How to Build a Restaurant Social Marketing Plan

A tree connecting to various social media types
••• Gerd Altmann/Pixabay/Public Domain

Restaurants can use social media to build a strong online presence, which in turn establishes brand loyalty with existing customers and attracts potential customers. Social media marketing campaign offers restaurants an opportunity to sell their product and services (think beyond the dining room to catering, merchandise, and gift certificates). Social media utilizes sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Yelp, Foursquare, StumbleUpon, and Instagram. These sites piece together online conversations and images and help build an online identity for businesses.

It also acts as a way to measure business growth and see if the social media strategies are successful or need tweaking. Finally, social media allows restaurants to check up on the competition.

There are four parts to a successful social media marketing campaign.

  1. Audience
  2. Message
  3. Concept
  4. Competition

Each of these areas will help you reach your overarching goal of keeping and attracting new customers. Read on for more about the four parts of social media marketing at your restaurant.

Who’s Your Audience?

The first step in planning a social marketing campaign is to decide who you are trying to reach. Different social networking sites can help you reach various audiences. Therefore it’s important to know who you are trying to woo to your restaurant. Is it the business lunch crowd? The after work drinks and dinner crowd? The weekend families or summer tourists? Your message (more about that below) will depend largely on the group you are targeting.

What’s Your Social Media Message?

Once you have established who it is you are trying reach, you need to decide on an appropriate message. It if it’s the lunch crowd, posting daily lunch specials and delivery schedules on weekdays are ideal. Restaurant food truck businesses use this method to alert their customers where they will be, each day. If you are looking to increase your weekend business, increase your postings on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays. Think outside the box with what you post as well. It doesn’t have to be a list of specials.

You could offer recipes from your chef or bartender, videos and photos of happenings around your restaurant or upcoming events. Read more about how to use social media at your restaurant.

What is Your Restaurant Concept?

If you are a hip and trendy bar, seeking to attract the hip and trendy twenty and thirty-something’s, the messages you create should be, well, hip and trendy. Posts or tweets should have a casual, friendly tone. It should also contain information pertinent to the audience. For example, ladies drinks are only a dollar during happy hour. If your audience is older, they may not appreciate the hipness of your message. Think a bar versus fine dining. You need to change your tone and vocabulary accordingly.

Check Out Your Restaurant Competition

What social sites, if any, are your fellow restaurants using and how are they using them? Follow their posts, twitters, and pins, and you may find some useful techniques to employ in your own social media campaign. While you don’t want to copy every method your competition uses in their social marketing campaign, you can borrow, improve and customize them to fit your concept. Following your competition’s social media campaign doesn’t have to always be about competition. You may find opportunities for collaboration, such as restaurant week or community fundraisers.

It’s important to remember that you should carefully plan a social media campaign before jumping online. Taking the preparation time to do so will help save you time in the long run, building an online presence and gaining followers.