Social media is an inevitable part of running a business. Whether your business is active on social media or not, you can be sure that your guests are tweeting, posting, and Instagramming about your restaurant online.
For many restaurant operators, managing social media profiles is just another item on the increasingly long list of “things to do when I have time to even think.” For others, social media marketing is a priority in their business development and something they spend agood deal of time investing in. It is from these gurus that we can take inspiration and motivation.
Use these examples to inspire your restaurant social media marketing efforts and apply them to your own business.
1) Respond to Yelp! Reviews
What: The managers at Paris are constantly monitoring their Yelp business page. A Paris employee responds to every single review, the good and the bad, with a personal response addressing the reviewer’s comments.
Why it’s awesome: By addressing negative reviews and showing appreciation for positive ones, the Paris team has created a transparent and friendly persona online. They’re not afraid to talk about their flaws and make a public attempt to improve upon them. The managers on Yelp! use any negative reviews as an opportunity to learn about their business and to turn naysayers into brand advocates. Even if you’re not able to address every post on your Yelp! page, it’s a good idea to address your disgruntled customers and to try to turn that relationship around.
The manager’s diplomatic and helpful comment on this post inspired the reviewer to slightly retract his harsh comment and to change his review from 2 to 3 stars.
2) Offer Exclusive Coupons to Social Followers
Who:A-Aki Sushi & Steakhouse
What: When fans “Like” A-Aki on Facebook, they are offered an exclusive coupon for $10 off their next order.
Why it’s awesome: This strategy is awesome for a couple of reasons. First, A-Ali is rewarding their social media network and showing their appreciation. Additionally, discounts and coupons are likely to be shared among friends and can inadvertently increase the size of the restaurant’s network overall. Most importantly, deals like this drive business to the restaurant. According to a study from Whaleshark Media, 74% of active coupon users indicated that they would be likely to try a new brand if they received a coupon or promotion code. If social media followers come in because they have a coupon, then the restaurant has the opportunity to create a positive experience and the chance to win their business again.
Here’s a tutorial on how to set up coupons for your Facebook fans.
3) Compile Guest Photos
What: This restaurant capitalized on the fact that Instagram was basically built for people to share photos of their food. Using the hashtag #catch122menu, Catch 122 compiled an Instagram stream of photos guests had taken of their food. The gallery is also available for viewing on the restaurant’s website.
Why it’s awesome: This is a fun project for guests and also gives Catch 122 a beautiful database of photos of their menu items. It gives guests an opportunity to participate and is also free marketing for the restaurant.
4) Ask Guests to be Evangelists
What: Sqirl chefs were nominated for the EaterLA Awards. They shared their excitement and asked their followers to vote on social media. Calling out chefs by name, Sqirl posted a candid call-to-action for fans to show their support.
Why it’s awesome: Social profiles are a direct link to your guests when they’re not in your restaurant. If you’ve developed a personable and friendly persona online, followers will be happy to support your business. This example is particularly awesome because, with the help of the restaurant’s social following, Sqirl’s Jessica Koslow ended up winning the award for best Chef in LA!
5) Spotlight Your Employees
Who:Mei Mei Street Kitchen
What: At the end of the year, Mei Mei was showered with awards and recognition for their creative ingenuity and use of sustainable ingredients. Two of their employees were featured in Zagat’s 30-Under-30 Awards. The restaurant gushed about it on social media, naming names and publicly congratulate their team.
Why it’s awesome: Profiling the people behind any business is a great way to humanize the experience for customers. Whether or not your team is winning awards, posting pictures from “behind the scenes” or sharing funny anecdotes about the staff can make followers feel more connected to the business and the people that make it possible.
6) Ask Questions to Engage Followers
Who:GRK Greek Kitchen
What: Improve engagement on social media by asking fun questions and encouraging responses. Followers are more likely to remember the content of the post, like the delicious froyo toppings at GRK Kitchen, if they interact with it in some way.
Why it’s awesome: Social media is about more than just telling your followers what’s happening at your restaurant. It’s also about listening to them. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a great way to create a two-way dialogue with your customers. Ask questions like “fill in the blank,” “what is your favorite item?” and “what item would you like to see on our menu?” to inspire followers to engage with your posts and to interact with you rather than simply continuing to scroll down the page.
7) Use Trending Hashtags
Who:Five Napkin Burger
What: When social media was abuzz with the “Blizzard of 2015” hitting the east coast this year, Five Napkin Burgers chimed in on Twitter using the already trending hashtags and a photo of one of their delicious burgers.
Why its awesome: Jumping on topics that are already trending on social media is a great way to increase exposure for your posts, especially if you have a clever take on the topic. Marketers call this strategy “newsjacking” and use it as a way to be seen by everyone following the popular trend.
8) Host Social Media Contests
What: Everybody loves free sandwiches! Capriotti’s uses fun games like caption contests for food coupons to engage followers. They select a winner for the most creative comment and send them a coupon to use the next time they visit the restaurant.
Why it’s awesome: There are a million types of contests you can run on social media. They’re quick wins for both the restaurant and the fans. By asking guests to participate in fun trivia questions, riddles, fill-in-the-blanks, photo contests (see Example #3), or caption contests, the restaurant is building rapport with guests and encouraging engagement online.
While starting and maintaining a vibrant social media network can seem like a daunting task, the bottom line is that it’s about people. Social platforms provide a direct line of communication with existing and potential customers. Use these examples of social media for restaurants as inspiration to kick your business’s social media marketing into shape.