Three Things You Should Be Doing Right Now at Your Restaurant

How to Use Social Media to Connect With Restaurant Customers

••• Alan Stanton

April 27, 2015

As a restaurant owner or manager, I know you’re busy. I know you’re beyond busy, but if you are looking for ways to engage customers – both old and new- there are few simple things you can do to garner more attention online, which can equate to more sales in-house. 

Taking Photos of Your Restaurant

People love pretty pictures. They love pretty pictures of food even more.  Thanks to Smart Phones/iPhones and Instagram filters it’s never been easier to take professional looking photos of your menu dishes.  Showcase daily specials and decadent desserts as a way to entice customers to come in for a visit. Along with food photos, photos of your staff having fun at work, still shots of your dining room, photos of customers enjoying themselves at your bar are all marketing opportunities. There are lots of restaurants who are using photographs to strengthen their brand and attract more customers. Check out @fog_citysf out of San Francisco, @Buvetten in NYC and @salvagebbq in Portland, Maine for examples of three different types of restaurants, whose concept and brand are well represented through photographs on Instagram.    

Along with Instagram, photos work well with other social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. Studies show that social media headlines (posts, tweets, etc… ) with photos engage followers x% more than just text alone. So if you want to connect with your customers (and potential customers) add posts with photos.  For example, post a photo of you daily lunch special and ask for feedback “What do you think of our new Avocado Spring Roll?”

Remember, the photos must look good. Snapping a photo of menu dish in the middle of dimly lit dining room won’t work. Natural light is best.  Check out About Photograph Expert, Liz Masoner for tips on .  

Asking for Customer Feedback

Social media is all about conversations. You want your customers talking about your restaurant and sharing good stories about their experiences dining with your staff.  Maintaining a presence on Facebook and Twitter is an invitation for feedback.  Many businesses don’t want to have a large online presence because they fear that people will post negative feedback on their sites.  This is a risk, definitely. But if people are talking negatively about your business, wouldn’t you want to know so you can help fix the problem and address complaints?  Chances are if someone posts a negative comment on your Facebook wall, your loyal customers will come to your defense, sharing their positive stories.  Read more about how to handle customer complaints.    

Sharing Some Recipe Love

Pinterest is filled with restaurant recipes – both “copy-cats” of restaurant chain favorites and original recipes from local eateries.  Why not share some of your house favorites?  Once you’ve uploaded photos and pinned recipes, share those links with your customers that they can find the recipe on your Pinterest board or website. 

Delegating to Your Staff

So, who has time to do all this social media while running a busy restaurant?  Delegating the above tasks to staff ensures that postings are done in a consistent manner, every day for sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Pinterest is a lower maintenance social media site. You can post a few recipes here there as you have time, with the appropriate photos attached.   If your budget permits, you could consider contracting with a communications company to maintain your social media profiles. However once a routine is established and person or persons is made responsible for posting on a daily business, it doesn’t take much time or money to maintain, and offers potentially big results.