Tag Archives: twitter

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Tips for Your Restaurant

Whether you’re an avid social media user or not, when it comes to your restaurant, it’s time to be one! Social media marketing can have an incredible effect on your restaurant’s sales – but you need to do it the right way. We’re here to help! Scroll down to read some of the top tips in the business that will make your restaurant stand out using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Facebook

Let’s face it: Facebook has opened up an entirely new way to market for restaurants. Now, instead of owning a website, you can put all of your information including hours and menu, on your Facebook page! It’s a great free resource for anyone starting out in the business. With Facebook, you can connect with customers on a personal level, all while posting updates about your food and business.

Make sure you utilize your coversocial media image to show off your beautiful food, along with posting pictures, updates, events and specials going on around you city and restaurant. Use the tabs options for Facebook as well. Some examples of great tabs for restaurants include photos of food; locations; food deals; and featured menu items. Finally, try setting up some offers and deals for current and potential customers. This is definitely a great way to secure repeat business along with getting new customers. You can also run sweepstakes and contests too – perfect for giving away a gift card or two!

If you really want to get into marketing on Facebook, try out some ads and videos!

Twitter

To perform great on Twitter, you’ll follow a lot of the same trends as Facebook. But, with Twitter, tweets are created and gone in an instant on someone’s timeline, unlike a Facebook post. On this social media outlet, the timing will be essential if you want your tweets to be seen. Think like your customer! Include tweets with links to your menu, images of your food and offers to entice them to follow you. Then, think about the time of day when your customer will be looking for these things the most. Dinnertime? Breakfast? It’s when your most popular service is.

Similar to Facebook, you can do sponsored tweets to get your branded tweet shown in more timelines, creating potential new customers! Cha-Ching!

Instagram

Instagram is newer to the social media game, but it’s just as important as the rest of them. The reason? Instagram is primarily a photo sharing platform, and for restaurants who use it well it’s working out to their advantage. Any employee at your restaurant can take a regular photo they took at work and transform it into a great marketing image by using Instagram.

social mediaRemember to use trending hastags, whether it be National Bourbon Day or Eat a Cookie day – but only if it works with your photo. You can use niche hashtags that focus more on the area of your restaurant, say #Indianapoliseats for example.

Instagram is a great outlet because you can entice your customers to share their images of your food on their platforms, which lets you get involved socially and create a personal connection. Also, people love to see employees on social media so your restaurant or business feels more human. Snap a few pictures of your employees hard at work and share! It will show that you restaurant is a fun place to be and has great customer service. Finally just like the other two outlets mentioned, you can have photo contests on Instagram. Have customers share their best pictures of your menu items and in return enter them in to winning a gift card at your place! Essentially you’re sharing the wealth for everyone!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the social media game for five minutes or five years. What’s important is that you use these tips to broaden your audience and generate more revenue as well as repeat and new customers!

social media tips for restaurants

8 Ways to Use Social Media to Boost Restaurant Sales

Social Media: Take Out The Complications

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

social media restaurant sales2. 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.

social media restaurants6. 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.

 

How Restaurants are Incorporating Social Media—Part 2

On Tuesday April 24, we broke down the latest on restaurants using social media and some information on using Pinterest.  The other heavy hitters in the social media game are Facebook and Twitter.

It may seem like there is a lot involved with keeping up with social media—but it’s really not as time consuming as you think, especially when there are websites available such as HootSuite or Later Bro.  Sites like these enable you to post in advance, because let’s face it, during any meal time rush, the last thing you have time for is to post.

Here’s a breakdown and the latest on Facebook and Twitter as well as a few ideas to help you rejuvenate your pages.

Facebook

On March 30, all Facebook fan pages got a facelift as they were automatically switched over to the new Timeline.  Some hate the new Timeline while others love it–but if you want to be on Facebook then you’re stuck with it. Don’t look at it that way though; the new Timeline feature actually brought on a few new really neat features that help to humanize your business. After all, your restaurant is more than words typed on a screen.

