You get it – you know your restaurant needs to be active on social media. Whether Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, these platforms are great (and free) tools for social media marketing for restaurants, allowing you to promote your business to an engaged consumer audience.
But it’s not just tech-savvy 20-somethings and teens using these sites today. People of all ages check out social media on a regular basis. In fact, statistics show that 74 percent of all adults online engage in at least one social media platform regularly. These are your current customers and your future guests!
Besides knowing what to post, it’s also crucial to know when to post it. What opportunities can you jump on and when should you step away from the keyboard? Below are a few dos and don’ts.
When to use social media marketing for restaurants…
If You’re Running a Holiday-Themed or Seasonal Special
Does your menu include some seasonal favorites during the winter months? How about squash or pumpkin soup around Thanksgiving? Does your restaurant have a prix fixe dinner-for-two menu scheduled for Valentine’s Day? Are you offering guests a decadent peppermint dessert in the days leading up to Christmas? Let the people know!
Sending out a friendly “Happy Holidays” message on Facebook or Twitter and mentioning your seasonal special is a great way to connect with your community while also promoting your menu. If your seasonal menu is online, include a link!
If You’re Going to Be at a Food Event
If your business is scheduled to be at an industry convention, local food festival, or community event — or hosting one yourself — make sure to spread the word to your social media followers. Posting about it a few days before, the day before, and then the morning of the event should suffice. If the event has a website where guests can find directions or check out an FAQ, make sure to include that link.
And when the event is over? Use Instagram or Pinterest to post your photos from the day (and then link to those posts on Facebook and Twitter). You don’t want to go overboard with a 100-image gallery after the fact, but uploading a few choice photos while thanking the folks that came out can be effective, especially if you can include photos of your food from the day!
If You Have Uploaded a New Blog Post
If your restaurant’s website includes a blog, you’ll definitely want to promote it on your social media accounts. Promoting your blog post won’t just encourage customers to visit that page, but also to visit your website as a whole.
If it makes sense for the topic, include a link in your blog post that goes to another part of the website. For instance, if you’re writing about your chef’s focus on Italian cuisine, you can link to your menu page. If you’re writing about preparing for an upcoming event, link to your event calendar page.
Any Other Specials or Discounts for the Day
Whether it’s Happy Hour specials or just the soup of the day, using social media to get the word out for day-of discounts can be the difference between hungry followers choosing you or your competitors.
It’s helpful to think of your social media posts as calling your customers to action (i.e. visiting your restaurant), but also as a service you’re providing to the public. After all, you’re letting them know about ways to save them money or letting them in on a great experience. Make sure whatever you post on social media is something guests will see as a benefit to them.
When not to use social media marketing for restaurants…
Anniversaries of Tragic Events
No one wants to see a company tweeting about Pearl Harbor, 9/11, or other anniversaries of tragic events. Because you are a business and your social media is used to promote that business, there are too many ways even heartfelt acknowledgements can come off as self-serving.
During Current Tragic Event
When it comes to natural disasters, shootings, and other tragic events happening in real time, tweeting or posting on Facebook about the event as it happens is a bad idea for businesses. In fact, it might be a good idea to just avoid promoting on social media for that day altogether, depending on the severity of the situation.
There are exceptions to this rule: if the tragedy is happening in your restaurant’s community, a short and respectful message of condolences is appropriate. If you are participating in a disaster relief effort and are reaching out for donations, using social media to get the word out could also be appropriate. The important thing to keep in mind is to be tactful and make it about the people affected by the disaster, not about your restaurant.
If You’ve Been Posting Too Much as It Is
How often do you promote your business on social media? While staying current and consistent with online engagement is key for business owners, there is such a thing as too much Facebooking. You don’t want to turn customers off by clogging up their feeds. They might even end up unfollowing your account in frustration!
If you’re unsure how much social media is too much, check out your competitors’ social media accounts. Do they have more followers than you? Do they have more followers engaging positively with them? If so, what’s their average time in between their posts? Copying your competitor’s social media schedule beat for beat isn’t a good idea, but seeing where they’ve succeeded can give you a better idea how you can appeal to your area.
If you have several posts to make but only one time during the day to post them, don’t post them all at once. Instead, consider using a social media scheduling app. They allow you to set up all your posts at the same time but schedule them to go online exactly when you need them to.
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