When you’re first starting out, social media marketing for restaurants can seem like an overgrown forest — difficult to navigate and full of unseen obstacles.
You can use social media to expand your restaurant’s reach and grow your business if you plan thoughtfully. It’s good to remember that not every platform is a good fit for every restaurant and that it’s better to be using one platform effectively than many half-heartedly. A content calendar is an essential part of knowing how best to distribute your efforts, providing an indication of how many resources it may take.
Here are a few key points that will allow you to effectively leverage social media for your restaurant.
Why social media matters
In an age of tremendous information flow, with billions of web pages bombarding millions of users with information, you need to work hard to capture your desired audience’s attention. So how do you make sure that you not only get a piece of that attention, but that you also create meaningful interactions? It’s easier than you might think, and it all starts with what you choose to say.
Social media can be a direct line of communication with your restaurant customers. There are four key elements to effective social media for restaurant use: locality, attention grabbing, brand management, and responsiveness.
But what does all that mean? Let’s break it down.
To start with, locality just means that your posts focus on the people in your community or neighborhood. For example, if your restaurant is in New York, you don’t want to waste time and effort with posts centered around Los Angeles. It’s much more important to have some local followers — people who can actually come to your restaurant — than thousands of people from across the globe who know about your restaurant but can’t ever come.
A good way to start this is for you to follow people in your area who are popular, especially people who post often about food and culture.
Use hashtags to become part of the conversation about food, restaurants, and events in your community. If you frequent the local farmers market, post about it. Sponsor the Little League team? Post about it. Have a meal at another restaurant, or your mother’s house, that inspires next week’s specials? Post about it. At the same time, respond to other people’s posts and learn what is important to the people who are the most likely to come to your restaurant.
Use attention to your benefit
Attention grabbers work exactly as they sound, and in this case, you’re in luck. As a restaurateur, your food is the perfect, and necessary, addition to your social media posts. After all, your food is what attracts guests. So when you post, be sure to include a picture.
Pictures help break up the flood of text that flows past our screens every day, causing people to stop and pay attention. Attach a link to that picture, and the attention you’ve just caught will be directed to exactly what they’re interested in — where they can find that delicious-looking dish.
“…the sharper, brighter, more attractive the photo, the more likely it is to make a reader pay attention and want to know more.”
The key here is that you start with a social media content strategy; don’t just start posting without an idea of what you want to say or how you want it to fit in with your larger restaurant marketing strategy. Stay on-brand, be true to that brand, and bring the best of your restaurant to your social media audience.
For instance, if you’re known for your homemade biscuits, consider posting a behind-the-scenes peek at how they are made. Show your chefs getting inspired at the farm or fishmonger. Tell your restaurant’s story in a way that highlights the brand promise, the food, and the experience that will draw guests to you.
Be social on social media
And finally, responsiveness. You’re a busy restaurateur, running a business, trying to keep up with trends, and making sure everything is going well, right? Responding to comments on social media probably isn’t high on your priority list.
However, if your audience is interacting with you, you must be present with them. Social media is, after all, social.
If you’re a silent figure, quietly posting once in a while and never interacting with people, you’re much more likely to be forgotten. But if a customer posts on social media and you respond, your presence is tangible.
Some of the most successful brand accounts today — businesses like Merriam-Webster, Wendy’s, even Steak-Umm — all have something in common: they interact with their commenters and cement their place in their followers’ attention.
People near your restaurant will be the ones to visit it — speak to them.
Use your food
It’s what people are most likely to react to and talk about, so frame it in a shareable way.
Build social media into your marketing strategy and stay on-brand to present a consistent image that people can remember.
If you talk to people, those people will remember you. That’s as true in real life as it is online, and is a key step in using social media effectively.
Social media is a tool like any other. Sure, it might be a bit bigger and more complicated than some others, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
By curating your posts, staying consistent with your brand, and the above tips and tricks to gain and retain that oft-sought-after attention, you can leverage social media to help your business.
Target partners, investors, and staff.
Post events, menu features, and more.
Put your best face forward through incredible images.
Share your thoughts in bite-sized blurbs.
Promote your restaurant via ads on social media.
Rewards Network® does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.