1. Cover Photo

The cover photo is at the top of your page and it’s a way to display what your business is about and grab attention.  Facebook did set a few rules on cover photos such as no calls to action, purchase information, contact information or references to interface elements (i.e. “Likes Us”).  So if you use one of these no-nos in your current cover photo, you may want to get it updated.  View the rules and cover photo tips here.

2. Contact/About Information

While you can’t outright promote in your cover photo, your contact and “About Us” area is where you can promote your business in your account settings.  There are actually a few different sections you can fill out—so write whatever works best to describe your restaurant.  The more information the better, so be sure to put in your address, website, phone number(s), hours of operation and anything else available.

3.  Apps

New word and new page placement, but same concept.  What are we talking about? Apps. Remember how you had “tabs” on your old Facebook page that were on the left side? For instance check-in, Like Us, maps, notes or a link to your blog? Those are now called “Apps” and they are located at the top of your page instead of at left. Four apps appear and you can add more (up to 12) in a drop-down. Just be sure the top four are your most important.

4. Top Pin

If there is something you want to be sure people see, such as a menu special or event, there’s an option now to make it a “top pinned post,” and it will stay at the top of your page. Do keep in mind, if you mark something as a top pinned post and it’s time sensitive, set a reminder for yourself to change it or un-mark it. According to a SmartBlog on Social Media article, top pinned posts can stay up for a week.

5. Pictures, Timeline and More New Features

It’s called the Facebook “Timeline” because it now allows you to tell the story of your business.   Things you posted in the past are easier for viewers to find and you can add milestones in your restaurant’s history such as when you first opened or a huge memorable event. It’s whatever you want to portray.

With the new Facebook Timeline, there is more of an emphasis of pictures–so if you can post some, whether it’s in a status or an album, do so!  And they don’t have to be anything epic.  Let’s say you’re having a special on one of your sandwiches. Instead of just posting a status update about the sandwich, why not include a picture with it?

Twitter

While Facebook and Twitter are both social media sites with a concentration being on words, they are completely different and should be treated that way.  You get 140 characters.  That’s it.  But it’s really not that much of a challenge.  In a recent Sociable360 infographic, they describe Twitter being best for “short, to-the point updates; monitoring conversations about your brand and finding potential customers.”

We live in a world where people’s attention spans are low. If you don’t capture someone’s attention in the first sentence of anything, they move on. So with Twitter, they make you get straight to the point. Here are a few quick tips on making the most of your restaurant’s Twitter:

  • Make your tweets different than your Facebook posts so your audience has fresh content on both platforms.
  • If do have to have Twitter linked to Facebook, or vice versa, try to make the Facebook status 140 characters or less. It’s obvious to people when a tweet is just an actual Facebook post because it cuts off.
  • Only use Twitter terminology (hashtags, @ symbol) on Twitter and not on Facebook.
  • Post specials or tips to get people to come in! Restaurants are really the exception to the “don’t be over salesy” rule for businesses on social media. It’s okay to post “Two tacos for $1 until 6 p.m. today!” or “Doesn’t a personal pan pizza sound like the perfect lunch?”
  • Use hashtags to your benefit. The hashtag (#) marks an important keyword in a post. It spreads your posts out further, just beyond your own followers.
  • Use trending topics to your benefit.  If there is a way to incorporate a trending topic into a post, do it! Don’t add it in if it’s irrelevant though—only if it fits with what you’re saying.
  • Tweet back. Engage with your followers that are trying to interact with you. And interact with people you follow.
  • You can post pictures and video by using sites like TwitPic or yfrog.
  • Don’t spend too much time trying to compose “the perfect Tweet” because it’ll already be old news within five or 10 minutes.  Don’t waste time, just post.

 

Soda

Central’s Week in Brief: August 26, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more.  It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

Soda1)      The U.S. Department of Agriculture said no to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the purchase of soda and other sugary drinks using food stamps.    According to CBS News, “The ban would have applied to any sweetened beverage that contains more than 10 calories per eight ounces.”  The proposal was turned down due to issues like  the time it may take to decide what would or wouldn’t qualify and that it might make those using the stamps feel stigmatized.

2)      Once known for his affinity for fatty foods like McDonald’s hamburgers, former president Bill Clinton has decided to go vegan.  USA Today reported that Clinton, “…is following this eating plan to improve his heart health.”  The former president has had surgery on his heart twice since 2004.  For more information on living the vegan lifestyle, check out our post on vegan and vegetarianism.

