Twitter Tips for Restaurants, Part 2 in 2-Part Series.
Now that you’ve decided to use Twitter for your restaurant, there are best practices, tips and tricks to the trade every restaurant should know before jumping in. It’s a simple medium but it can complicate your life if you don’t understand a few main points of how it works.
Here are a few of the many best practices when using Twitter for restaurants:
If you Are on Twitter, Be on Twitter
Today’s customer expects a response when they ask a question. The expectation of Twitter is that if you are on, then you are online. You don’t have to be attached to it 24/7, but during your restaurant’s operating hours your customers will expect an answer to any questions they may post. There are tons of tools to help you monitor the chatter, and you can even get alerts sent to your phone so you know exactly when someone mentioned you on Twitter. So be on and be smart about being on.
Use a Tool to Manage Your Account
I’ve had an active Twitter account for a couple of years now, but I’ve probably only logged onto Twitter a handful of times. I use a variety of other social media platforms to help me manage my accounts. Two that I’ve personally found effective are Hootsuite and Sprout Social. Both let you monitor mentions, track specific searches and schedule posts in advance. For beginners, I personally would recommend Hootsuite, where you can customize and see all these different feeds side by side. There are countless other platforms that do the same thing, this is just my personal experience, you can try several free tools before deciding what works best, but I definitely recommend a tool, it will make your life easier!
If You Schedule In Advance You Still Need to Be Present
Management tools let you schedule out posts in advance – this is an awesome feature for a busy business owner or marketing manager and you should definitely take advantage of this ability. You can schedule out posts about daily specials, promotions, events, menu items, etc. But do so judiciously – this isn’t meant for you to “set it and forget it.” The point of the medium is to interact with customers and respond to questions or mentions by them and to be timely and relevant. If you schedule out all of your posts and then never log in again, you are not using the medium as it’s meant to be used, and can actually do yourself more harm than good. You can push out messages on emails or advertisements, but social media is meant for engaging and interacting with customers as much as keeping them in the loop. Schedule out promotions and specials and general messages, but then actively tweet about current events, monitor and respond to guests and post current pictures as they are happening.
Use Hastags… Sparingly
Hashtags are used on Twitter to categorize what you are saying so other Tweeters can search by subjects, not just by companies or people. For instance, users can search #foodtrucks to find posts about food trucks without knowing individual trucks, or #wine #chicago to find wine related stories specific to Chicago. These help your content get found, but use them sparingly and only when appropriate. When every word in a Tweet is prefaced by “#” it loses its message, point and impact. There are differing opinions on this, my advice is to try to limit it to 2 in a Tweet (3 is also acceptable when necessary). Searching hashtags is also a great way to find relevant people to follow and to start conversations.
In the example above, some Tweets have used so many hashtags that it’s difficult to read the actual message, where others use them to support and categorize their message so it is still relevant to current followers as well as those who search by those specific hashtags. Use your best judgement and always think about your followers first.
Sometimes It’s Better to RT instead of ReTweet
If you like something you read – be it about your restaurant, your food, etc – and you want to share that post with your followers, you can Retweet it. Through Twitter, when you Retweet, the message will automatically go out to your followers on behalf of the original Tweeter. Tools like HootSuite allow you to Retweet in a different way. It posts the original message and credits the original Tweeter, but it comes from you. This method places the letters RT in front of the original note to indicate to your followers it is a Retweet, and credits the originator, but it comes from you.
The RT function also lets you add commentary to the original message. So, if someone Tweets they had a great time at your restaurant, you can RT it with the words “Thx, come back soon” in front of the post. It’s like replying and Retweeting all at once.
Try to Keep Tweets to 110-120 Characters or Less
Even though Twitter gives you 140 characters to spread the word, sometimes you want to give room for commentary if someone else RT’s your content. Look at the examples above. When this happens, there needs to be room for your username, the letters RT and a few characters left for followers to add commentary in addition to your original post.
Don’t Start a Tweet with “@username” If You Want All of Your Followers To See It
Twitter shows your messages differently if you are talking to someone or about someone by tagging them (i.e. using their @username). When you are talking to someone on Twitter, you usually start the Tweet with their tag/username (e.g. if you were having a conversation with me on Twitter, you would start the Tweet with @amarketinggeek). When you start a Tweet with an @username, only those who follow both you and that person you tagged will see this message in their home feed.
If you are talking about someone on Twitter, and want all of your followers to see your tweet in their home feed, put other words or characters in front of the @username (e.g. “Hey @amarketinggeek I loved your last article!”). Then anyone who follows you will see it in their home feed, even if they are not following the person you tagged.
If you need more information on this point and how your posts appear to followers check out this article.
Use a Link Shortening Tool
Did you know that there are tools that not only will shorten your links but will also let you track their click throughs? One of the most widely used is Bitly. You simply paste your link into their tool and it provides you with a shortened version that fits much better into a tweet (or a Facebook post) and also allows you to track clicks if you have an account. Most social media management tools come with a link shortening tool and some form of tracking. Test them out to see what works best for your needs.
These are just a few of the many Twitter Tips out there – comment here if you have any additional tips to add or if you have any questions. And be sure to refer back to Part 1 in the series: How to Use Twitter For Restaurants.