With only 24 hours in a day, and seven days in a week, there is barely time to do everything you need to do as a busy restaurateur. It’s no wonder that so many of you say you simply don’t have time to concentrate on social media, especially when it comes to learning and managing new tools and channels that seem to change daily.
Here are five ways you can simplify your restaurant social media and concentrate on what you do best – run your restaurant.
1. Set aside dedicated time
Set aside a dedicated 15-30 minutes every morning and 15-30 minutes every evening to check in and manage your posts. Do it at the same time every day and know that is all you will be doing for that time. You can schedule out posts, check on analytics and be sure everything is in working order. If you are managing several different channels, choose a different one each day to concentrate on during one of these time periods while simply checking in on the others.
2. Don’t mix personal with business
In that 15-30 minutes twice each day, do not check your personal accounts. This is business. Don’t let it pull you in, or you’ll find you are losing far more than 15 minutes, which is why so many people think social media is such a time drain. It can be, so don’t let it be. Do your business and turn it off – use your personal time to look at your personal pages.
3. Be on alert the rest of the time
Just because you dedicate time twice a day to really pay attention to your social media, it doesn’t mean you can ignore it the rest of the day. Customers use it to ask questions or to give you feedback, and they expect an answer. Be sure you have alerts set up on your phone for the channels customers use for this – Facebook and Twitter – and respond to them in a timely manner. This alleviates you from having to check in during non-dedicated times but still know if something needs to be addressed right away. And remember the importance of timely photos on Instagram, it’s best to post as things are happening, not a day later, but it only takes a minute to do so. Remember: use your dedicated time to keep an eye on engagement opportunities and scheduling posts, but don’t ignore opportunities as they pop up throughout the day.
4. Use management tools
Logging into several different channels several times a day and knowing what to look for can be time-consuming. There are countless tools out there – free or with subscription fees for more options – that can help you manage your restaurant social media. Some of my favorites are Hootsuite for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn; and SproutSocial for Facebook, Twitter, Google+. The only way to know what works for you is to try these (or other options) and see what works for you, but in general these tools let you monitor your feeds, schedule posts in advance, and perform search queries. We also really like Iconosquare for Instagram – you can’t schedule in advance or post to Instagram anywhere other than the phone app, but you can track hashtags and mentions and easily engage with customers who are posting pictures of your restaurant to their account.
5. Ask for help
If it’s just not working for you, don’t give up – ask for help. These are important channels for engagement and they need attention to really work. I would caution assigning this to a current staff member, as they have a job to do already. In addition, there is a big difference between someone who understands social media channels and someone who understands marketing a restaurant. You can hire a dedicated person to run your social media marketing on a contract basis, or even hire someone on staff for ongoing management. Large agencies can be pricey and disconnected from your brand, but there are local options that know you and can be of great help.