How to Use Social Media for Your Restaurant

How to Start a Social Marketing Campaign for a Restaurant

Social media can help increase restaurant sales
••• Kai Stachowiak via Pixabay

Advertising and marketing for a restaurant used to be so simple. Some radio spots, newspaper ads, and perhaps an occasional TV commercial. Today, with the Internet and mobile devices connecting everyone at all times, there seems to be 1001 ways to advertise a restaurant. Does your restaurant have Friends on Facebook? Does it Tweet on a regular basis? Are people Yelping about it? Is it Pintresting? Get my point?

So, where do you begin? As a restaurant owner you are, most likely, already strapped for time. Posting to a bazillion different social media sites may seem like one more thing to add to your endless to-do list. But social media isn’t going away. It’s more common to Google a restaurant’s name than to look it up in the Yellow Pages. Even if you already have a website (if you don’t, please go here) social media can help build your online reputation further, bringing in more business.

What is Social Media?

Old media strategies were basically businesses announcing themselves to the public, selling their products and services. This was done through traditional print campaigns as well as TV commercials and radio spots. Consumers, though swayed, viewed these ploys as an interruption in their daily life. New media, that is since the internet came on the scene, is all about a dialogue between consumers, concerning a business, product or service. This new, permission-based style of marketing lends itself perfectly to restaurant industry, where word-of-mouth advertising often produces better results than a traditional marketing campaign.

A social marketing campaign using new media utilizes sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Yelp,Foursquare, Stumblupon, Revver, and Instagram. The list goes on and on. These sites piece together online conversations and images and help build an online identity of your restaurant.

How Can Social Media Help Your Restaurant

Social media sites can help drive traffic to your website, where people increasingly look for basic information, like phone number, address, driving directions and menus. Social media can also be used to announce upcoming events, like Mother’s Day or a wine tasting. It allows you to post daily and weekly menu and drink specials. More innovative uses of new media include posting recipes, video tours of the kitchen, or a video of the chef doing a cooking demo. You can host various contests on your social media sites, encouraging your customers to participate.

Social media also promotes good customer service, encouraging customers to comment on their interactions with your restaurant. It also gives you a chance to address customer complaints. If a customer took the time to air a grievance about your restaurant on your Facebook Wall, for example, you can address it immediately and offer a solution. This not only shows the customer you value their opinion and their businesses, but everyone else that follow your site as well.

How to Get Started With Social Media

If you are brand new to social media, start with one or two accounts, like Facebook or Twitter. Decide how frequently you should post your status updates and tweets. Updating before each lunch and dinner shift makes sense, as a way to let customers know what the specials are or other current events. Pictures are also important for your social media sites. Make sure that you have some good quality photos of your restaurant, staff, and menu items. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer.

All you need is a digital camera and basic knowledge of photo editing. Chances are there is a burgeoning photographer among you staff who would love to snap some photos and edit them for you.

Social media is all about an open dialogue- i.e. retweets, responding to customer comments on your wall. Set aside a few minutes a day (10-15 minutes should do) to update and connect with customers. This will help them feel more connected to your restaurant and establish a brand loyalty that old media advertising can’t do.