An Impactful Social Media Strategy for Restaurants

Megan Redzia - 11/15/2016

restaurant-social-mediaSocial media has changed the face of the restaurant industry. People of all ages are using social networks to make dining decisions and share their experiences with others. Your customers are writing reviews on Yelp, uploading photos of their dish on Instagram, and tweeting about how long they waited for a table. Operators know they can’t afford to ignore the influential power of this medium, but many we’ve worked with have the same question: “How do I get started?”

We’ve developed a three-part approach to helping restaurants maximize their social media marketing impact. Recently highlighted in Fast Casual, we call it the EAT strategy:

  • Engage your community.
  • Align with your brand identity.
  • Turn social actions into traffic.

Engage your Community

When it comes to a brand’s social media fan base, quality is more important than quantity. Though many businesses measure a campaign’s success by verifiable numbers, such as Facebook “likes” and Instagram followers, these metrics don’t necessarily indicate success.

Focus your efforts on building an active community, rather than a high number of followers. Understand your audience and develop content catered to their interests. If your restaurant has pages representing each location, tailor the content accordingly.

Listen to what your patrons are saying and engage with them in real time. Reacting to positive feedback via social media offers your brand an opportunity to convert those making casual comments into true brand ambassadors. By addressing negative experiences, you can quickly diffuse situations, demonstrate that you care and possibly even convert an upset customer into a loyal one.

Building an active, engaged community requires nonstop monitoring of the conversations about your brand. Streamline this process by employing a social media management solution such as Nuvi, Hootsuite or Sysomos. These tools will also help automate the process of posting content, while providing insight to measure campaign progress.

Align with your brand’s identity

You likely go to great pains to unify your brand across its many uses in your logo, on your website, in your restaurant design, menu and server uniforms. This should also carry over to your social media use of your brand. Granted, with an ever-changing array of emerging new social media venues, this can be tough to keep up with, but it’s still critical to unify your message across all channels.

Develop brand guidelines and outline how they extend to social media, including use of color, font, logos and other graphics, as well as the tone of voice your brand projects through these venues. So, will you interact with customers using humor? Or do you want to be more formal or conversational? If you know your customers and your audience, you can develop your brand’s voice accordingly.

Once you have a plan, develop monthly content calendars that schedule social media copy and graphics. Indicate which content can be reused across platforms, such as converting a blog into an infographic. A calendar can help give you the big picture across venues so you can align your identity.

Turn social actions into foot traffic

Having 200 fans “like” your Facebook post about the upcoming opening of your newest location is great, but it’s likely you’d rather have 200 people walk through your door on the first day. To inspire your social community and garner their interest and business, take advantage of the power of location-based engagements. LBEs include any action taken to interact with individuals on their mobile devices when they are in a specific geographic place. Some of the most common LBEs include direct check-ins, Yelp reviews, or photo/video tagging in specific retail locations.

Some social media management solutions combine keyword-based monitoring with location-based listening to track online conversations in or near restaurants. There are also a variety of geo-specific monitoring tools that can locate customer feedback, identify influencers, uncover service issues and discover potential customers. These insights can be used to proactively reach out to local audiences and shape other components of your marketing plan.

One final note …

If your brand is already on social media, conduct an audit or seek the expertise of a social media agency to evaluate whether your efforts are driving results for your restaurant. Determine what’s working and which opportunities can improve your strategy. It’s never too late to spot shortcomings and begin using the EAT strategy.

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