Tactics and Tips for Every Restaurant
The days of wondering whether you need a website or social media account for your restaurant are long over. Diners are more Internet savvy than ever before and the moment they enter your restaurant they're snapping photos to post to Instagram, checking in on Facebook and gearing up to either praise or trash you on Yelp.
Getting your restaurant set up on social media is easy. Managing your accounts is another story altogether. If you own multiple outlets or are a large restaurant operator, you may want to consider hiring a person dedicated to monitoring and managing your social media and web properties. Not only are they more skilled, but it frees you up to focus on your restaurant's operations. If you only have one restaurant, here are some simple rules you can put into action.
We reached out to social media experts who work with restaurants large and small across the country to pick their brains and get some great tips to help you hone your practice.
owner Go Social, Louisville, Ky.
Build a Stable of Appetizing Photos
Investing in good food photography is key. Find a photographer who can shoot your food in a natural restaurant environment so it doesn't look too posed, but still looks appetizing. While it's great to show fan photos of food, be selective. Always showcase your product in the best light.
Customer Service is Key
Responding to unhappy customers is important in any industry on social, but especially in the restaurant industry as people love to talk about food online. Most people want to know they've been heard and their feedback is passed along. If someone is upset be sure to take it offline. Always offer to have a manager follow up by phone as well. That personal touch goes a long way.
Before the doors open for new restaurants or renovations, engage fans with sneak peek photos and invite them to enjoy a VIP lunch or dinner during your soft launch. These are the people who can help you spread the word online so make them feel like they were a part of the process.
Post Bite-sized Content
Give each dish its own dedicated post and lead fans to your website to see the full menu. People scan social quickly and you need to grab their attention. An image with too much text will cause them to tune out, but an enticing food photo will grab them every time.
Client Examples: Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Rock Bottom Brewery, El Meson Sandwiches, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom
co-owner Hall Management Group, Charleston, S.C.
Showcase Your Guests
We feature our guests enjoying their time in our restaurant and we encourage them to share their posts. We want to project excitement and energy within our restaurants through to our social audience. What better way to show this than the actual people in our restaurants?
Engage With Guests
Social media is all about engagement, so we make sure to be just as engaging in real life, not just through our social channels. Social media is useful to establish a connection with people, but no engagement or connection is better than the one you get inside the restaurant.
Hall Restaurants: Halls Chophouse, Rita’s Seaside Grille, High Cotton, SNOB, Old Village Post House
VP of Marketing for Sprout Social, Chicago
Limit Your Platforms
It's better to be active and cultivate communities on one or two platforms rather than spreading yourself too thin across so many channels that your presence is weak. If you're just starting out, begin with the more established platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. That may be enough. For restaurants, visual and multimedia-focused platforms like Pinterest, Vine and Snapchat could make sense.
Listen First. Engage Second.
Listen to what people are saying about your brand, industry and area so you can participate in those conversations and contribute in a meaningful way. If someone is talking about the lack of good cocktail bars in the area, it could be an opportunity for you to jump in and tell them about your new craft cocktail menu. Also, discover and participate in conversations beyond direct @mentions. Mix in some content, promotions and special offers specific to your establishment and you remain authentic while adding value and driving business.
Take Advantage of a Platform's Strengths
For example, Instagram is a powerful visual platform, so restaurants can post pictures and video clips that showcase their food, plating and atmosphere. Behind the scenes and original content is great on Instagram. Twitter is suited for responding to customers in real time and in mostly public interactions, but the nature of the feed is so quick that promotional messages and activity can get lost. Facebook and Instagram provide a lot of opportunities via their geo-tag capabilities to identify people who are at your restaurant and then engage with them directly during or after their visit. Researching and following hashtags on all three platforms is a great way to identify and cultivate communities, as well.