5 Social media marketing tips for restaurant owners

Despite the potential for success, buying and operating a restaurant can be deemed one of the biggest risks out there – which is why we’re here to help you out with 5 restaurant marketing tips for social media.
Various studies show a failure rate of between 60 to 90 percent, with a big chunk washing out during the first year, and an even bigger percentage taking up to five years to face their demise. And then, of course, even if you’re fortunate enough to outlast this risky period, you’ll still have to apply plenty of elbow grease through hard work, perhaps even working even harder than you’d ever imagined, to ensure stability for the long haul.

Various restaurant pros are quick to offer advice on how to keep the lights on and your guests happy, and it’s also equally easy for these same dining aficionados to identify points of perceived weakness – especially after a restaurant crashes and burns (hopefully not literally).

These 5 restaurant marketing tips for possessing a strong social media presence can assist your restaurant brand in getting the word out. It may not be able to help with financing and cash flow, which is why some lenders avoid restaurants altogether, but it will assist you in your marketing efforts. In fact, successful social media marketing can help boost awareness, interest, and general loyalty, which all can be factors in getting prospective diners excited to serve as patrons at your establishment.

Though some social media marketing experts may suggest first creating a channel on every main social network, this may prove to be a bit of a challenge. In any case, the reasoning may be sound: to reach a larger number of users who may avoid certain platforms. For instance, if you rely solely on Facebook, you will exclude those who deliberately choose not to use this social channel. However, a big mistake that’s easy to make right out of the gate, is to create numerous pages on each channel, and then not maintain any of them. If you find yourself in this situation, it might make more sense to identify a select few social outlets, and manage your presence adequately and regularly on each. Longtime studies of online behavior for social media marketing of businesses suggest that there is often a push to create pages for a new company, but then these same pages become dusty from lack of consistent effort. The most important restaurant marketing tip for social media is that you must maintain your social media presence and engage your fans.

Here are some other useful restaurant marketing tips for utilizing social media:

  1. 1. Pictures of food

    Though people are interested in what prospective diners might think about an establishment (good or bad), they may get especially excited if they can see images of what’s actually available on the menu. For this reason alone, visually-oriented sites like Instagram or Tumblr are perfect for showing exactly what will appear on a restaurant patron’s plate. Photo channels can be used to continuously add menu items, or perhaps showcase the day’s special. Photos can also encourage restaurant-goers to take photos of their meal and upload them to their personal pages, with special incentives for tagging the restaurant. (Even more bonus points can be accumulated if servers/hostesses assist in staging photos, ensuring that food items appear in the most appealing manner for both the diner – and, in turn, for the restaurant.  You’re not limited to Instagram and Tumbr, as sites such as Facebook and Twitter also allow inclusion of photos of delectable menu items. A study by Facebook shared with Social Media Examiner stated that photos are one of the most effective ways to engage your readers – this compared to links, status updates, video, or even photo albums.

  2. 2. Offer online coupons

    Online coupons may be made available directly from your page, or be provided to participating diners via text or email links delivered on a regular basis. Offering exclusive discounts might serve as an incentive encourage diners to enroll to receive your texts, or for your VIP club, especially if the registration process isn’t too complex. Promotion of this service can also carry over to your Facebook page for cross-promotion. Although coupons may result in smaller profits per item, you have the potential to make up for diner discounts as a result of the increased number of visitors coming through your doors.

  3. 3. Go beyond traditional food service in your restaurant marketing

    By using Pinterest, your page might be used to offer information about where your food comes from, or to offer some fun step-by-step recipes with before and after photos. A YouTube page has equal added benefits, for instance, including instructional video of one of your chefs preparing one of your signature items, or possibly, a popular dessert. Along the same lines, Snapchat images of the kitchen crew can showcase your restaurant team’s personality, and your team members having fun. Your loyal fans will love this “sneak peek” of what goes on outside of the public view. Restaurant Engine suggests registering with Yelp, which will allow people to post reviews, and Foursquare, which allows diners to “announce” when they check-in.

  4. 4. Cross-promote like crazy

    If you’re chronicling something cool taking place on one channel, don’t forget to tell people about it on your other channels. This could be a Facebook contest that you cross-promote on Twitter, or vice versa. If you have a blog, be sure to regularly describe any interesting events or content on the various social media channels. This will encourage people to visit each, and in essence, help to build your brand.

  5. 5. Be responsive

    A sometimes overlooked aspect of social media marketing is actively interacting with the public.  Start by posting questions that people may enjoy answering. Be ready to respond quickly and politely if someone posts a negative experience or opinion, or asks a question on a channel.

Restaurant owners should embrace social media as an inexpensive way to reach new customers and ensure existing diners keep coming back for more of your delicious specialties. For more innovative social media marketing strategies, contact our team of experienced industry professionals today!

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