In today’s digitally connected society, social media is a “must” for restaurants to connect with customers. Besides the fact that your customers are on social media looking for you, trying to connect with you or to tag you, it is also a great, free way to get your message out there and be present where your customers are.
Many restaurants start off strong on social media – they create their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts and Pinterest boards with great intentions. But then after a few weeks or months they run out of time, content, results or all three, and often times give up.
This is a problem – the only thing worse than not having a social presence is having a silent one. If you are on social media, customers expect a social interaction. If they ask a question, they expect an answer. If they compliment you, they expect a “thank you.” If they complain about you, an acknowledgement from you can go a long way to save the day. And if they look for you, having an outdated or incomplete profile or feed can raise questions about your presence, if you care about your customers and whether or not you are even open.
Fight the most common social media pitfalls and keep your presence up to date:
No Time to Post:
Managing social media can feel like a time warp if you let it get the best of you. Set aside a dedicated 30 minutes 4-5 mornings or afternoons each week (or whenever your off-peak time is) to schedule out posts via a social aggregator tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck, and to update your Pinterest boards and interact with others’ pins. This is also a good time to look through Instagram and find photos and users to interact with. Make a schedule and stick to – for example, M/TH schedule Twitter and Facebook, Tu/Fr/Su update Pinterest and search Instagram. This is also a good time to run a quick search for chatter about restaurant and dining decisions each day so you can jump in and suggest your restaurant.
Then set aside an additional 15 minutes once or twice every evening you are open (or during your restaurant’s peak time) to check in on Facebook and Twitter to monitor guest posts, answer current questions and/or to post some real time news and current happenings in your restaurant.
Don’t let your personal social media time intermingle, though, or you will soon lose that 30-60 minutes and then some. Schedule your work social media time and stick to it, and take care of your personal account maintenance on your personal time.
No Content Ideas:
Your social media content strategy should align with your overall marketing plan, objectives and target audience. A lot of that actually starts offline – look at your customers and ask yourself “Who dines in my restaurant, and why?” There is no silver bullet for content creation, as it will vary based on this answer. A fine dining restaurant specializing in wine pairings will have different targets and marketing tactics than a family restaurant specializing in building your own stir fry. And that family restaurant will have different targets and marketing tactics than a different family restaurant specializing in breakfast all day. Look at your customers and how they interact with your restaurant and that will start to shape how you want them to interact with your social media page.
That is a great starting point for inspiration. Then expand on it with photos, video clips, articles and general posts that are related. Tips, advice, questions, jokes, specials, promotions, community events, pop culture and current events can be shaped around that general audience need and theme.
Also, integrating your content across multiple platforms can give one piece of content a lot of legs on social media. Blog articles can be broken up into several different posts or pins linking back to the same place.
Not Seeing Any Results
Before you say that you aren’t getting any good results from your efforts, ask yourself what results you expected. Different objectives lead to different tactics, which lead to different ways to measure results. Driving customers to your restaurant is difficult to measure online and it takes a different approach than getting customers engaged with your page, though that is easier to measure that success online. Take a fresh look at your objectives and be sure to align your content as well as your expectations for results before crunching the numbers.
In any case, don’t let these obstacles get in the way of your restaurant’s social media success. Take a fresh look at your content, set aside some dedicated time each day, and then measure your results against that plan. If it’s not working, then try something else and measure it again. But don’t give up on social media – and don’t give your customers a reason to give up on your social media, either.
Contact Rewards Network to learn more ways you can increase your restaurant’s exposure and your customers’ engagement.