3)      Morton’s The Steakhouse took customer service to the next level using social media.  After Peter Shankman, a public relations professional, tweeted about wanting a steak dinner, a Morton’s staff member actually met him at the airport with a 24-ounce Porterhouse steak, Colossal Shrimp and potatoes.  Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Morton’s, Roger Drake, told Smart Blog on Restaurants, “These things don’t happen unless it’s part of your culture, and that is really what Morton’s is all about: noticing little details, making it a memorable dining experience and wowing our guests.”  It also doesn’t hurt business that all of Morton’s and Shankman’s Twitter followers witnessed this act of kindness.

4)       A report done by the Union of Concerned Scientists has found that the amount of U.S. farmers markets has almost tripled within the last decade.  According to an article on Triple Pundit the markets went from, “2,863 in 2000 to 6,132 in 2010 and over 100,000 farmers are selling their products to customers directly.”   This boom of markets has help to boost local economies, but the report’s author, Jeffrey O’Hara, believes that if more government assistance  were provided to these types of farming practices instead of more industrial farms, it could generate “tens of thousands of new jobs.”

5)    With a new school year comes a new, healthier menu for 480 school districts being provided with food by the Sodexo company.  In order to help the fight against obesity and expand the tastes of students, Sodexo will now offer items like Mediterranean Lentil Soup and Tropical Vegetable Tofu.  According to a press release, “Sodexo’s team of culinary experts, including chefs at school districts nationwide, developed recipes that entice students and meet USDA’s National School Lunch Program guidelines.”  

If you’d like to try out a version of the Mediterranean Lentil Soup, check out this version from Epicurious.

Using Social Media for Your Restaurant: Twitter

In last week’s crash course on using Facebook for your restaurant, we learned just how important social media really is and how it can increase business to your restaurant. This week we’ll delve into Twitter.

If you’re completely unfamiliar to Twitter, visit the Twitter Guide Book for everything you need to know. This is also a great resource for frequent users as well.

Today’s blog will cover the basics. For those who use Twitter regularly for your restaurant, please comment below how it’s working for your business.

So what is Twitter? They said it best:

So you, the restaurant, are what people find interesting and compelling.  The end goal is to have people follow you—and they will. Like we said, you won’t see drastic numbers overnight. But as time goes by, your following will increase. Spread the word to customers in your signage, menus, website, etc. and it will help increase your number of followers too.

Getting Started

Get an account here. When choosing a name, you may have to be a little creative based on availability–but still pick a name customers will easily recognize.  They’ll walk you through the rest of the steps.

Composing Tweets

For anything people are reading, from news stories to magazine articles, if you don’t catch someone’s attention in the first couple sentences, you have lost them as a reader.  You can actually accomplish a lot in the 140 characters Twitter gives you because it’s forcing you to get down to the point. Keep it simple and relevant. You can tweet about things in the past or for the future, but as a restaurant, you can take advantage of the moment and tweet about what’s going on right now.  It might drive someone in the door. Twitter has especially been great for food trucks in letting people know where they are.

Examples

“Serving breakfast from 7a.m. to 11 a.m.!”

“Pork tenderloin special only available today.”

“Stop in for our famous BBQ bacon burger for lunch this afternoon.”

“The ABC food truck will be at the corner of 10th and Smith Street today from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.”

Topics

Many restaurants, like McDonalds, Hard Rock Café and Dominos, tweet conversation starters related to their restaurant but engage readers without just promoting a special. We learned last week in the Facebook blog that it’s okay to promote, but over-promoting drives people away.

“Today’s topic: diversity and inclusion at McDonald’s. We are a leader in the area and proud of the recognition we’ve received.” –@McDonalds

“Happy Birthday to the legendary Les Paul! He would have been 96 today.” –@HardRock

“Another 90+ degree day today at Domino’s HQ. No truth to the rumor that we’re cooking pizzas on the sidewalks.” –@dominos

Just like Facebook, you can connect with others too—which is a great way to get your name out there. Keep in mind Twitter is a live newsfeed, so the more you tweet the more people will see you.

