Does social media really work for restaurants?
Just ask Ava Gene’s in Portland, Oregon. Only four years old. Just one location. But 5,000+ followers on Instagram, where every one of their photos gets devoured by that following. 4.6 stars on Google+ Reviews. 4+ stars on Yelp.
That restaurant is flourishing and constantly mentioned online.
We wrote a whole series on this subject of social media and restaurants, encouraging you to engage potential fans and followers there. But let’s take a look at few others’ opinions on the matter, and some data that backs up my claim that social media absolutely works for restaurants, when you’ve got the right strategy in place.
Tell you what, go check out #Hungry? Fuel Your Restaurant Sales with Social Media, by Brooks Briz and Kristen Baughman. It’s your complete how-to in book form on this subject. I read an advance copy of this and it’s extremely well done. Very comprehensive.
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Here’s the reality of social media in 2015.
Though you may be frustrated with Facebook’s wanderlust, it’s only GAINING momentum with the 55+ gang. Yes, teens have started bailing out on the social network, but others are standing firm, and they’re constantly giving up all sorts of demographic and psychographic details for you to attract them through paid advertising.
Meanwhile, while you may feel that your focus should be solely on your website, there are other recent developments regarding Google search engine result pages. For example, all publicly-available tweets are indexed within Google’s search engine results. That means mentions of your brand can be found there. And how about Pinterest? Yes, they’re there too.
Facebook and Instagram posts (even the public ones) aren’t there yet, and may never get there — but your account profiles can be found when people search for your restaurant’s name. You need to own those branded searches.
And here’s another important point regarding the value of social media.
Increasingly, people are viewing social media as the default, catch-all customer service channel for all brands they interact with. Even small ones. One study suggests that 42% of consumers expect a response to their public, social media complaint about products or service within 60 minutes. Are you prepared to respond like that?
There’s an outstanding getting started guide by Social Media Examiner on this very topic. Fact is, a restaurant customer is just as likely to turn to social media to praise or complain about their experience as customers of any other business. You can listen in on that conversation or ignore it, but it’s happening.
Finally, let’s talk about taking online orders.
If the other facts don’t convince you, maybe this one will: You can affordably accept online orders via Facebook from more than one provider. Both ChowNow and Placebag offer this service to independent restaurants.
I don’t want to rock your world too much and predict that ordering via Instagram is right around the corner…but I also wouldn’t best against it. Or Pinterest, for that matter.
Pay attention, folks. Social media isn’t just about meaningless chatter and cat photos and celebrity gossip. The sum total of Facebook + Twitter + Instagram + Pinterest + Snapchat represent the 21st Century public telecommunications network.