Social media has the ability to connect, share and inform. It brings people together to cultivate and strengthen relationships, enhance experiences and promote new ideas. Chef Javier Plascencia adds, “I find that I’m able to see what other chefs are cooking or what ingredients they’re using mostly through Instagram. I message a lot of chefs through Facebook and Twitter as well to talk about ingredients, and techniques. Social media is huge right now; for me it’s a very important tool to have.” It’s the perfect space for your restaurant to share what makes it so special, to tell its story, to highlight what makes you unique and authentic. When done right, it can be an indispensable marketing tool. When it’s misused… well, you’ve probably seen the results of that.
Regardless of the platform, keep basic information up to date. Ensure your hours are accurate, post when you’re closed, and let guests know when new menus rollout.
The spirit of social media should be to enhance the users’ experience. Ask yourself if a post will brighten someone’s day—or annoy them.
Social media is a conversation, meaning users are going to ask questions. You’ll want to be sure to respond quickly to questions and comments. Think of it as an extension of face-to-face customer service.
The Social Media Landscape:
According to a recent Pew Center1 study:
- 79% of online adults use Facebook
- 32% of online adults use Instagram
- 31% of online adults use Pinterest
- 29% of online adults use LinkedIn
- 24% of online adults use Twitter
According to a BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey 20162:
- 53% of consumers search for local businesses at least one time per month (versus 43% in 2015).
- Restaurant/Cafe reviews were the most popular business category.
Before you dive into the world of social media, think strategically about where your guests are spending their time. It’s better to select 2-3 platforms and do them well rather than spread yourself thin.
Decide what your content strategy will be on each platform—keeping in mind users go to the sites for different reasons.
Best Practices by Platform
- Getting fans to see your branded content is becoming more difficult with every algorithm refresh.
- Did you know Facebook insights will show when your fans are online, so you can be sure that you are posting at peak times?
- Click “Insights” at the top of your business page and then “posts” on the left hand side to see the best day and times for you to post on your page. Every audience is different.
- Aim for 3-5 posts a week, but notice how your audience is responding and adjust accordingly.
- Ask questions.
- Share third party links. Make your captions build on the link’s title.
- Challenge yourself to keep copy short and sweet.
- On Instagram, it’s all about the narrative.
- You have to think about how the photos will look in a fan’s newsfeed alone and how it will look next to your last nine photos shared. Those nine photos are the first thing people see when they decide to follow you.
- Do the photos look cohesive and intentional when all together on a grid? They should tell your story.
- Aim for 3-6 posts a week, but notice how your audience is responding and adjust accordingly.
- Share photos that are quality, but authentic. In other words: almost perfect.
- Don’t forget the human element—even if it’s just a hand.
- Remember to wipe your photo screen, steady your hands against a wall and work with natural light for the best photos.
- Leverage hashtags—especially local ones. But don’t overdo it.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously on Twitter. This is the platform to let your funny bone show.
- Incorporate gifs and emojis to connect with followers.
- Ground your content in what’s going on that day—tying to relevant trending topics or tapping into what customers are thinking about that day. For example, note the local weather or feelings toward the day of the week.
- Aim for 3-5 tweets per day, but take notice of what resonates with your fans.
- Retweet stories that resonate with your audience.
- Interact with fans and answer questions as you’re able.
- The Twitter feed is constantly moving, so don’t be afraid to repost the same content a couple of times—just spread it out and tweak the copy a bit.
- Incorporate local hashtags for your city, region and state to reach nearby potential guests.
- Consider live tweeting events such as food festivals or even pop culture events like sporting events or even reality TV show premieres/finales.
Organic Content Ideas and Inspiration
See How Others Are Portraying Your Restaurant
- Check social media for photos that customers have either tagged your restaurant in or photos when they “check-in” at your restaurant.
- When you find a good one, ask the customer if you can re-share—they’ll feel special and you get free quality photography!
- Be sure to always credit the original photographer.
Mark Special Occasions and Holidays
- Create posts around food holidays, pop culture events and regular weekly hashtags.
- Think National Burger Day, “Treat Yo’ Self Day,” big sporting events or tv show premieres, and hashtags like #SundayFunday or #MondayMotivation.
- Stay tapped into local news/events, and be sure to post during them with the appropriate local hashtags to drive traffic after the event lets out.
- Tap into nostalgia whenever possible.
Look to Others for Support
- Let your employees (or an influential customer) do a controlled social media “take-over” to bring customers behind the scenes.
- This is perfect for Instagram’s new story feature. Have the employees take the photos and submit captions to you for sharing on the brand’s page.
- Note about Instagram Stories: You can share any photo taken in the last 24 hours. Click the “plus sign” on the left hand corner of your newsfeed. Pull the screen down and photo gallery will appear to allow uploading.
- Tag and engage with other local businesses to expand your reach—great way to promote a local beer that pairs well with your LTOs.
- Remember you have three screens and two hands, so you should see more than you say. Listen to and engage with your customers—inspiration will follow!
1 Pew Center: Social Media Update 2016: http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/
2 BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2016: https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/