Social media is one of the best ways for restaurants to engage with their fans and attract potential customers but there’s also a lot of risk. There are countless stories of restaurants posting a link or tweet that offended would-be customers and fans alike. How can restaurant owners play the social media game and come out on top?
Social media guru Keith Terrell is the owner of The Social Savior, a marketing firm that focuses on social media for restaurants, bars and cafes in the UK and Australia. Terrell says that while he and his team create posts, manage comments and more, what they really offer is peace of mind for restaurant owners. “We’re removing the stress of feeling they should be doing something online with social media but not knowing how or where to start,” he says.
It may be intimidating to create a marketing plan for your restaurant’s social media accounts but, if done right, the benefits are well worth the effort. “I believe the biggest benefit is that it gives your current customers a platform to tell you how much they already love you,” Terrell explains. “Our customers at The Social Savior are always surprised how many of their existing customers start sharing their own photos and experiences without any prompting. They tag in their friends, and say ‘you’ll need to come here with us next time’.” When done right, social media turns existing fans into ambassadors and attracts guests to your restaurant. “It’s great advertising for the business and you can share, re-tweet and/or promote these positive interactions with a larger audience of potential new customers.”
There are key ways that restaurants can get the most out of their social media marketing. Below, Terrell shares four ways to create and maintain social media profiles that will give you the biggest return on investment.
Starting from scratch? Do this.
The best restaurants have clarity on their concept and the same is true for social media. Before sending a tweet, posting an update or a picture, you should spend time thinking about the desired tone of your business’ social media pages. When working with new clients, Terrell and his team spend time creating a vision for the accounts. “We help restaurants find their style and tone of voice,” he says. Will posts be playful or serious? Are they in a conversational tone or a professional tone? “You’ll find it a lot easier posting updates on your own page once you’ve got a good idea of how you’d like to be seen,” he says.
It’s called social media for a reason.
It may sound counter-intuitive but talking to other restaurants is a great way to boost your engagement on your social media profiles. Terrell recommends taking time to research restaurant accounts that you like.“Find, follow and interact with other restaurants social media accounts that impress you,” he says. “Go out of your way to comment at least once per day on a post you found impressive and tell them why.” The benefits are two-fold: one, that account is more likely to do the same thing for you in the future and two their audience gets to see your interaction. “As well as helping you grow your own audience (by being seen) this will start to give you an idea of the style and tone of how you’d like your restaurant to come across online,” Terrell says.
Be consistent with posting updates.
What’s the biggest mistake a restaurant owner can make with their social media marketing? “One of the big ones is false starts,” Terrell says. “I see a lot of restaurants that set up their social accounts, post a few times in the first week, maybe once the next month and then that’s it – they just leave the dormant page sitting there after not getting the results they were expecting, or not having the time or motivation to continue.” It might seem like no big deal to leave the pages along for a while but it can impact your business. “The big problem with this is that when new potential customers come across their page they’ve got no idea whether the restaurant is even still open,” Terrell says. Pages that aren’t updated could equal less customers.
Remember that everyone can see what you like, comment and post and that’s a good thing.
“To really get your social media following growing you need to get out there and start liking and commenting on other restaurants pages and posts,” Terrell says. Even if you’re not getting the response that you want, if you’re interacting with restaurants and guests, potential diners will see it.
Make sure you’re making a good impression. “This is a great way to increase your following, by commenting on other restaurants pages because you’re being seen by their audiences and there’s a good chance they’ll start following you too.” Getting the attention of potential fans means they’re more likely to come into your restaurant and that’s better for your bottom line.
Photo courtesy of The Social Savior