If you are in any restaurant or coffee shop, just look around. You'll notice people on their smartphones, tablets, or laptops.
Being online and connected to social media is our new addiction. It’s said that the average American spends about 19% of their day, or around 4.7 hours, on some form of media.
That is very exciting for restaurants!
Yes, it is sad that we tend to spend more time looking at our phones than we do at real people. But the good news is that your restaurant has a very captived audience. They sit there waiting to be attracted to your social media posts. You just need to break away for the same old stuff you have been posting and break away from the crowd of mediocrity.
Here are 4 tips for taking your restaurant social media game to a higher level so you can start impressing your customers (and attracting plenty of new ones).
1. Go Live
If you really want to take your social media game to high levels you have to know two words: Live Stream.
As restaurant social media gets bigger and faster, you'll need to do more than make your posts attention-grabbing. You need to make them shareable! Live video streams are that vehicle to get your brand noticed. One big platform that's making a splash is Facebook Live.
Now, is going live a little scary? Of course. However, you need to make the leap if you want to stand out in your market. Here some easy tips to make that happen:
It doesn’t have to be perfect!
Video is more about being spontaneous and showing what goes on behind the scenes. While you’ll want to take more time when composing food pictures, for video you want a little more off the cuff. You could have a question ready that you want to ask your staff like, “Tell us why you love working at Joe’s Diner?” Then hit the button and go live!
Is it going to be perfect? Probably not! Is it going to be real? Definitely. Live streaming lets people share in what’s going on in real time and that is what people find appealing. If you're nervous about going totally live, you can go "semi-live" on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
Maybe live stream a cooking class or maybe a behind the scenes look at a menu planning session with the culinary team. Let people see the fun. Let them see the chaos. Let them be a part of the experience!
Use a call-to-action.
Get on the video feed and ask people to come on down and check it out for themselves. Too many social media posts are flat, in the sense they never ask for the guest to take action. If you have exceptional food and service, don’t be afraid to ask them to come on down and join you! These will also work up to 24 hours after posting if you use Snapchat and/or Instagram Stories.
With live stream video, you practically have a live channel to communicate with your guests. You can even name it to give it some credibility and get a nice following. Maybe there is a Chef’s Table Live stream in your future? Just make sure to stay with it and have broadcasts regularly. Nothing worse than getting people excited about something and then dropping the ball.
There is comfort is taking action. As the famous tag line from Nike goes…Just Do It! You have to jump in and get going. If your teenage kids can do it, so can you!
2. Better Photos Please
Smartphones users have increasing expectations for new features, and manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have delivered.
You can really take advantage of these to give pictures of your restaurant some real depth.
For example, the iPhone 7 has a portrait feature in the camera mode that allows you to focus close on a subject as it blurs the background to give more texture and contract. This allows you to really showcase the action of your restaurant. Try a close portrait of your chef during service with his team behind him. You capture the chef clearly and the movement of the team will be on the background giving it a real professional edge.
Remember that you want to frame the picture in a way that allows for the subject to be noticed - just like when you are designing a plate. The food you photograph does not have to be centered if you are looking at the overall composition of the picture.
Also, look at the colors on the plate. So many pictures on social media are basically monochromatic, and the colors just seem flat and lifeless. You want pictures that stimulate the senses and warrant a second look. A steak with roasted potatoes and brown Demi glacé are all too close in color for your eye really take notice. Thus, they usually get overlooked in social media streams very easily.
Use natural light when possible because it gives the best overall look to pictures. A dark dining room with fluorescent lighting might make great dinner atmosphere, but it tends to taint photos of food and people with a yellow hue. No thanks.
3. Post More
Now this might go against what some “social media experts” would say to do. However, you have to look at the vastness of the internet and understand that if you want to create a buzz about your restaurant you must stay at the top of mind on social media feeds. That means upping the number of posts you make a day.
The typical restaurant posts maybe once a day. That's like throwing a pebble in the ocean and thinking you are going to make a wave.
"Posting once a day on social media is like throwing a pebble in the ocean and thinking you'll make a wave."
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You need to tap into the true power that social media has by using the synergy of three platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you are not using all three and using them consistently, then go get a bucket full of pebbles are start throwing them into the ocean of social media. You will spend a lot of effort for very little results.
Also use a social media management tool like Buffer to help you analyze the data. You use your POS system to help you run a better and more profitable restaurant right? Of course you do. Why not use the data from a social media management tool to help you be more effective with when to post your social media?
Without social media management, you would be just guessing and hoping that what you are doing will work. Remember that hope is not a strategy.
Data will tell you when your posts get the most traction and views. Just like the data from your POS system, you take that information and create more things like that.
Don't be shocked when you see the data results. You might think that posting at 4pm is a great time to get people to know about your features for the night and then the data tells you that more people see your posts at 10:30pm! Adjust your restaurant's social media strategy and post things at night so that they can get more views and more likes.
Social media is not about making a sale. That needs to be repeated: social media is not about making a sale. It’s about keeping your brand top of mind.
You want to be seen as “the choice” in your market. Take a hint from the major brands that advertise on traditional formats like TV. Do you see only one Little Caesar’s Pizza ad a week? Oh no. That commercial gets into your subconscious until you are singing that tag line, “Pizza, Pizza” like a parrot!
Here is a good way to start: whatever you are posting now, double it!
4. Use Hashtags Religiously
The hashtag is used like a filing system for the internet. You need them attached to every post you have.
Three rules about hashtags:
- They have to be relevant
- They have to identify your brand
- Don't go crazy - too many hashtags just clutter up a post and make it seem like excessive ramblings.
Keep the hashtags controllable at up to three per post, or else you end up with a post like this.
"Make sure you swing by Donald's Pizzeria for dinner tonight! It's BOGO night - buy one large pizza, get another for just $5! #hashtag #restaurant #chef #dinner #eat #pizza #foodislife #Boston #myrestaurant #chefsname #beer #feature #wickedfood #whynot #getdownhere #DonaldsPizza #onemorehashtag"
See what I mean?
If possible, research your hashtags too. When you type in a hashtag in Twitter or Instagram, it will tell you how many times that hashtag has been used. You want at least one hashtag that is very popular so your post will be included in that search. Once you have one strong hashtag, you'll want to create a unique one for your brand. If you are a taco concept maybe something like #CarpeTaco to show off your passion to Seize the Taco!
The last hashtag should always be your brand name. Yes, your name is on the user account. However, you want to start building your name up on the internet as a searchable tag. That means every post gets your brand name.
Taking your social media game higher is easier when you raise the bar and make a commitment to push it beyond your comfort zone.
Playing it safe might be good for the average restaurant. Average restaurants don’t get noticed and don’t get buzz generated about them.
Social media is a powerful tool for restaurants that have the guts to tap into it and harness the power. You can make noise and be seen, or you can stay in the shadows with the majority. As it is with so many things in life, you have a choice. What are you prepared to do to get your restaurant noticed?