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 simple. Radio spots, newspaper advertisements, and perhaps an occasional television commercial were all that was needed to advertise your business. Today, with the internet and mobile devices connecting everyone at all times, there is a much more efficient, immediate way to communicate with customers. Perhaps your restaurant has Friends on Facebook or Tweets on a regular basis. People may even be Yelping about it.

Given the rising popularity of the internet, where it's now more common to Google a restaurant's name than to look it up in the Yellow pages, it is important that you join a few select social media sites and regularly post information about your restaurant as part of a good advertising strategy. Even if you already have a website, social media can help build your online reputation further, bringing in more business.

What Is Social Media?

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

A social marketing campaign involves using online media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Yelp, Foursquare, and Instagram. These sites can piece together online conversations and images and build an online identity for your restaurant.

How Social Media Helps Your Restaurant

Social media sites can help drive customer traffic to your website, where people search for contact information, driving directions, menus, and events. It is a great tool for posting attention-grabbing messages, photos, and videos to generate customer interest. Innovative uses of social media include posting special recipes or videos of kitchen tours or cooking demos, or even hosting a contest where customers can win a free drink or meal.

Social media is not only useful for attracting customers but is helpful in ensuring they keep coming back. Social media sites encourage customers to comment on their interactions with your restaurant, which can help gauge their satisfaction. It also gives you a chance to handle customer complaints, which you can address immediately and offer a solution. This shows your customers and others reading your posts that you value your customers' opinions.

How to Get Started With Social Media

If you are new to social media, you can start with one or two accounts, such as Facebook or Twitter, and decide key times to post your status updates and tweets. For example, posting updated information before each lunch and dinner shift lets customers know about specials or other current events. Also, posting some good quality photos of your restaurant, staff, menu items, and past events, can enhance your online identity.

Social media is all about an open dialogue between you and your customers. As part of your business strategy, it's important to devote a certain amount of time to interacting with your customers online through, say, retweets, "likes," and responses to comments. This will help customers feel more connected to your restaurant and establish brand loyalty, which likely occurred more slowly through traditional media.