If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, eating out at restaurants may just be the most social thing we do in public. Everyday I am amazed at the number of restaurants from multi-unit locations to independent mom and pops, or restaurant SMBs that are NOT using Social Media. Don’t get me started on those that have set up profiles and walked away from possibly the most economical medium available to them. Can you say FAIL? If you aren’t going to stick with it, don’t do it at all.
If you are not taking advantage of social media as a restaurant, you must be out to lunch.
How many dollars are out there for the taking?
Americans will spend about $660 billion dining out this year, according to the National Restaurant Association’s forecast.
4 Simple Ingredients to Getting Started
1. Build Awareness – This is simple, if no one knows who you are, how do you generate more traffic?
2. Educate Your Audience – Once they know who you are (your name), share the type of food you serve and how your customers can use your concept. Are you a Lunch only concept, Special Occasion Dining or Family Friendly? This is about managing expectations.
3. Build Followers – The easiest way to get started is by following people who have checked-in, commented and shared visitations, photos and reviews for your restaurant brand. You’d be surprised how many restaurants aren’t aware that they already have followers and fans. Make sure to promote your profiles in-store, on traditional advertising, your website and on your menu.
4. Create a Relationship and Offer Value – Make friends with your customers, talk to them, ask for feedback and thank them for their patronage. Share content with them such as recipes, pictures and insight into your concept. Have your Chef, Bartender or Sommelier talk about new menu items, signature drinks or wines that you carry. Provide information that will be useful and worth reading.
When you are ready for a recipe that has more than 4 ingredients check out: 26 Tips to Getting Started with Social Media Marketing
Get Visual. We see food before we eat it, right? Once you establish profiles sharing images is an easy way to entice visitation and inform your target audience about what’s going on at your establishment.
Instagram and Pinterest are two popular image driven social networks to get you started. You might also want to look into Flickr, while you are busy taking pictures go ahead and post them on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Here’s a recipe on how to use images to drive traffic: Picture This… Drive Traffic To Your Restaurant
Content. What does content look like for a restaurant brand? Content is what you share with your audience. Ideas of what to share:
1. Your food and drinks
2. Where you source your ingredients
3. New menu items
4. Your restaurant’s decor (is it festive or relaxing?)
5. Daily and Seasonal Specials
6. What’s going on in the restaurant this week (live music, trivia, a meet up or a special event)
7. A simple invitation or enticement to come in and dine at your establishment today
Location, location and yes, location
This is the oldest saying in the book. It’s so old I am not even sure what book it was written in but the truth is location today is more about being found via location-based apps, geo-targeted search results and mobile marketing. If there is one thing you do please make sure you create listings for your restaurant(s), starting with Google Places is recommended. They are the number one search engine for a reason.
To Get you started use Daniel G Hebert’s article on How To Improve Local Search Marketing with Google Places
When you are ready to super-size your location-based marketing claim your Foursquare profile, check out Yelp and get on that network called Facebook with over a Billion members and their product called Facebook Nearby.
The Cherry on top of the Sundae
The best part of social media for restaurants is that your customers are all ready doing a lot of this for you. I would bet that more Foursquare locations have been claimed by diners than have been by the restaurant themselves. Check-ins, endorsements and images are flooding the internet daily by fans of your restaurant. Once you are active on social media you will be able to merchandise the social traffic into profit. All you have to do is get started, embrace the medium and join the conversation.