Why Is Social Media Marketing Important for Restaurants?
Social Media Marketing for restaurants is important because it’s your best tool for two-way communication between you and your customers. For the first time in history, restaurants can communicate with their customers on a larger scale, and customers can communicate back consistently. As you know, communication is essential to your restaurant’s success, and overall in your everyday life, because customers can provide you with useful feedback to help you better your business.
Customers Now Decide in Advance
Another aspect of why social media marketing is so important for restaurants is because customers eat with their eyes. They want to see what your dishes look like before walking through your door. They judge in advance how dishes are styled and how mouth-watering they look and decide, merely from glancing at photos, if they want to dine with you or not. Also, social proof is extremely important nowadays in their decision making; they want to know how many other customers are enjoying your food, and if they’re missing out. They do this by looking at tagged photos or by viewing the content from your posts.
Updated Information Prevents Potential Problems
With consistent social media marketing and regular posts, not only will you attract new customers, but also update the existing patrons who already follow you. Whether it’s a snow day or a holiday, all of your customers will want to know if you are open, closing early, or just opening a little bit late. Communicating the most updated information about your business is key to gaining and retaining your customers, because if your social media has the incorrect information or you haven’t updated your operating hours on special days, your customers will get mad and go elsewhere.
Why Reviews Matter
Reviews are a key component to success for restaurant social media because not only can initial negative reviews affect a business, but how the business replies is just as important. If you are in denial about every single negative review you receive, many customers will lose trust and not visit your establishment.
Oftentimes, at Golden Web Media, we compare the restaurant industry to Amazon when it comes to trust because customers want to know that they can trust a restaurant to resolve a situation in the best interest of the customer. What I mean is, if an order or experience went wrong, will it be fixed in a fast, professional manner like Amazon? Amazon will refund your order with no questions asked, and customers love this, so emulate those ideals and function in that fashion.
When an order is messed up, fix it right away in a professional manner. Replying to the negative feedback by apologizing for any inconvenience and giving an incentive to return will often turn a negative review into a positive one. You will also have created a satisfied customer for a lifetime because you regained their trust. Potential new customers who read your reviews will be impressed when they see how you handled frustrating circumstances.
How Restaurants Should Use Their Social Media
Share high-quality photos and videos, create awesome captions that make people want to engage with your posts, and reach out to the local social media community. Show customers enjoying your menu items and drinks, but make sure you have your customers’ complete consent before posting their pictures on your social media accounts.
Utilizing Behind-The-Scenes in Your Favor
Although it’s good to show behind-the-scenes moments and showcase your staff members, this can sometimes hurt your brand. For example, if your kitchen isn’t cleaned to perfection. Customers will be turned off to your food if your fryers haven’t been cleaned in a couple of weeks or your cutting boards are stained and filthy.
Customers notice everything, and I often see restaurants underestimating them, thinking they don’t know much. You must keep into consideration that they have probably been to many great restaurants in their lives and are comparing your restaurant’s efficiency, customer service, food styling, ingredient freshness, and food preparation to these other establishments, even before they walk through your door.
How often does your restaurant need to post on social media?
We advise the restaurants we consult with to post as frequently as possible, as long as it’s not repetitive and there is a strategy behind it. For establishments who work with us, we create the content for them based on their branding and preferences. At Golden Web Media, we recommended posting at least once a day. Many marketing agencies would advise clients to post 3-4 times a week for better engagement, but we believe differently. When an agency posts 3-4 times a week for their client, there are less expenses and higher profit margins for the agency, which is why most agencies charge much less, even if it’s not in the best interest of their clients.
7 Social Media Marketing Tips for Restaurants
1. Show Off What’s Behind the Scenes
- Customers want to feel like family, so make them feel like family! When a staff member has a birthday party in your establishment with cake, etc., you should share that with your customers on social media. Show how you prepare your dishes so they understand, feel involved, and see the love that goes into making these dishes. Keep in mind that your kitchen has to look extremely clean when you have a photo shoot or video shoot because customers will notice anything that isn’t up to their standards.
2. Respond to Online Reviews
- Social media marketing for restaurants relies heavily on answering positive and negative reviews. Restaurants may question the importance of answering positive reviews, but think of it this way: you are personally and individually thanking someone who took time out of their busy schedule to support you by leaving a positive review. That is invaluable!
- On the other hand, negative reviews take much longer to address because, generally, you will need to go back and forth with the customer to fix the situation. This sometimes takes hours, or even days, depending on the customer’s response time.
3. When to Ask Questions to Engage With Followers
- Asking a question that invites a response in your posts is not a good idea when your social media pages don’t have a lot of engagement or followers. We see this all the time. Some accounts ask questions on almost every post, and no one answers, which hurts their brand reputation. This highlights the fact that they don’t have a large following and that the following they do have doesn’t seem to care much. With that in mind, we recommend to start asking questions when you have a medium to large following that engages consistently.
4. Host Social Media Contests
- Social media contests are one of the best ways to grow your social media pages and market yourself—if done right. Again, if you don’t have much of a following, it’s going to be hard to get anyone to participate unless you create ads behind that social media contest. If you want to do this organically, be sure to have some engagement first, then start strategizing new, fun ways to get others to interact with your content so they can win a gift card or free pizza for the year, limited to one pie a week.
5. Have Creative Captions
- Let’s face it, most restaurant captions are boring and just name the menu items. Not to boast, but at Golden Web Media, we hire professional food writers and editors to make sure each caption is witty, fun, and informative. We also will include helpful information regarding how the menu item is prepared, which ingredients are included, and the menu item’s name, so customers can easily find it on the menu.
6. When To Create Ads
- Social media marketing for restaurants needs to have a targeted ad strategy, but the million-dollar question that few places ask is when the best time is to start those ads? When businesses start out, they don’t have a budget for social media marketing, which is fine because ads are important fuel to keep a fire going, but you need to start a fire before you can add more fuel. If you have a weak online presence and create ads, you are wasting your money, because when people come back to your pages and don’t see any high-quality content, images, or video, they are less likely to engage with or follow you.
7. Stop Promoting!
- Come on in! Buy from us! Buy now! Order today! You know you want this! Come on by! Call us today! Call us now! Reserve today! Reserve now! You get the point. As annoying and unpersuasive as these statements are, this is what we see on most restaurants’ social media, and quite frankly, it looks desperate. No one wants to go to a desperate restaurant. They want to go to a confident restaurant so they can show off to their friends. You will also not grow a big audience by using these phrases.
- With that said, you can have a call to action once in a while, but no one likes too much promotion or pushiness, especially on social media. A restaurant’s strategy should be to play it cool while standing out, instead of being disruptive with promotions. Social media platforms are platforms for being social and promoting communication, not platforms for selling.
By: Founder, Mina Ibrahim