love to feel like they are a part of something exclusive. Use that to your advantage by posting monthly contests or giveaways to your followers. Perhaps it could be a free appetizer for the best photo of your restaurant uploaded to Instagram, or a free entrée to the customer that has checked in the most on Facebook over the past month; the more creative you are, the better. Any reason to post and engage on a regular basis will be sure to create a buzz amongst your followers.
The best strategy to grow your restaurant through social media is to be active and engaging. Share photos and videos of your food, crew, and customers. Get your customers involved and encourage word of mouth marketing as much as possible. And stay on top of your customers’ reviews; bad reviews are out of your control but how you handle them is not. Getting started on social media can be daunting. However, once you do, it can become a truly powerful tool in marketing your restaurant and you will wish you had done it sooner.