Social Media

The Beginner’s Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing

 This is the first post in a series. Review the updates at the bottom of this article for links to follow-up articles. 

Beginners Guide Social Media Marketing

Let’s say you run marketing for a small restaurant chain. Five locations. All local. And you’re ready to REALLY get going with social media marketing.

What should you do first?

The Beginner’s Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing here at NextRestaurants aims to put you on the right path.

We’re excited to pass on wisdom from other restaurants to help you shape your social media engagement plan. But before we get started with the series, there’s a digital tool we’ve got to tell you about.

If there’s just one thing that social media has taught us, it’s that MANY people are ready and willing to create social media accounts and start listening/watching to what’s going on. But few are READY to dive in and starting USING social media.

Listen First, Participate Next

How about a tool that respects that while providing valuable social insight? A tool that helps you see what restaurants in your area are doing with social media FIRST. You can read what others are doing right around the corner, in your community and neighborhood, and let that start to shape your plan of attack.

The tool is Perch, by the team at Closely.

It’s easy to use and unbelievably helpful. I’m surprised I don’t hear about it as much from restaurant marketers. It just flat out works.

Here’s the 411 and why it’s valuable:

Perch lets you monitor the social activity of specific, local business categories (such as dining establishments). Even specific restaurants you choose (i.e. the pizza shop a block away) to see how they’re using social media to engage fans and guests.

Now, when I say, “see how they’re using social media,” here’s what I mean:

An App to Monitor Competing, Local Restaurants On Social Media

Perch

Without having to click around in Facebook, and then Twitter, and then (gasp) Foursquare — right within the Perch app — you can see those other restaurants’ Facebook and Twitter posts, check out any daily deals and social promotions they’re using, and even peek into their most recent Yelp reviews.

Read:  Own Your Restaurant's Social Media with These Six Tips

Seriously.

And here’s what I mean by “easy to use”.

Perch 2.0 ScreenshotYou download the app and create an account.

You can then add your location by searching for it in the Explore search box. If you tap the Profile button, which is next to the Watch button, you can indicate that you own the business. A confirmation is required, obviously.

You can then add competitor restaurants to your watchlist. A watchlist is exactly what it sounds like: restaurants you want to keep an eye on. You do this by tapping in the Explore search box. Perch 2.0 Screenshot

I’d recommend adding several restaurants, regardless of their theme or style (fast casual, casual dining, QSR), so you can get a feel for what others are doing to attract and retain guests.

Boom. That’s it. You’re underway.

At this point, just start diving into specific restaurants to see what they’re doing with social.

Check out their latest Facebook posts. Their Foursquare promotions. Their most recent tweets.

Perch 2.0 Screenshot

And what about their newest Yelp reviews? They’re visible, too.

The iPhone images in this post show screenshots I created near where I live — what you’d actually see if you created a “watchlist” of nearby restaurants, as an example. (Click on any of them to enlarge.)

Perch has received news coverage elsewhere, including tech blog Mashable, but we still don’t hear about restaurants using it.

It’s completely free, with no nagging upgrades required to use more advanced functionality. We love it.

Perch 2.0 Screenshot

And we hear an even more powerful version 2.0 is just about ready for release has been released.

As we get started publishing this Beginner’s Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing, you can get started by downloading Perch on your smartphone.

In future posts, we’ll be sharing specific how-to steps and tools you can use to monitor and interact with your restaurant’s fans and followers online.

UPDATE: Check out our updates to this series:

About the author

Brandon Hull

Brandon is the original founder of NextRestaurants.com. He has helped thousands of restaurants implement innovative marketing strategies, campaigns, and tactics by incorporating new technology, in order to attract loyal guests.