Your customers are on social media, so you'll need a presence there if you want them to come back. The trick is finding your advocates. User-generated content is a great way to promote your business.
If you’ve spent any time on social media lately, you’re probably already aware that there are an abundance of food pictures. Whether they cooked the food themselves or were served at a restaurant, people love sharing food pictures online.
That's because it’s a great way to connect with friends and celebrate a positive dining experience. It’s no wonder then why so many restaurants are trying to leverage their social media accounts for marketing. Food is an easy sell, and posting pictures is fast and fun.
However, Promoting your restaurant through social media requires a bit more than posting pictures of mouth-watering meals.
Restaurants large and small have been interested in the benefits of social media exposure for years. According to research conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 9 in 10 restaurateurs say social media is an important marketing tool and 95% of restaurateurs plan to maintain or establish a social media presence in the future.
That’s because a majority of the adult population uses at least one platform. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been growing in popularity since their inception. Today, at least 65% of U.S. adults use social media, up from just 7% in 2005.
Successfully promoting your restaurant through social media is a matter of finding your fans and turning them into advocates.
Choose the Right Platforms
Before social media can become a meaningful marketing tool, identify which platforms will work best. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are three of the most conducive platforms for restaurant marketing. They are also the most popular among consumers. However, Facebook is easily the most important because it has the most users.
All three offer restaurants a fast and fun way to generate a base of followers. They're also the best places to share photos and news about events.
Find Your Advocates
Your advocates are the fans of your restaurant who follow you fervently on social media, and advocates are 83% more likely to share information than the average user. Some of them may even be repeat customers, but not all of them have to be. To obtain advocates, you’ll need to generate a base of followers.
You can do this by posting images, video, and short pieces of content. Tell the world what makes your restaurant unique and fun. Don't try to grow your follower base by buying followers. The best tactic is promoting your restaurant through social media and growing organically.
Give them a glimpse into your culture to get users excited about visiting your restaurant.
Once you’ve got people hooked, advocates will appear. Advocates share, like, and comment on your posts. They get you more recognition and more local exposure. The key to obtaining and retaining advocates is similar to obtaining and retaining repeat customers: consistency.
By posting on a consistent basis and posting intelligently, you’ll stand a better chance of getting more likes and shares, more customers, and more testimonials on important review sites like Yelp.
Events and Promotions
Once you’ve generated a base of social media followers, you’ll be able to drive in more customers. Broadcast news about events, menu offerings, and other promotions. Facebook’s events function is particularly useful for publicizing events. In addition, you can track your number of attendees and provide information about event specifics.
Posting information about events on all of your social media accounts can help you get more attendees.
You can also post information about new promotions and menu items on social media to give people more reasons to come in and dine. If you have regular customers, they may be interested in your new options. According to a Cornell University study from 2013, 41% of restaurant respondents used Twitter for promotions, making it the most popular platform for promoting events and deals.
Social Media Management
Even if you’ve been at it for a while, you should treat it like any of your other business strategies. Promoting your restaurant through social media is fun and relatively free, but your accounts need to be managed effectively if you want to have the desired impact.
Generate and post content on a consistent basis. Some restaurants designate a team member as their social media manager, but effective social media management can take hours out of the work week.
It can also be difficult to track your ROI. In fact, 6 in 10 small business owners can’t track their social media ROI effectively. If you find that you’re struggling to keep up with your social media activities, you may want to consider outsourcing your efforts by enlisting a marketing team.
Social media experts can help you maintain your online presence and maximize exposure on your chosen social networks. They can also report your progress effectively so you always know what return you’re receiving for your investment.
Promoting your restaurant through social media is a worthwhile venture, especially for local restaurants and small chains that need to compete with industry giants. Social media allows you to expose your culture and generate your own niche of restaurant customers.
By engaging your audience and finding your advocates, you can use social media to get local exposure, drive in customers, and create genuine excitement about your restaurant’s events and promotional offers.