Share inspiring content, events, news, and a sense of fun to keep growing your following.
It’s never a bad time to reach a new audience from a fresh perspective, and social media and events are the best way to do that, whether your restaurant is 10 or 110 years old. Here’s 11 tips to transcend the mature restaurant stage across social media, new social technology, and special events.
1) Be inspirational
It’s unreasonable to expect all of your followers to end up coming to your restaurant, but that shouldn’t stop you from sharing what excites you and essentially what your place is all about. When you create interest around what you’re doing, you increase visibility.
2) Share news
Established restaurants can use social to create news events the same way a new restaurant does. Share specials, anniversaries, new menus, new dining room changes, a new staff member—anything! You have engaged followers who want to hear from you—broadcast your news!
3) Don’t overthink the process
It’s true, as The Woodford’s Will Yarney says, “There needs to be a particular style in the way you engage people in your social media, the way in which you approach people. Something that piques people’s interest.” The good news is that, as a successful business, you’ve honed that style. Share it!
4) Have fun
You’ve grown your following by doing what works best for you. Now’s a great time to push the boundaries and try new things to see how people respond. Stick to your strategy here, but don’t be afraid to get creative or take inspiration from others who do it well.
NEW SOCIAL TECHNOLOGIES
5) Share casual stories with Instagram stories and Snapchat
Snapchat has become a solid social network in its own right. The learning curve may take a little longer than some of the “traditional” networks, but if you or someone on your staff is excited about the product, it’s an innovative way to reach a particular audience. In short: users post short stories that eventually disappear. You can send these Snaps directly to others—but more importantly for your business you can create a series of Snapchat Stories that are displayed to followers. Because they’re so fleeting, posts on Snapchat are a great way to experiment with creating new types of content. Plus, the off-the-cuff nature of the platform gives followers an insider peek inside the restaurant—your kitchen, staff, and community—that more established channels can’t always offer.
Instagram recently launched a similar feature, allowing users to post a series of images or video meant to feel more casual than a regular Instagram post. Stories are an important way to stay active and relevant on the Instagram platform, especially now that the service algorithmically weighs posts and displays them for relevance, not just timeliness. (Snapchat is a vibrant and robust platform, but if you have time for one, choose Instagram Stories—especially if you already have a viable Instagram presence.)
6) Live-stream with Facebook live and Twitter periscope
Live-streaming is popular right now, and the functionality is available on both Facebook and Twitter. This means that you can use new technology to reach those same fans and followers you’ve already amassed. The same general social content rules apply here: identify the story you want to tell, then show the story. Live-streaming is adaptable to planned and scheduled posts (think: a “how-to” series or reveal of your seasonal menu), but it’s also great for unscripted moments like a trip to the market, the moment a particularly exciting seasonal ingredient arrives in your kitchen, or just having a fun with your bar or front-of-house staff.
7) Special events
Seasonal dinners full of market-driven ingredients, an anniversary party in honour of your tenth year, a or a celebration during a particularly special time for your city or town (a World Cup win, Pride weekend, the local dog show— anything!).
8) Special menus
A late-night burger-and-beer special or a special menu celebrating a certain ingredient are easy ways to give a fresh feel to your restaurant.
9) Wine dinners
Partner with a local wine producer (or distillery or brewery) for a special menu with beverage pairings. Promote to your guests and the company you partnered withs following.
10) Guest chefs
Invite your friends (or your chef’s friends) to guest cook in your kitchen for the evening. Promote the event to your regulars—and your guest’s regulars if they have them.
11) Classes or lectures
If you have the space and time, consider positioning your chef as expert on their signature item or a particular technique. Or, enlist a trusted purveyor or friend of your restaurant to lead a class.
Photos courtesy of Charlotte’s Group, The Woodford, Gauthier Soho, and Som Saa
OpenTable partnered with Kristen Hawley, founder of the popular Chefs + Tech newsletter, to create How to Grow & Thrive in the Restaurant Business e-book, the ultimate guide to serving guests and growing your business at every phase of a restaurant’s lifecycle. We’re sharing excerpts from each stage. Want to know more tips for ongoing success and long-term sustainability? Download the guide and visit page 49 – 50 for more.