In 2003, the world started on its path towards a new way of socializing, communicating, and doing business. That's because on August 1, 2003, Myspace came into the world. Of course, Myspace was only a fad, but social media certainly was not.
Now, social media is changing the way restaurants do business and interact with their customers.
Things have advanced from the time when social media users had only one platform to choose from:
- 2004 brought us Facebook.
- 2006 then gave us Twitter, tweets, and trending topics.
- 2010 saw the launch of Instagram and photo-centric social media.
- 2011 was the year of Snapchat, geotags, and eventually the 24-hour long "Story," which would later be added to Instagram and Facebook.
- In 2018, social video platform TikTok came to the US, and it's exploded in popularity in the last year.
It's been less than 15 years, but these social media sites have totally revolutionized the way restaurants interact with their guests, promote their brand, advertise, and even handle customer comments.
To the restaurateur who didn't grow up with a computer in their bedroom and a cell phone in their pocket, the very idea of social media being an essential part of managing a restaurant can be confusing. Hearing terms like hashtag, story, image filter, profile picture, trending topics, tweets, feed, timeline, and status update can make you just want to give up entirely.
But not only is social media management for your restaurant essential, it's totally doable, and it can actually be pretty fun! Let's take a look at five tips for executing the perfect social media strategy for your restaurant.
1. Be Visual
You can't expect to be noticed on social media without engaging visual content. Your visuals can be of anything that may interest or excite your customers - pictures of your food, your team, and your customers, or even behind-the-scenes videos of your chefs in action. People tend to buy with their eyes, and the same is true on social media. Users of these social sites will "buy" into your site and your brand if you show them something, not just tell them.
Take a look at this picture from Upper Crust Pizza's Instagram below. In the wake of the Pokémon GO phase, they posted a picture of a Poké Ball pizza on Instagram. Now that's clever marketing for the 75% of social media users who choose a restaurant after looking at images of food on social media.
2. Be Immediate
When your customers go to your social media page, a post from last week shouldn't be the first thing they see. Timely posts, like your special for the night, photos from a recent event, or announcing a limited-time discount just for your followers are smart ways to show you're always connected to your community. After all, how would you feel if you went on a restaurant’s social media page, saw a 20% off coupon code, but found out it expired last week?
3. Converse With Your Customers
Social media is a place for your customers to talk to you, and to talk about you. Make sure you're consistently checking these sites for mentions and comments, and reply to every single one of them. Getting a conversation started breaks down any perceived barriers between your restaurant and your customers, and will lead to more interactions in the future.
In this example, Dunkin Donuts provides an individualized and signed response to customer praise with their signature "DD" and a plug to their seasonal Pumpkin Swirl offering.
We're glaDD you love it! Have you tried it with Pumpkin Swirl yet?? ^GS— Dunkin' (@dunkindonuts) September 12, 2016
4. Post Generously
Now let's be clear - there is such a thing as posting too much. If one of your Twitter followers checks their timeline and sees 8 tweets in a row from you every time they log on, they may be a bit overwhelmed and decide to unfollow - and that's not a good thing! But the "less is more" mentality doesn't always apply to social media. Make sure you're posting at least 2-3 times a day on Twitter and Facebook and 4-5 times a week on Instagram for ideal exposure and engagement rates. Any less than that, and you risk not being noticed.
Your customers are on social media. Here's how restaurants are using social to bring in new customers and engage their current ones.
5. Mix Up Each Channel's Content
If you have a great picture to share or are announcing the biggest sale of your year, this obviously should be spread across all of your restaurant's social media sites. But recognize that some content is better for certain sites than others. For example, cropped and edited images work best on Instagram rather than Twitter. Copying and pasting the exact same message across all of your channels will limit the impact of your words and images for each site.
If the whole concept of social media is still a bit fuzzy for you - don't worry. You're not alone.
That's why we wrote this restaurant online branding guide Social Media For Restaurants: How to Manage Your Brand Online. It's chock-full of social media tips for your restaurant and the perfect posting strategies for Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. Plus, you'll see some all-star examples from businesses that are owning their social media presence. The guide is free and made specifically for restaurants.