How Restaurants Are Incorporating Social Media
Part 1: Social Media and Pinterest
As a restaurant owner/operator and/or chef, you want your customers to spread the word about how great their experience was, raving about the great food, drinks and specials, so that soon your restaurant begins to grow. Unfortunately, being a great chef or having a signature plate isn’t enough anymore. You must put in that extra effort (although we all know what crazy hours restaurateurs already work) and create a buzz through social media, which is, if you do it correctly and creatively, free and effective advertising. It’s now an imperative building block in any marketing and advertising plan, with customers taking advantage of loyalty and V.I.P. programs, contests, and engaging with owners and chefs. As Stacey Dahl says, “Guests are talking about your concept online through social media sites with or without you.”
Social Media Misunderstandings
Let’s say you have a Facebook and Twitter account, and you’ve had them for a few years, but you haven’t really seen any benefit from it due to the lack of ROI. But let’s be real for a second—how do you engage and interact with your audience online? Do you have a unique, creative spin on your business on your social media sites, or is your online presence just typical, ordinary, boring 9-5 stuff? Give your customers something that will make them want to come to your restaurant again and again, whether it be online contests, points they can redeem online for free appetizers, or VIP rewards. Social media is a relationship that will never be able to be shared with your unknown potential customers otherwise, so be sure to get it right the first time.
Perhaps you feel you just don’t have the right amount of time to spend to create that perfect blog, fan page, or Facebook page. Well, tough! You don’t have to build all of these sites all at once; just take it one step at a time, but commit at least an hour to working on one site daily. Perhaps you’re already working 80-90 hours a week and just don’t have an extra hour to fit into the day. There are companies you can hire to build these sites for you; just Google search it, and you’ll find several companies in your area that will come up with a great strategy to help you find the exact fit you need.
If you maintain a presence and interact with your audience on your sites, it will provide more exposure for your restaurant as well as increase your rankings on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. Every blog post you write, Facebook post, and Twitter post you write will increase your audience’s awareness and interest in what your restaurant and brand are all about, allowing you build customer loyalty and get the word out about your restaurant. The importance of using social media for your restaurant is really a no brainer—so no matter how much time you have each day, be sure to post quality information and interact with your audience. The results will be an increase in followers and growth in sales!
Pinterest—the New Kid on the Block
Although most people think of Facebook or Twitter when social media is discussed, a newer kid on the block is quickly coming up on their heels as the most-widely used site in the world—Pinterest. In March of 2012, it became the third largest social network in the United States. The website is similar to a virtual bulletin board; you find things on the Internet that you like and “pin” them onto your board. You can have several different boards with different areas of interest or themes, such as monthly specials, pinning images of your newly-created summer menu, and posting pictures of your staff preparing food. The concept is to find a vision shines that through the images to tell a story about your business.
With Pinterest, you can also browse the site and “re-pin” pinboards created by others, so you can discover how other restaurants are building their Pinterest boards and get inspiration on how they are showcasing their products and overall atmosphere.
Unfortunately, most people think of stay-at-home moms or crafty women when they think of Pinterest users, but many companies and businesses are beginning to notice the impact of Pinterest’s influence. In a recent survey, 21% of the people survey who had a Pinterest account actually purchased items that they found items on someone’s board. So, restaurants can, and must get on the bandwagon and join the Pinterest craze. But how do you get started? And what do you promote on your boards? Here are some tips to get your restaurant noticed and “Pin-teresting”:
Tips to Promote Your Restaurant on Pinterest
1. Pin Excellent Photos of Your Products and Amenities
Pinterest is a visually-intense social media website, so it is imperative that your photos not only catch users’ eye, but that the photos are of high quality. Avoid snapshots or poorly-edited photos; if your photos are poor, Pinterest users will regard your restaurant’s food and service as low quality.
2. Engage with Others.
When pinning content, be sure that’s it is creative enough that other users will want to comment, “like” it, and “re-pin” your content. The whole purpose of using Pinterest to promote your restaurant is to get your name out there so that it will encourage people to start talking about your food, your brand, about YOU. But don’t just let other users leave comments; you need to interact with them and reply as well. Thank users for re-pinning and liking your content; it will start a conversation around your board and launch growth.
3. Follow the Big Boys
This trend works well with Twitter; once you follow the large businesses in your field and they follow you back, other Twitter users get the message and usually start to follow you as well. Be sure to investigate who is “pinning” your content and follow them as well to see if they’ll follow you back, because most likely, they will.
4. Include a Short Bio
There is an “About” section on the Pinterest website, in which it is in your best interest to place a short bio about your restaurant that will have a brief description of what your restaurant is. It should include your website URL, address and phone number, as well as brief info about the surrounding community.
5. Link Your Pinterest Account to Other Social Media Sites
Be sure to link your account to your Facebook fan page, which will allow your fans to view items on your timeline, including all of the descriptions (and pricing, if showing food or specials). Also, remember to link your pictures back to your main website and your Twitter feed. Keep in mind though, that Twitter is not a visually-driven site, so you’ll have more luck linking your photos back to your Facebook than with Twitter. If you have a blog, be sure to use your highest-quality photos and include a URL link that will lead the user back to the specific blog to which the photo was used.
Social Media, including Pinterest, is free advertising, and an imperative building block of any restaurant’s marketing plan. By using these tips, any restaurant, be it large or small, can begin building value with social media campaigns.