The Twitter Vocabulary

Here are a few of the most commonly used words you will see when using Twitter. For all Twitter vocabulary words, check out the Twitter Glossary.

Tweet: Your message to the world.

Retweet (RT): A forwarded tweet.

At symbol (@): You have your username, i.e. ours is CRPRestaurant. The @ sign is used to call out usernames on Twitter. So, for instance, to message us, tweet @CRPRestaurant.

Mentions: You can click on @Mentions, next to timeline just under the “What’s Happening” box to see any messages tweeted to you.

Direct Message (DM): A private way to send messages.

Follow: Following is exactly what it means. When people choose to follow you, they’re following what you have to say because they’re interested. You can follow people (i.e. customers, resources) you’re interested in and respond to them.

Hashtag symbol (#): Marks keywords in topics in a tweet. You can use them in sentences or after. It’s a good way for people who aren’t following you to find you in the search box or even in trending topics. (i.e. “Stop by for #dinner tonight and enter in our #contest.” OR “Stop by for dinner tonight and enter in our contest. #dinner #contest”)

Trending: A trending topic is one of the most popular topics on Twitter at a particular moment in time. You’ll see everything trending on the right side of your page. You can take advantage of these when you can relate something you’re about to tweet. Let’s say “wings” is a trending topic and you just happen to have a special going on, take advantage of it. (i.e. “We have 2 cent wings tonight! #wings”)

In Conclusion….This is Just the Beginning

When it comes to the message, Twitter is incredibly simple. If anything, get an account to tweet information about your restaurant to customers.  But if you’re even the slightest bit of technologically savvy or simply interested in what else Twitter has to offer—there is so much more. Here are some other Twitter resources to look into that will help you utilize Twitter best for your restaurant. Happy Tweeting!

Tweetr: iPhone app with many high functions including scheduling tweets.

TweetDeck: Personal real-time browser allowing you to connect through a variety of social media sites.

Twitter Search: Find what topics you’re interested in on Twitter.

Tweet Button: Add this to your website or anything web related for you—especially great for blogs.

HootSuite: Another social media dashboard.

Link/URL Shortening: Your 140 characters are important—Twitter just began a feature that shortens links for you, or you can use sites to shorten URLs like Bitly, Ow.ly and Google URL Shortener.

Pictures: Similar to link shortening, you can use certain websites to upload pictures to then share them on Twitter from a link such as TwitPic, Lockerz, Yfrog, Pikchur or Twittxr.

Twitter Apps: As a restaurant owner, you probably find yourself most of the time helping your staff. Use a mobile app to help you with your on-the-go schedule.

Clean up on Spring Dining with Central!

Spring is almost upon us and with the warmer weather it’s time to start thinking about outdoor dining. Stumped on what you might need or just searching for ideas on what works best?  Whether you’re looking to begin seating outdoor or renovating the furniture in your current area, Central has tips and great deals on all the products you need to create the ideal outdoor setting for your guests!

Photo from grosfillexfurniture.com

The first step in choosing the right furniture (indoor or outdoor) is to analyze the available space and what you want to convey to your customers.  To make the most of what’s available, one option would be to use bar height products like the line from Grosfillex.   These tables and stools allow for smaller parties and groups looking to enjoy a nice cocktail on the patio.

 

Grosfillex
Bar Height Table Bases          
Melamine Table Tops           
Havana Bar Stool 

Another major detail in picking out outdoor furniture is the material it’s made from.   The best choice will be durable and visually pleasing and require little to no maintenance.  Central offers three options that fit perfectly into these categories: wrought iron, aluminum and teak.

Photo from centralrestaurant.com

Wrought iron furniture is great because it lasts years with little maintenance and because it is constructed of such heavy duty material, it also stands up great to those spring days when the wind picks up a bit.  Create a classy look for a great price with Central’s Value series wrought iron furniture.

Value Series – Wrought Iron Outdoor Furniture
Side and Arm Chairs
Bar Stools

Tables

Aluminum offers a lighter, rust-proof construction.   This option even has a sleek enough look to be used as indoor or outdoor pieces.  Central makes aluminum furniture even more affordable with our Central Value series.

