Social media is such a part of today’s society–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube. As a restaurant owner, you may find the concept of social media overwhelming and while many resources encourage businesses to create strategies and business plans, restaurants don’t necessarily have time for that. It’s all about serving the customer.
Instead of avoiding social media all together, or taking time out of your busy schedule to create a plan your staff might not even be able to follow, here are some ideas to start or ramp up your current social media efforts.
1. Share Information Customers Want To Know
Social media is powerful because it is more personable and includes so many other elements that can’t be used in traditional advertising. Share what items are on the menu and/or what your specials are that day. Even if that’s all your restaurant posts, it is something that can be done across most platforms:
Facebook and Google+: Image of food with full details on special
Twitter: Image of food with caption (only 140 characters are allowed so just pull what’s the most important)
Instagram: Photograph a menu or sign covering that day’s specials
Vine: Take a video snippet of the menu and then of the food
2. Use Images To Your Advantage
Words can sell a menu item. But you know what’s even more powerful? A picture. Post photographs across all platforms of your amazing dishes that will entice them in. Yes, it might take a minute to set up the area. Basically just don’t take a photo in a messy area. Walk over to a cleaner spot to snap your photo.
3. But Do Use Words
You can take a picture of an amazing dish, but definitely take advantage of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to talk a little bit more. What are the specials? How much do they cost? What are customer favorites? Are there any events going on to promote?
4. No Time? Yes There Is.
Posts don’t necessarily have to be made in real time. There are social media tools out there to help you schedule ahead such as Facebook’s scheduler, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, etc., so you can prepare posts to hit customers throughout the day.
5. Let Customers Promote Your Restaurant
Let your customers be your advocates. Run a contest, for instance on Twitter, that uses a hashtag to encourages customers to share something they love about your restaurant with others. Choose a winner at random and reward them with a free meal.
6. Be Real–Show Behind The Scenes
Instagram and Vine are great for short videos. Use these to give your customers an inside look of your restaurant, whether it’s a brief video of a chef preparing a dish, or a mix of shots from the kitchen to the dining room. If you’ve never used either of these social media platforms before, they make it incredibly easy to shoot the video on your smartphone. Download the apps and check it out!
7. Share General Tips and Knowledge
People use social media to learn, whether it’s mindless reading or to educate themselves on a certain topic, place, etc. Why not give them something? Building relationships will entrust a bond between your restaurant and that customer. So for instance, share a cooking tip, or advice on food safety that can apply to their home life.
8. Be Funny (If You’re Funny)
If you or someone at your restaurant that can post is funny–be funny! Obviously make sure it is appropriate because what you post on social media speaks for your brand. Don’t let that hinder your restaurant or scare you away from being funny. Humor is a perfect way to attract customers.
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.
Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for March 19-23.
Fast Casuals/QSR Food Trucks? From the National Restaurant Association, Read Article
Not that long ago we learned fast casual and quick service restaurants are the current leaders of the foodservice industry. So it makes sense for them to get on board with a huge industry trend that has providen to have staying power–food trucks. NRA noted from the 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast that 22 percent of fast casual restaurants and 13 percent of QSRs would consider adding a food truck to their business. About those opposed to the idea, NRA spoke with the Senior Vice President of NRA’s Research and Knowledge group, and he said there are restaurant owners who consider food trucks as competition. It’s a very valid stance, especially as food trucks compete with restaurants and other food trucks…one would think… However, just from observing the food truck scene in Indianapolis, many trucks join forces! So who knows what will happen. For more information, read the full story on the NRA website.
Burger King is Dethroned! From Huffington Post Food, Read Article
For the longest time, the order of the largest burger chains went McDonald’s, Burger King then Wendy’s. Not anymore! News broke this week that Wendy’s has exceeded Burger Kings sales. It was close though. According to a HuffPost food article, Wendy’s had $8.5 billion in sales last year and Burger King had $8.4 billion. Who knows, maybe Burger King will take the lead again next year. Last year they stopped using the king mascot, when Wendy’s was revving up their marketing campaign for burgers. Then this year, Wendy’s has brought back the ever famous catch phrase, “Where’s the Beef?” in commercials. So here is some nostalgia for you on a Friday, the original 1984 Wendy’s commercial. Read more on HuffPost Food.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ghostwriter Ordeal From Goop, Read Article
In her latest email newsletter for her blog, Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow briefly responded to an accusation that she used a ghostwriter for her cookbook My Father’s Daughter. The claim was made by New York Times writer, Julia Moskin. In the newsletter, Paltrow said she does not normally address false reporting but wanted to clarify. She continued to say “the recipes and words are all mine and come from my heart. ” Read Paltrow’s full newsletter on Goop.
Starbucks’ New “Refresher” Beverages From Starbucks, Read Article
Starbucks is adding to their beverage menu with their new drink, “Refreshers.” These new energy drinks are 60 calories per serving and use a green coffee extract that doesn’t look or taste like coffee to provide a natural energy boost. Their website says “combined with real fruit juice, B and C vitamins and ginseng, it’s a sparking low-calorie boost of natural energy in three delicious flavors.” In stores, Refreshers will be available in Raspberry Pomegranate, Orange Melon and Strawberry Lemonade. Read more and get a $1 off coupon on the Starbucks website.
Central’s on Pinterest!
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, YouTube, blogs–so many social media sites, it can be hard to keep up with them all! Pinterest is the latest to join the social media craze, but their emphasis on pictures and photography makes them stand apart from other sites. Central recently jumped on the Pinterest train to share some of our products, promotions and buying guides as well as recipes and other fun things from the internet. If you’re on Pinterest, check us out! And be sure to tell us how to find you on Pinterest in our comments section.