People are already talking about your restaurant on social media, regardless of whether you actually use it yourself. Your customers will be posting their thoughts on Facebook, photographing their food for Instagram, and possibly even sharing their experience on Snapchat. Although some are still trying to resist, this is something that simply can’t be ignored for a restaurant that wants to thrive in the modern world.
According to Nielsen, 92% of customers’ value recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising.
The first place I look when I’m researching local restaurants is social media. If you haven’t already established your online presence, there’s no time like the present so here are some of my top tips to help you spread the word about your restaurant.
Respond to your audience
This is an important place to start because, as I’ve mentioned, the likelihood is people are already talking about your restaurant. When a customer shares a photo on Instagram or leaves a review on Facebook, make sure you respond to it as soon as possible. Liking the post is a good start but I would recommend commenting, thanking them for their custom.
You may occasionally receive a negative comment from a customer which is often why restaurants are anxious about using social media. However, this is certainly not a case of ignorance is bliss – it’s much better if you are there to respond. Research has found that if you are able to resolve a complaint in the customer’s favour, they will visit you again 70% of the time.
As a bonus, you could also find that your customers share your response with their friends which only increases your audience and spreads the word further about your restaurant.
Share quality photos
There’s no excuse these days, with the quality of the cameras on smartphones, everyone is able to take a good quality photo that can be shared on social media. Far too often I see restaurants posting poorly lit and out of focus photos of food that don’t do them justice.
It’s always best to include people in your photos if possible. Show people appreciating your food or enjoying drinks in the bar with their friends to give potential customers a taste of what they are missing out on. Sharing images on social media is proven to increase engagement so as well as taking snaps on your phone, it may also be worth investing in a professional photography session.
Engage with other people
It’s not just restaurants that forget this, many businesses still miss the ‘social’ element of social media. If you want people to engage with your content, go out and engage with them and chances are they will reciprocate.
Connect with other local businesses on Twitter to start building your online community. You’ll then have a network of people that can share your posts and spread your messages with their own audiences. It’s also worth encouraging your customers to post about their experience, then you can share their posts on your profiles too. Seeing other people talking about a popular restaurant will make their friends want to visit too.
Share useful information
As I’ve mentioned, social media is the first place I turn when I’m researching local restaurants. Make sure that you provide useful information on your profiles to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to make a decision. Facebook allows you to add your opening hours, address, price range, and much more so utilise this, as well as the bio space provided on other platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
Also, use social media to break down any potential barriers and answer frequently asked questions. If you think people might be unsure about where to park, share some tips via social media to make sure this doesn’t put them off visiting you.
Offer exclusive deals
Social media has become very noisy over the last few years so you need to give your audience a reason to continue to follow you and engage with your posts. One way to do this is to offer exclusive deals that are only available to your social media followers. This could be a one-off promotion for 2 for 1 drinks, or it might be a weekly special that encourages people to check your Facebook page on a regular basis.
However, you don’t always have to offer a discount to keep your audience engaged. It might just be that your social media is where you share important news such as special events and menu updates so your audience is keen to follow you to make sure they stay up-to-date.
Don’t just talk about yourself
Again, this is a trap many businesses fall into. It can be tempting to just throw out sales messages to try and increase footfall but, honestly, less is more when it comes to social media. I usually recommend a ratio of 80:20 so 80% of the time you should share interesting and engaging posts and the remaining 20% can be promotional messages.
When it comes to the interesting and engaging posts, you could share a bit of background to a new dish on the menu, maybe a recipe suggestion, or highlight a specific ingredient. It’s also important to get your personality across, showing the faces behind your restaurant. Record a quick video to show your chefs in action or take a snap of the bar on a busy Friday night.
Utilise Facebook Advertising
Facebook is a hugely powerful marketing tool for restaurants. The likelihood is that the majority of your customers and potential customers are already using Facebook so you just need to make sure your messages reach them. A simple way to do this is to use Facebook Advertising.
Facebook ads allow you to target your messages to a very specific audience, based on location, age, interests, and much more. Use this to promote special offers and events, making sure you end with a call-to-action so people know what to do next – whether that be calling to book, or messaging for more information.
Take the leap
Getting started on social media can seem daunting but these tips will help you to start raising awareness, increasing referrals, and keeping your customers coming back. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how you can get the best results for your restaurant, please feel free to get in touch or tweet me @SocialSam.