Social Media

6 Keys to Marketing Your Restaurant with Social Media

Social media is a two-way conversation. This post is #2 in a series, including 6 social media marketing tips for restaurants.

This is the second post in our series comprising The Beginner’s Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing. View our previous post on getting started here.

Beginners Guide Social Media Marketing

Social media continues to be a hot topic with restaurants. But how do you know if you’re doing it right? Or if it’s even right for you?

Here are six key perspectives to keep in mind as you begin creating or reigniting social media marketing for your restaurant .

1. Social media is special because it’s a conversation

The most important thing to know about social media is that it’s a two-way conversation. Picture this: you’re attending a kickin’ party. Which of the following behaviors will likely result in you being invited back?

  1. Standing in a corner saying nothing while people talk to you.
  2. Talking about yourself incessantly.
  3. Trying to sell something to everyone you are talking with.
  4. Engaging in genuine dialogue as it happens

If you chose #4, I think you get it already. If you chose #1, #2, or #3, read on.

2. It’s worth dedicating personal time

If you’re going to use social media as part of your marketing mix (and obviously you should), realize now that it’s something you’re going to need to dedicated time to. At least a little bit each day.

In our party scenario, standing silent while people talk to you is equivalent to creating a social media account, gaining a following, but never engaging with anyone. One of the best things about social media is that people want to participate in a conversation, so give the people what they want.

If you post something on Twitter, respond when people reply. If your followers write on your Facebook wall, be sure to say something back, even if it’s a thank you. People want to know that there’s a human element to a brand and it doesn’t take much to make them happy in that regard.

3. It’s not about me, me, me, me

How annoying is it when the person you are speaking to only talks about themselves? That’s a one-way ticket to Boresville. No one wants to hear “buy this,” “come here,” “do this,” “I’m cool because,” or other self-promotional comments.

Instead of making it all about you, engage in a little one-on-one action.

There are so many ways to make your followers feel like they’re the only person in the room—even when you’re posting en masse. Ask questions about what your fans want, like, need, etc. Have them take photos when they’re in their venue with family or friends and tag you in the post. Offer an exclusive deal when your customers check in to your location. And then INTERACT with them when they do.

When it’s time to talk about you, do it in a fun way.

That tweet by Jersey Mike’s earned them 8 re-tweets and 16 favorites as of this writing. Know how many re-tweets and favorites Outback Steakhouse got by simply pummeling people to come buy their gift cards? 4 & 6. Know how many Panera Bread got for doing the same as Outback? 4 & 12.

Post a trivia question about your restaurant’s history, host an online Google Hangout where guests can ask questions of the owner or popular bartender, post photos of your first days in the business (people love nostalgia).

Balancing the conversation with a little bit me and a little bit you keeps people entertained and engaged with your brand—leading to positive feelings, and maybe even a few new fans.

4. Don’t whip out the goods too often

You’re not a creepy dude in a trench coat full of watches. Or maybe you are, but either way, no one wants to see that mess. There’s a right way, and a wrong way, to “sell” to your potential restaurant guests. Of course, you want your customers to know about your specials and deals in the hopes of enticing them back through your doors.

Read:  This Week in Restaurant Technologies #018 -- Foursquare, Applebee's, Instagram

But here’s the thing. If that’s ALL you talk about—you’re going to turn people off in a big way. Save your “buy now” posts for truly special things you want to share: a new menu item, seasonal favorites that are back for a limited time, a whopper of a deal that can’t be passed up (ex: a buy-one-get-one entrée special or bonus gift card program for the holidays).

If you’re just schlocking your normal, run of the mill menu items all day long, people will turn you off and you’ll be getting the opposite reaction you want. So keep the salesmanship to just the best of the best.

Another idea is to switch up how you present the offers. Ask your customers which deal they think is better; post a picture and have your guests come up with creative names for your new menu item; heck, write your pitch like a haiku. The point is, keep it interesting and avoid in-your-face selling styles.

5. Mix it up

While there’s something to be said about consistency, posting the same sort of content over and over again makes people’s eyes glaze over. Throw in some photos, ask questions, give some interesting tidbits of your bar’s origination story, highlight a member of your staff or a regular customer, try different tactics on different social channels.

And speaking of which… How do you know what social sites are best for you? It really comes down to how much time you are willing to dedicate to social media, who you are trying to connect with and where they are. For example, if you are looking to engage the 21-34 crowd, you’ll want to focus your efforts on places like Instagram and Twitter.

53 likes of that simple photo for Five Guys on Instagram. Think that’s not much? They only have 2,400 followers, so 2% of their followers and/or that person’s followers liked the photo. That’s good interaction and great 1:1 marketing.

Because of the influx of older people still joining and using Facebook and Instagram, many “youngins” are exploring other social networks to be on the newer sites—away from the prying eyes of mom and dad. So, focus on the sites that will have the most impact. It doesn’t really pay to be on every site but not manage them properly. So do a bit of research (even if it’s just asking your young staff where you should be) and then stay on top of those channels, keeping them active and inviting.

6. Don’t run away from bad interactions

When you speak like a real human on social media, not like a corporation, you attract people. Give them a chance to respond to you when your food, or service, or something else just doesn’t work. Sometimes they’ll do it before or instead of running to Yelp, sometimes they won’t. At least give them the chance to interact.

Thinking about social media marketing can be overwhelming. Start with the simple tips above and you’ll be on your way to building your social brand in no time. Party on!

Want to keep reading right now on this subject? Here are several more great articles on restaurant social media usage:

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.