Well to start with, they use social media!
Secondly, they recognize that it’s about much more than Facebook.
Thirdly, they don’t just use it haphazardly and expect results.
And last of all, they use specific tactics for each individual social media site, follow a plan and have integrated it into their overall marketing and branding.
But before we get carried away, we’d like to let you in on an even bigger secret…
And it might surprise you.
Only a handful of restaurants are using social media to its full potential.
So it’s a really big opportunity for you.
Make that HUGE opportunity!
And the best part – you don’t need a big budget to pull off social media, you just need to know what to put your time into.
The reasons why social media is the perfect fit for the food and wine industry boil down to 4 key areas:
- Exposure. Get your brand in front of your existing and prospective customers
- Engagement. Create and nurture relationships, and encourage your fans to share with their friends
- Advocacy. Strengthen ties with existing customers and generate brand ambassadors
- Proof. It instantly links people with recommendations and plenty of social proof.
So how do you become a social media savvy restaurant?
Concentrate on the Social Media Top 4
Many restaurateurs can get overwhelmed by the prospect of using social media, not knowing where to start.
In the case of the hospitality industry, your top 4 options are:
It’s no surprise really that they’re all now centered around images – the business of food is so very visual.
Start with Facebook
This is still your first port of call for social media.
Simply because the vast majority your customers log on to Facebook multiple times a day.
You can share menu updates, events, social causes and what’s happening in your kitchen or behind the scenes. Not to mention asking questions and engaging your fans.
Facebook is great for:
- Conversations. It’s about generating two-way conversations, educating and story-telling.
- Photos. The most shared posts on Facebook are images, and what better way to entice people than with your most delicious dishes on display.
- Sharing. Build and army of loyal brand ambassadors who will market your wares for you.
- Exclusive offers and deals. Posting exclusive offers on your Facebook page can lead to immediate foot traffic.
Keep in mind:
- Be ready to respond. Facebook generates many 2-way conversations, so you need to be prepared to talk back!
- It’s not a popularity contest. There’s no point having a zillion fans if they have nothing to do with you. You want to connect with those who have a genuine affinity with your brand.
Tap into Twitter
With just 140 characters to use, Twitter is about quick commentaries.
It’s a great medium to showcase your brand’s personality and go behind the scenes via the owner or head chef.
Twitter is great for:
- Spreading the word. What makes Twitter so powerful is that tweets get read and shared at an amazing rate.
- Timely tweets. Your tweets go straight into your follower’s feeds so it’s perfect for time-sensitive specials and other news. Send them close to breakfast, lunch or tea!
- Promoting beyond your followers. Keep an eye on your best tweets and then pay to promote them to a larger, targeted audience.
Keep in mind:
- Include links. Whether it’s a link to your menu or another page on your site, it can give followers instant action to take.
- Geo-target your ads. If you pay to promote your tweets, make sure they’re geo-targeted because you want to reach the right people who are wanting to dine near you!
Integrate with Instagram
Capitalize on the social trend of Instagramming food and let your customers help with your marketing by jumping on board this super popular imagery sharing site.
The big tip – learn about and use hashtags because they’re huge on Instagram.
Instagram is great for:
- Displaying your wares. Use Instagram to post mouthwatering photos of your menu.
- Being on trend. Use trending hashtags to increase awareness of your Instagram profile and your restaurant.
- Hashtags are big on Instagram. You’ll just need to remember not to overuse them.
- Engaging with customers. Get your customers to upload their favourite photos of your menu items and link them together with a common hashtag (User Generated Content).
Keep in mind:
- Instagram can integrate seamlessly with Facebook. So you can use it in conjunction with your Facebook tactics, or separately (just remember to reply to comments – its not set and forget).
- Photo contests work a treat on Instagram. This motivates your customers to engage with you and builds customer loyalty.
Create a Pinterest Photo Paradise
To put it simply – Pinterest and your food are a match made in heaven!
What better way to let prospects check out your dishes than by feasting their eyes on numerous images of your menu items.
If you have a solid base of photos, or can create a gallery, then expanding onto Pinterest can be a clever way to attract new fans and grow your audience.
Pinterest is great for:
- Driving traffic back to your website. When you ‘pin’ an image, it will retain the URL of where it originated.
- Viral potential. A great pin can attract plenty of attention and the more people who re-pin your pins will only help to create more hype for your restaurant.
- Creating individual pin-boards. If you serve up different types of food, feature specialties or have other ways to separate your offering, you can create a collection of pin boards to make it easier for your audience to browse your menu items.
Keep in mind:
- Share your photos on other social media. Don’t just pin your photos, broadcast what you’ve done via Facebook and Twitter.
- SEO rules exist here too. Don’t’ forget to include keywords in your pinboards, tags and titles.
A few last tips:
- Plan. Those restaurants who are successful at the social media game don’t do it on a whim. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but fail to plan and…well you know.
- Know your restaurants brand style. Social media is a very personal style of marketing, in that your followers will often feel you’re talking directly to them. Make sure you know what voice you want to use and be consistent.
- Be inspired by the pros. Look around and see what other restaurants are doing. Take their lead.
- Get creative. There are so many ways to engage your fans on each of these sites and create subscriber only specials that will have them coming back for more!
- Use brand specific #hashtags.Hashtags make it easier to target a specific group of users; easier for your content to be found; easier for your content to reach a greater audience.
And finally, get excited!
Social media gives you so many different ways to connect with your existing customers and those who have never heard of you before.
And it makes it so much easier to make these connections.