Value Series – Aluminum Indoor/Outdoor Furniture
Aluminum and Aluminum/Wicker Arm Chairs 
Tables

Photo from centralrestaurant.com

Finally, there is teak, an extremely durable hardwood that requires little care and no preservatives or treatment of any kind to protect it from the elements.   The unique color changes of teak can also be a draw.  If weathered it can turn a silver gray, if used inside it will become a darker shade of brown and when teak oil is used the wood maintains the original tawny color.  Each color allows for its own unique look and adds to the charm of the item that requires little maintenance for years of service.  Central offers several different choices in teak tables and seating that allow for a layout that will fit any patio.

Florida Seating Teakwood
Chairs
Bar Stools
Inlay Tables 
Standard & Bar Height Table Sets 

Photo from centralrestaurant.com

Once you’ve picked out the perfect items created from just the right material for your space, the final step is to create a specific space for your outdoor dining area.   Although some open-air dining spaces have a boundary of some sort (possibly a sidewalk), it’s always more inviting to create a defined section to make it seem more inviting.  Central even has this covered with Grosfillex portable patio fencing !  The fencing is easy to assemble, weather resistant and can be filled with water or sand for extra stability.

With all of these great products to get you ready for the big spring/summer outdoor dining rush, Central has everything you need to make the season a success and keep your customers lining up to sit on your patio.  

Don’t hesitate to contact Central with any questions about any of the offers listed at 800-222-5107.  And if you’ve purchased any of these wonderful outdoor products from us, please share what you think below, through a product review on our site or on our Facebook or Twitter pages!

Latest Technology for Restaurants

Technology is constantly evolving and there is always something new. Here is some of the latest technology available that all kinds of foodservice establishments can take advantage of.

Mobile Apps

A majority of people have a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) and with the popularity of these phones, there is practically a mobile app for everything.  A recent article by Nation’s Restaurant News said several restaurant chains such as Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Culver’s have apps for smartphones and many other chains have a mobile app in the works.  Mobile apps help customers spend money and also provide a convenient way to obtain information. Snapfinger is one of the places to sign up for an app for your restaurant.

Social Media

The number of Facebook users varies per source, but at least 500 million people use it. Social media is much more than posting what is going on that day.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter are a very powerful tools to increase sales.

Using Facebook’s “like” button has proved to have increased sales for many restaurants and others use their Facebook page for online ordering. Twitter provides real-time posts and while you are limited to 140 characters, they can be a very powerful 140 characters. By using either or both of these sites, you can promote your business and connect with customers.

A recent article from FT.com has this quote from Facebook Creator, Mark Zuckerberg, that expresses the importance of social media: “If you look five years out, every industry is going to be rethought in a social way. You can remake whole industries. That’s the big thing.”

QR Codes

This QR code was generated in 10 seconds and leads to the Central website

QR Codes are everywhere. But what are these odd barcode like boxes? Convenient! With a click of a button, information goes straight to a phone.

The Qurify website defines QR codes as “two dimensional barcodes that are easily scanned using any modern mobile device. This code will then be converted (called “dequirified”) into a piece of (interactive) text and/or link.”

To break this definition down, anyone with a modern phone simply needs a QR code reader app for their phone, such as the Kaywa Reader. Then, whenever a person sees a QR code, they take a picture of it and it takes them straight to a link. This makes things incredibly simple. So you’re wondering how to make your own QR code? It’s just as simple as retrieving one. There are a variety of QR code generators out there. Putting in “QR code generator” in a Google search will provide you with many sites, qrcode.kaywa.com being one of the main ones. Use a QR code to link customers to an important part of your establishment, such as a information about a particular product or a promotion.

Electronic Menus

Technology + Menus = Electronic Menus. While this technology is still in its early stages, it’s a neat feature to keep in mind for the future. A restaurant in Tokyo is using the Graffiti Bar. An article by The Independent (United Kingdom) says this interactive menu bar allows guests to look through menus, interact with waiters, play games and create graffiti. Another article from Digital Signage Today revealed KFC in the U.K. is testing out electronic menus.