Social Media

3 Ways to Engage the Right Kind of Guests on Social Media

3 Ways to Engage on Social Media

By now, you’ve hopefully learned that your restaurant guests are on social media. They’re all over social media, in fact.

It’s a powerful marketing tool you can use to build your brand and connect with hundreds, thousands, and even millions of potential customers.

But how do you make sure you’re engaging with the right ones? 40 percent of Facebook users who become fans do so to receive discounts and promotions. This figure might sound enticing, but these might not be the fans you want.

Take Groupon, for example.

A lot of restaurants lost thousands of dollars in the early days of Groupon even though the coupons brought in new customers. For every 100 Groupons a restaurant sells it will lose almost $1,200. The problem is, the customers attracted by coupons are not likely to become regulars and generally won’t end up spending much more than the deal value. To top it all off, as soon as a similar restaurant offers a coupon, many of your “new” customers will be lost to your competitor.

Instead of using deals to attract new customers, focus on these 3 ways to engage with the RIGHT kind of customer (and keep them coming back).

1. Social Listening

Are you listening to what your customers are saying about you? Your customers are on social media, and they are talking about you. It’s your job to know what they are saying, and to respond to it appropriately.

Unfortunately, not all restaurants are listening. Brandwatch reports that only 23 percent of restaurants would respond to a positive tag on Twitter, with only 29 percent responding to a negative tag. People are talking, but restaurants are not taking advantage of the conversation.

This could be a costly mistake. Consider as an example STARR Restaurants, one of the industry’s most prolific companies. STARR Restaurant Group used social media to determine that its French cafe, Le Diplomate, would be a good addition to Washington, D.C. Yet after opening with rave reviews, Le Diplomate began to lose loyal customers.

A quick look at social media showed that customers found it hard to hear each other while dining at the noisy location. Disgruntled customers took to social media to complain about the noisy restaurant. STARR Restaurant Group too quick action to remedy this situation, adding soundproofing decor and insulation to the restaurant, and then announced the changes via social media with great success.

Use Hootsuite to monitor what people are saying about you. Not only will this give you the opportunity to make improvements to your restaurant, but it will give you valuable insight into what your customers are thinking and feeling, and how to most effectively engage with them.

Read:  The Beginner's Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing

2. Contests

Contests can get people engaged with your social media page and also give you a way to reward those who are most loyal to you. To make contests work for you, you have to do them right. You

need to design the contest so it brings people into your restaurant and does not violate the social media platform’s rules.

For instance, you can use a social media contest to promote a giveaway inside your restaurant. Customers can enter the contest by following or sharing your restaurant’s page, and the winner can receive a big discount, a free meal, or even a party they can share with friends. Your options are endless! Contests build awareness about your restaurant as well as brand loyalty. If you won a free meal at a restaurant and it was a fun and amazing experience, you’d be a customer for life (and probably tell all your friends about it too).

“Fan of the Week” is another fun contest to hold. In this promotion, you instruct customers to take a picture of themselves in your restaurant to elicit votes. The fan with the most votes wins a free meal.

Competitions like this get your existing customers excited and talking about your restaurant, and that brings new people through the door.

3. Show Personality!

People don’t want to be advertised to on social media. They want to be entertained! You need to show a little personality on social media if your restaurant is going to succeed online.

Consider what Taco Bell has done. Instead of acting like a corporation with carefully staged professional food photos and scripted messages, they act like a fan with informal food photos and personal conversations that target their ideal customer. Their unique style and voice has worked wonders for their social media campaigns.

How can you add personality to your restaurant’s social media efforts? Try telling a story in your own voice. The most important thing to do is to be relatable. Be a person, not a faceless corporation. If you can do that, people will respond and engage with you more effectively.

Let Your Restaurant’s Brand Shine On Social Media

Being effective on social media does not happen by accident, and it’s not limited to the big restaurant chains. With these strategies, you can build an engaging and lucrative social media presence. Let your personality shine and watch your restaurant success grow as a result.

About the author

Marvin Doerfler

Marvin Doerfler has been designing and producing menus, wine lists and other brand building graphics for upscale restaurants and hotels for over 40 years. He learned his trade in New York City the 1950s and 60s working with such iconic restaurants as The Four Seasons, Café des Artistes, Mamma Leones and Lüchows.