Hootsuite reports that Twitter sees a 9 percent daily increase of users and Pew Research reports that 24 percent of American adults use the platform regularly. But people look more and more to the short, quick interactions the platform provides, so is it a useful tool for your restaurant? Given that 31 percent of users say that they are more likely to recall what they see on Twitter than online in general, yes. The key is to approach Twitter with a plan and understand how it can be useful.
Things restaurants need to know about Twitter
Twitter is one of the most fast-paced social media platforms out there. Thanks to the short messages and ability to tweet at businesses and people, users expect a timely reply and regular interaction (even if it isn’t with them). That means, out of all social media platforms, Twitter requires the most active attention from you.
“The average half-life of a tweet (its median lifespan) is 24 minutes vs. 90 minutes for a Facebook post. For Facebook, a post reaches 75% of its potential engagement in 5 hours. A median tweet reaches this 75% mark in less than 3 hours.”
While you can use tools to schedule tweets, it’s important that, at least during your operating hours, you be available to address questions and posts from people speaking to you.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to address every single tweet, but it does mean that you need to be actively engaging with your audience on Twitter. Thanks to the character limits, you can write a short reply to address a post without seeming to ignore the user. Interacting with your customers like this is going to leave a lasting impression, and in the end, benefit you and your restaurant.
Twitter is one of the most active platforms; so if you do choose to use it, you can’t leave it to work on its own. Keep an eye on mentions and tweets directed at you, either on Twitter or via a tool.
Make sure that your posts stick to your brand and marketing plan; once you establish yourself, you want your audience to have some idea of what to expect from your posts even as you maintain variety.
Build an audience specific to your restaurant; make sure you’re following and interacting with people relevant to your community and brand.
The cardinal rule of all social media — be social. Interact and engage with your followers and audience regularly to build customer and brand loyalty.
Finding your audience on Twitter
As with other social media, building and establishing your audience on Twitter is the key to your success on the platform. Use the hashtag system that Twitter provides to start finding people who are interested in restaurants like yours, and in your geographic location. Once you do, start a conversation with them, follow them, interact with their followers; establish yourself as a presence in that community. The best way to build a following — and your audience — is to be an active, engaged force in the Twitter community that best fits your restaurant.
That audience should include your customers; encourage them to find you on Twitter, and when they do, say hi. Make sure they know that you’re paying attention and appreciate them seeking you out. Establish yourself as approachable to help create a positive customer experience and improve your chances of building an audience — and gaining more customers.
Using Twitter for restaurant branding
Like most social media platforms, Twitter is best used for engaging with your customers. This means that you’ll be crafting on-brand responses, addressing customer comments and concerns, and generally creating a contact point between your business, your customers, and your potential customers.
How does that affect attracting new restaurant customers versus building a brand? Whether or not Twitter drives traffic through your restaurant door may not ever be quantifiable, meaning the majority of the work you do on Twitter should focus on your brand.
While you can provide marketing content on Twitter and advertise promotions, due to the vast demographics and the style of the platform, most of your posts should focus on establishing your restaurant’s reputation with the view of growing the business in the long-term rather than getting people through the door that day.
The cons of Twitter
Twitter can be a great tool and one you can use to encourage customers to interact and speak with you. But it does have two primary potential pitfalls. The first has to do with the system itself — there are intricacies around using an @username within your tweet, and to knowing when your posts will be public, visible just to those following you, or private between you and the person you’ve mentioned. Depending on the nature of your message, this could be crucial.
If you’re addressing customer issues, the best way to take a public conversation private is to reply saying you’d like to help them and then ask them to DM (direct message) you.
The second potential pitfall of Twitter has to do with a more general trend on the internet. Once you establish yourself, you’re bound to get some posts that are critical of your business (after all, no one’s perfect). Addressing these is, of course, a goal, but not all critical posts will be based on your business itself. Examples of this include accidentally saying something poorly or holding an event for a group that might have adversaries.
Thanks to Twitter’s open access and the ability for anyone to send messages to you, it’s not impossible that you might receive tweets attacking you or your restaurant (and not just a customer with a concern). Unfortunately, this is something that isn’t easy to fix. If you find yourself in such a situation, oftentimes your best course of action is going to be to disengage from that particular group or person (making use of the Block button might be called for) and focusing your efforts on your customers and the conversations you can address.
Despite some of its complexities, Twitter is a spectacular tool for interacting with your customers and audience. It allows you to have short, quick conversations that can establish your business as one that people want to speak with and visit. With some foresight, management, and attention, you can turn Twitter into a powerful tool for customer engagement.
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.