Where do you go when you’ve had a bad day or for a night out with friends or family? Chances are that you thought of either a restaurant or bar. Perhaps you thought of your favorite, or maybe you heard good things about a new location that you were thinking about trying. 88% of people are influenced by online reviews in regards to the food business. Not only that, food has become so ingrained within social media culture that the amount of #food #drink related hashtags reached a resounding 200 million posts in 2018 alone!
Social media allows you to interact and engage with your customers and will enable you to reach a wider audience. People are posting about you anyway whether you know about it or not. In the digital age we live in today, any restaurant owner should have a well set up social media platform.
The purpose of this post is to inform you in regards to the following:
- Why any restaurant owner needs to be on social media
- Choosing the right social media platform
- Engaging with your audience
- How to create posts
Why any Restaurant Owner Needs to be on Social Media
As mentioned previously, in this day and age, online reviews and presence matter a lot to consumers. Food establishments such as Starbucks have been able to successfully bring in new customers by merely promoting challenges, and encouraging retweets, hashtags, and tagging across a variety of social media channels. According to recent data, nearly 75% of people purchased a product because they saw it on social media. Of that percentage, 60.7% saw a post from the company 2-4 times before making the actual purchase.
Keep in mind that you are not the only restaurant or bar trying to attract customers. You will need to work twice as hard towards promoting your specials, discounts, and seasonal meals if you hope to attract and retain a good customer base.
Social media has many advantages; you can advertise and promote your newest menu items and provide online vouchers for customers. Doing this not only encourages customers to use the coupon and come into your business; more importantly, it allows you to track how many customers are visiting because of viewing online promotions. This provides an opportunity to gather more leads and can give insight into figuring out, which menu items may be more favored over others. Essentially, social media helps with brand image, customer outreach, providing incentives, and collecting data.
Choosing the right social media platform
Although social media platforms and strategies vary among businesses, there are some staple platforms every restaurant owner should consider using. These include:
Instagram allows you the opportunity to make a business profile instead of just a personal profile. There are a few key differences between the two types of profiles:
- Access to Instagram Insights
- Ability to add a contact button
- Your industry will appear in your profile
- Ability to add links in your Instagram Stories (profiles with 10,000+ followers only)
- Ability to advertise and make promoted posts
Instagram Insights gives you data that is essential to any business. It shows you your performance on Instagram over the last week – change in followers, number of posts, impressions, reach, profile views, website clicks, and email clicks. It also gives you detailed demographics of your followers such as gender, ages, locations by cities and countries, and when they are most active. All this data makes it easy for you to understand what works and doesn’t work in your profile.
Instagram Stories is a feature that comes with both the personal and business profile. It allows posting pictures and videos that could be happening live. This could also be used as a tool to promote posts and links (if your business has 10,000+ followers). There are also question and poll stickers that can be added to your stories that can, and SHOULD, be used. It provides more means for your customers to engage with your business and can even allow an opportunity to learn more about them.
While the business profile and personal profile offer different features, the end goal is the same, which is sharing images with an audience. Instagram is a fantastic tool for business, ESPECIALLY restaurants and bars, because it allows the opportunity to show customers what to expect should they choose to visit them. It’s important to remember that the quality of an image may also affect how a person may perceive your business. A bad quality photo may lead potential customers to think the same of the food and services.
Facebook is a very influential platform, according to a survey, 72% of people have used Facebook to decide what restaurant to eat at. This number alone shows just how impactful Facebook can be.
Similarly to Instagram, Facebook offers business pages. In fact, your business profiles on both of these social media platforms can be linked, making it easier to run them, should you decide to run them yourself.
Your bio on your profile should display vital information about your business, such as hours, address, messaging options, and best times to visit. Peak times will be especially helpful to those who may be unfamiliar with your establishment. Use this platform to share information about upcoming events, specials, and business updates.
Just as Instagram has Stories, Facebook has its own version of Stories. Both offer the same features, so again it’s important to take advantage of this feature.
The platform does not offer a business account option but still provides analytical data that any business would need to know. When making a Twitter handle for your business, keep in mind that Twitter allows only one account per email so you may have to have a separate email for your business.
Twitter is a great place to use #hashtags in. You can make a specific hashtag, or hashtags, for your bar or restaurant and use them in all of your tweets. Make sure that the hashtag is relevant to your business. For example, if you are a pizza restaurant, it would not make sense for your hashtag to be #yumburgers. If your company has a slogan, use it to make a hashtag. Remember to be creative and unique because you won’t be the only restaurant or bar out there trying to make a name for themselves.
Merely encouraging customers to retweet a voucher or new restaurant menu item can be a great way to spread the news about your food establishment through word of mouth. You could also run promotions that are exclusive to Twitter followers. For example, Tweet a special offer (drink specials, meal discounts, free app, etc.) that only Twitter followers can take part in. If they like the tweet, then they can show their server or bartender.
Snapchat has over 180 million active users, which is a large number of potential customers. It would be up to you to decide whether or not you would make an account. It may be difficult not only to post content followers would want to see but to gain followers as well. Even if your restaurant or bar had a large following, it would be difficult to know whether or not they are taking the time to look at your story.
There is although one crucial feature, that would be very beneficial for a restaurant and bar to use; a sponsored geofilter. A sponsored geofilter is a filter option that people using Snapchat can pick if they are close to your business. This can be beneficial if you are trying to spread the word on a new item or drink on your menu. If a customer posts a picture with your filter, they are essentially promoting your business to anyone who may be following and views their story. Many food chains, like Wendy’s and Taco Bell, use this feature without having an actual Snapchat account with much success.
Engaging with your audience
At the end of the day, your goal is to use social media to promote your restaurant or bar, gain new customers, and keep current ones. The biggest flaw for food businesses advertising on social media is that they are too blunt with promotions and don’t take the time to engage with their customers. Engagement posts focus the conversation on your customers. It is essential to take the time to interact with your customers, not only so they know you care, but so that you learn more about them. Therefore, the key is not so much promotion as it is ENGAGEMENT.
Here are just a few ideas to begin a conversation:
- Ask a question
- Solicit customer opinions on new products
- Incorporate user-generated content into your strategy
How to Create Posts
The food and drink industry has an advantage in social media. A picture of the perfect margarita or juicy burger can cause a mouth-watering reaction for your customer. Look no further than in your restaurant or bar for your content.
Food and drinks are a huge motivator so the better the picture, the better the chances the viewer will be motivated to stop by your place. Also, keep in mind that it would be better to promote posts at designated times. Posting about lunch specials after lunchtime would not be beneficial because, by the time people see it, lunch will be over.
With social media not only can you engage with your customers directly, but more importantly, you can showcase the delicious food an drink you have to offer. Ultimately, all social media does is give them that first appetizer, the main course is waiting for you in the restaurant.
At Sooner, Marketing Solutions, we don’t just create random posts and upload meaningless stories. Instead, we do the research and get inside the customers head. We do our best to make your restaurant stand out miles further than the rest through smart social media marketing strategies. So if you’re interested in taking your business to the next level, contact us today and let us tell your story.