Using social media is one of the best ways for a restaurant to be spotted by the general public. Most owners have a limited budget, meaning they don't have an advertising budget. A strong marketing plan can lead your restaurant to success.
Marketing for restaurants requires a certain approach, if well-applied, can help with discovery, then to customer conversion. According to the National Restaurant Associations, there has been a steady increase of consumers dining out in the United States. Now more than ever, restaurants need to find ways to efficiently market themselves to maximize revenue.
If as a business owner you have yet to use social media, you're missing out on potential customers and revenue. However, you want to make sure you're on the right platforms and stick to a solid marketing plan. I'm going to break down the best social media platforms for restaurants and give some tips to get you started.
Facebook still holds the spot for one of the best platforms for businesses. A business Facebook page gives you a way to communicate with your target audience. Think of it as a free and ongoing focus group. You can use Facebook as a way to spread information, but you can also collect information about your customers through their participation.
A goal to aim for with your Facebook page is building a community with your customers. You do this by:
- Posting useful and relevant links
- Asking customers to contribute with comments (engagement)
- Hosting contests and promotions
- Providing a platform to leave reviews and feedback
- Offering incentives for participating on the page
If you can bring your customers together, you've developed a loyal following that will only continue to grow.
Facebook is also an effective way to direct traffic to your business website and blog. By having posts, links, and other important information on your Facebook page, you can also get an SEO boost. This helps you organically show up on google search results. In other words, free advertising!
With more than 2.2 billion active Facebook users, as of 2017, an increasing number of consumers are using the site to find products, services, and brands to solve their everyday problems. Facebook makes it easy for potential customers to find you, and then remember your brand. It's also an easy way to encourage word of mouth, which we all know is important to business success.
In the world of food bloggers and the endless amount of food pictures on Instagram, it's almost self explanatory why you need an Instagram for your restaurant. Instagram has 130 million active users per month, with over 45 million photo uploads per day. Do you really want to miss out on all those potential customers?
Instagram has two different profile options for users. The first is a regular page that almost everyone has. The other is a business page, which unlocks a variety of useful tools and features. As a restaurant, you'll want the Instagram business page.
Instagram runs a little different that a Facebook or Twitter page. The point isn't all about providing information and a platform for reviews. It's more about showing the aesthetic and eye-catching part of your restaurant. When a user is scrolling through Instagram, you only have seconds to catch their attention. This means running your Instagram page is going to take some serious thought and basic photography skills.
Jed Cartojano, marketing director of multi-location California ice cream shop Afters Ice Cream, stated that "We’ve understood the visual appeal of our ice cream, and that our dessert experience through our restaurant design needs to support that”. Their Instagram account has gained over 340,000 followers since their opening in 2014. He also says, "[A good Instagram photo is] something interesting that people have never seen before or something common that’s represented in a way that never has been done before".
Some businesses even make it a point to make their restaurants "Instagram-friendly". What this means is making your restaurant and food appealing enough to the eyes that is constitutes a picture posted to Instagram. You also want to make sure you're posting photos to your own page that reflect this image. Here is what Afters Ice Cream's Instagram page looks like:
After learning about the benefits of Facebook and Instagram, you might be wondering what Twitter has to offer. Twitter has more than 300 million active users. It's an excellent platform for small businesses to communicate with their customers. While the focus isn't on fancy photos, many businesses use Twitter to their advantage.
The common marketing goals for Twitter are:
- Generating leads
- Increasing brand awareness
- Building a customer support channel
- Building a community
You want to determine what your specific marketing goal because every restaurant is different. Some popular fast food chains use Twitter to gain popularity among the general public with their funny, yet snarky, tweets. Chipotle likes to create a sense of community by asking their customers questions to get them talking.
Their tweet gained almost 8,000 replies and gave them a chance to interact with their loyal customers.
Chipotle also uses Twitter to run promotions and deals. For a few weeks in June they were running a free burrito campaign. This is how they promoted it:
Take a look at what other restaurants (of all sizes) are doing with their Twitter accounts. Once you get comfortable and figure out your marketing strategy, the rest should come naturally.
Yelp is a little different than the rest of the social platforms because it's solely for reviews, and pretty simple. You can run ads to be promoted to other Yelp users, but these rates are very high. By having a Yelp page, your dedicating a space for your customers to be transparent about their experience at your restaurant.
The key to using Yelp to your advantage isn't necessarily all about getting five-star reviews every time. You should make it a priority to communicate with customers and turn bad experiences into good ones. Reply to every review and make each one personal.
Check out this Yelp Guide that I wrote to learn more —> Getting Started With Yelp
Now that you have a better understanding of which social media platforms to use and their benefits, you can get started. Aside from having social media for your business, you should also have a loyalty program in place. A loyalty program benefits your business in so many ways, and luckily there is a variety of affordable programs.
If you have any questions on which loyalty programs will make your restaurant a success, reach out and we'd be more than happy to help!