Foodies everywhere have more options every day to choose from when it comes to dining out. Social media is now increasingly the space people go to find the hottest spots and new ideas about where to go for sushi, Mexican, Greek and Italian or even the trendiest tapas restaurant! As a result, if you plan on your Scottsdale restaurant (obviously this goes for ANY restaurant in ANY location but we’re trying to juice up our SEO having just moved to Arizona!) being popular and relevant, being active on social media is no longer an option. Here are 6 steps to help you establish a presence on these platforms and effectively market your business:
Step One: Get Crystal Clear on Your Brand Voice
With more and more restaurants opening every day, you need to know why your spot is unique and who you want to attract. Before starting any new marketing approach, it’s important to get as specific as possible about who you are, what you’d like to be for the community you serve, and why that matters. Ask questions ranging from the most simple – “what kind of food do you serve?” – to the more complex – “where do we want to be in 10 years?”. It’s also important to revisit this conversation regularly as your business evolves, as restaurants often take on characters over time that the business owner and investors might never have initially imagined.
Try at minimum answering the following questions, keeping in mind that the more specific and focused your response, the more helpful this exercise will be moving forward:
- What kind of food do you serve?
- What are your hours?
- What’s your price range?
- Who do you think you’ll NATURALLY attract to your business?
- Who would you IDEALLY like to attract to your business?
- What is the ambience/”vibe” of your spot?
Step Two: Choose Which Channels Fit Your Brand Voice
Based on your particular character and target audience, you can choose which channels are most relevant to your brand. Keep in mind that it is more than likely that people will mention or review (if they haven’t already) your business on all platforms. It’s best to have a presence in as many spaces as possible, but prioritize what’s most helpful and strategic for business development in terms of time and resources. For example, having a Facebook business page is smart for restaurants across the board. These profiles will pop up in Google searches of your business name and are a great source of information like business hours, general information, and location. If you have colorful, visually appealing food or a space that’s highly photographable, consider Instagram as a great resource for attracting new customers.
Keep thinking like the people you ideally want to attract, as you identified in Step One, and pinpoint what they might be most interested in seeing or what information they’d need in order to get to you.
Step Three: Put All Relevant Information on Your Social Media Profiles
Now take all the answers to the questions you answered in Step One and use them to fill out your profiles across all relevant channels. As mentioned before, completely fill out your Facebook Business page with your hours of operation, location, phone number, etc. If your restaurant takes online reservation bookings, you can add a “Book Now” button using Facebook’s call-to-action feature by following the steps here: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/312169205649942/?ref=u2u. Upload a copy of your menu and be sure to include a descriptive, though concise, explanation of who you are in the “Story” section. The goal here is to make it as easy as possible for customers to learn about, get to know, and make plans to visit your business.
For profiles on Instagram and Twitter, keep your bio clean and simple, though true to character, and be sure to connect your website and location, as well. By connecting a link to your website or Facebook page, you can prompt people to find the information they’re looking for without cluttering up your profile on a platform where images are the priority.
Consider creating a business profile on websites like Foursquare, Yelp and Zomato to make your business even more visible.
Step Four: Respond to All Reviews and Interactions
Social media platforms are increasingly used as tools for customer service and guest relations, so it’s important to be vigilant in these spaces. Guests will send questions, requests and comments via whatever medium they can, so be sure to create time for going through your Instagram Direct Message inbox, Facebook Messenger, etc. Facebook will even show page viewers how quick your response rate is, and keeping this number in the green lets guests know you respect their efforts to connect with you.
Stay vigilant about what guests are saying about your business by responding to posts you’ve been tagged in while going a step further and regularly searching platforms for your business’s name. When someone is motivated enough to share their experience with their friends, whether it’s positive or negative you want to be aware of it and connect with them. If it’s positive, you want to take the opportunity to harness that review and repost. If it’s negative, use this as constructive feedback for your business and staff, while also seeing how you might be able to win that guest back.
Step Five: Promote Your Business – What Should You Post?
Now that you’ve built a solid foundation for your social media presence, it’s time to get creative. What kinds of posts would your target audience want to see?
Customer Generated Content (a/k/a UGC, “user generated content”): While monitoring what conversations are happening about your business, you might come across a great picture a recent guest took of your mouth-watering burger and rave review on Instagram. Anything that’s good quality and fits what you’re trying to attract should be a priority repost. More often than not, people make decisions about where they want to eat based on what their peers are saying about it. Real experiences will garner interest and loyalty in ways other marketing strategies can’t, so never underestimate the power of word of mouth!
High quality photography of your food and space: Food photography is an entire industry in today’s social media universe. Since it’s easier and easier to take good-quality photos, don’t slack in this department. A lack of effort is easily seen when most of your patrons likely scroll through hundreds of images of delicious dishes a day. It can often be worth the investment to hire a photographer for a short session and get some professional images of some of your best menu items, which can be used on your website, profile pages and as social media content.
Nowadays, people are just as often going out to eat for how the space makes them feel as they are for the culinary experience. If your restaurant has an eye-catching entryway or unique decor, don’t doubt that your space could become the next major Instagram-able destination in your area.
Happy Hours, Menu Specials, and Special Occasions: Use your platforms to announce specials, events, and updates. If you have live music every Wednesday night, be reliable for posting about this week’s performer or group on your Facebook page. Ice cream flavor of the month? Post a picture on Instagram! Want to promote your happy hour specials? Regularly put out posts as reminders that your spot is where the deals are. If you’ll be showing the big game on your televisions, make sure to share when the watch party starts. This is especially relevant if you are trying to build a community around your business and win over regular customers. Stay interesting and relevant, and let all your followers know.
Discounts and Promotions: Consider hosting campaigns and competitions for your followers with a coupon or a discount as a prize. This can even be an opportunity to encourage more Customer Generated Content – who can post the best selfie with our giant milkshake? If you did have a watchparty for the Sunday game, tell everyone to take pictures in their team colors and tag your business, then offer the post with the most team spirit a round on the house.
Hashtags: Be sure to tag your posts with topics including what type of food you serve, what in particular you’re posting about, and any trending topics where you can jump in on the conversation.
Take Note of Who’s Doing It Well: Explore other restaurants and businesses in your industry and look at what they’re doing on social media that seems to be working for them. While always keeping your own content true to your particular business, get inspired by your peers and learn from their successes.
Step Six: Focus on Creating and Maintaining Relationships
Through all of these steps, keep in mind that having a solid presence on social media is about staying connected to your customer base and building relationships for the long term. While attracting a one-time diner is a success of sorts, it’s the loyalty and continued support from regulars that keep businesses alive and continues to generate positive word of mouth. If you keep this at the heart of all your post and online interactions, you’re setting yourself up for solid success.
And if all of this is just too overwhelming, contact Cherry Pie Social for a consultation and/or hire us to manage your streams and/or teach your internal team! — Text 505-469-4297 and Carole will respond quickly!