When done correctly, the power of social media marketing can help take your restaurant business to the next level and expand your customer base. By understanding critical areas of social media marketing, a restaurant can maximize their efforts in increasing its online presence and business revenue. In addition to maintaining a company website, keeping up with the changing landscape across several different digital platforms, such as Facebook, Yelp, and Instagram can help any restaurant business grow.
Facebook Business Page
The easiest way to create an online presence is to create a Facebook page for your restaurant. Make sure to complete the Facebook profile as much as possible because Facebook and other search engines will rank your restaurant higher in search results due to keywords and your page content. A Facebook page will be a place for the restaurant to post announcements and photos and for customers to leave comments, pictures and reviews.
Having a page is the first step, but updating it regularly is the second. Ideally, you’d post your daily specials to bring people in, and take good-quality photos of your classic dishes. This space is also a great outlet for any special events or promotions your restaurant decides to have, since you can create an event page on Facebook and invite all those who “like” your restaurant. People will also be able to check in or tag your restaurant in their picture, which will tend expose your restaurant to their timeline. This is basically free advertising! Unless you pay to promote your Facebook page, simply running a Facebook page will help get the word out about your restaurant’s brand and encourage more people to visit.
For any restaurant, Yelp will be the most common place your business will be found. Although it is not commonly thought of as social media, Yelp is still a public forum and digital space for searches. As the owner of an eating establishment, you can take the time to respond to negative and positive comments that stand out to you. This makes people feel like their concerns are being heard, and may opt to give you a second chance. Or if they wrote you a glowing review, graciously thank them, and it is more than likely that they will keep coming back! Both actions help establish an authentic relationship with customers and make them feel personally connected to your business.
In terms of search engine optimization, Yelp and your Facebook Page will be close to the top. The search engine within the Yelp platform will use the content from the different paragraphs of “From the business” so fill it out as much as you can. You can also list your business up to three different categories on Yelp, which allows the business to be listed in more areas when searched. Being found through search results is just as important as personal referrals.
Another great way to showcase your restaurant’s food, decor, and atmosphere is through Instagram. Food is one of the most commonly posted subject posted on Instagram, with pizza at the number one spot followed by sushi and steak. Having an Instagram business account is a fundamentally a form of free advertising with unlimited space for photos and videos. By using hashtags to attract more followers and likes, this is a different type of exposure that benefits your restaurant brand. Just like Facebook, customers can add a location and/or tag your restaurant’s Instagram account in their post. Instagram now even has a contact option for business accounts so that customers can email or call the business directly.
If you follow some of your loyal customers back or those who tag your restaurant, they too will feel like they have a relationship with your restaurant, even if it is just on social media. This way, they will continue to advocate for your restaurant business and will keep your restaurant in mind when they travel to your city and turn to social media and search engines to find good places to eat.
Why Social Media?
To run a successful restaurant today, particularly nowadays that people are constantly connected to their favorite social media outlets and apps, your restaurant also needs to be connected to these outlets to reach as many people as possible. You simply cannot get by just with taking out a print ad in a local newspaper or magazine. While those are also good things to do, especially if you want to be nominated for any of their awards, it is not enough, as you are limiting yourself to only the pool of prospective customers who actually read this particular magazine and subscribe to it, or the odd chance that someone in a hair salon might pick it up while their waiting and find out about your restaurant that way.
Social media is a tool useful for solidifying your name and brand into the consumer’s minds, so when the time comes to dine or plan a party or corporate dinner, they will choose your restaurant. Restaurant marketing starts with a comprehensive restaurant marketing plan or restaurant concept, which today includes social media, customer loyalty programs and new technology to streamline operations.
David Mitroff, Ph.D., is a Restaurant Expert and Chief Consultant at Piedmont Avenue Consulting, Inc., (www.PiedmontAve.com) where he and his team create brand awareness, strengthen customer loyalty and generate new business by leveraging new technologies. Through his consulting, lectures, training’s and keynotes David Mitroff, Ph.D. (www.DavidMitroff.com) has educated more than 25,000 business owners. He is an Instructor for the University of California at Berkeley’s Internal Diplopia Business program and a Google Mentor for the Google Startup Launchpad Accelerator program. He has been a featured media expert for NBC, ABC, Forbes, Entrepreneur, San Francisco Business Times, Hospitality Technology, California Lawyer and more. To better serve the community he is an advisor for the Small Business Development Centers, a KIVA Zip Trustee and founded Professional Connector (www.ProfessionalConnector.com) which hosts over 50 business mixers and community events a year for the last 5 years.