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By Katherine Pendrill
Whether you’re offering dine-in service or focusing solely on takeout and delivery this season, you need to get the word out to your customers. This means you need to master restaurant social media marketing.
With 51% of US adults reporting increased social media use during the pandemic, restaurateurs have an opportunity to leverage social platforms to reach guests while foot traffic is down. Social media should be a top priority in your post-COVID restaurant marketing plan.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to use social media for restaurants with 15 tips to help you up your game and entice guests.
Drive sales and brand awareness with our free social media templates for restaurants.
Your time and resources are limited, so it helps to be strategic about where you focus your efforts on social media. Let’s break down a few different platforms and their benefits for your restaurant.
This visually-driven social network lends itself perfectly to photos and videos that will get guests craving your food and drinks. Instagram boasts 1 billion monthly users, and its users are 10 times more engaged with brands than Facebook users, which makes the social network a solid place to invest your restaurant’s time and energy.
If you’re wondering whether to prioritize your Instagram feed or stories, the short answer is that the best restaurant Instagrams do both. Your feed is an ideal place for branded evergreen content (think images of your signature dishes, and graphics that use your font and colors), which can help you capture the attention of new audiences through geotagging and hashtagging – but more on that later.
On the flip side, you can have fun and try new engagement tactics with stories. Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours and only your followers see them (unless you add them to your profile), so you can be casual and spontaneous without affecting your brand’s image.
Your restaurant social media strategy should include a Facebook page. Especially while we’re in the midst of a pandemic and information is changing quickly, guests will often look here to find your restaurant’s hours, address, and to get in touch with you directly in a way that doesn’t require a phone call (millennials and Gen Z, anyone?!).
You can take reservations directly through Facebook if you add a “Book Now” button to your page, and your guests can post reviews, which act as powerful social proof to entice new diners to your restaurant. You can also create events on Facebook that guests can RSVP to attend.
If you’ve got the bandwidth, Pinterest, Twitter, and TikTok are three other social networks you should consider. The former is a great place to share visuals with recipes, and has a strong female audience with 68% of U.S. women on the network, who often control household spending.
Twitter is an ideal platform to share quick updates with your followers, answer questions, and engage in conversation – especially “witty” is a good fit for your brand. The best part? More than 90% of Twitter users who follow small businesses plan to make a purchase from them.
TikTok marketing for restaurants is another great social platform where you can post short-form 15-second videos about your brand. Creators can add sounds, songs, special effects, and fun filters to their videos. Plus users can like, comment on, and share your content.
Now that you know where your restaurant should have a presence on social media, let’s dig into how to use social media for restaurants with 15 tips.
A glaring flash never did anyone any favors – your food included. While you don’t need to hire a professional photographer, you can elevate your restaurant social media game by making sure each of your photos is well-lit, in focus, and set against an appealing background (no messy tables or smeared sauces, please!).
Showing off your food and drinks should be a top priority on social media, but part of knowing how to use social media for restaurants includes sprinkling your logo and brand colors into your content. This is especially important for building brand awareness among new audiences who may not have dined with you before, and giving them a glimpse into your restaurant’s personality.
Consumers want video. Today, 81% of businesses use video in their marketing, and your restaurant should get on board this gravy train, too. Some of the following tips lend themselves well to video, like sharing your new restaurant initiatives and behind the scenes content. Remember, a video doesn’t have to be shot by a pro to be engaging – it just needs to be on-brand and deliver valuable information to your guests in an interesting way.
While some guests aren’t ready to dine with you just yet, others are excited to visit your restaurant and want to know what the experience is like nowadays. Social media is a great place to share this information. Post photos of your new patio setup, generate hype about your new menu items, and let guests know what precautions you’ve put in place to keep them safe.
Whether your guests dine with you in-house or not, they all deserve some love on social media. Takeout and delivery will likely be significant revenue streams for some time, so if you have suggestions for menu items that travel well, promote them to your guests on your social channels. You can share exclusive takeout deals and ask your customers for reviews. You can also get people excited about delivery by sharing photos of thoughtful packaging.
In times of uncertainty, people turn to social media for up-to-the-minute information. Your guests may not think to check your website for updates, but they’ll definitely check your social channels to find out what your hours are during the pandemic, and whether they need to make a reservation to dine with you. Social media is also an ideal place to communicate updates about the group sizes you’re currently accepting.
Almost 60% of marketers reported that social listening would be crucial in 2020. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can use free or paid tools to monitor online conversation and sentiment about topics related to your restaurant – for example, farm to table dining. You can then get involved in the conversation or create your own content around the topic. Social listening is a great way to get a sense for what your audience is interested in.
While you want to make an impression on your social media followers, you don’t want to annoy them by posting too often. You also don’t want to miss them completely by posting at the wrong time! If you can swing two posts per day on Instagram at a minimum, you’re doing well. On Facebook, two posts a day is a healthy maximum. The best time to post on both social networks is in the afternoon or evening.
Geotagging and hashtagging your Instagram posts help your restaurant’s content get found by new audiences who follow or search for those particular locations or hashtags. Be sure to separate your hashtags from your photo caption so they don’t clutter it up. The best restaurant Instagrams use a mix of hashtags that relate to the specific photo, the restaurant, the location, or popular Instagram hashtags such as #foodie or #photooftheday.
These days, it’s not enough to simply slap a restaurant social media profile up online and call it a day. You need to have someone (or a few people) responsible for monitoring your social channels and answering questions, responding to comments, and thanking guests for reviews. Social media is a two-way conversation. If you don’t engage with your followers, they may stop following you or visiting your restaurant.
You can take the previous step even further by sharing photos and videos created by your audience. This is an excellent way to celebrate your guests on social media and make them feel special. If you don’t have a ton of user-generated content, you can run a contest to encourage guests to share pictures of their favorite dishes with you and tag your restaurant in the photos.
Whether your restaurant has an open kitchen or not, you can give guests a glimpse into back-of-house operations by sharing behind the scenes content on social media, such as how popular dishes are created. If you choose to go this route, just make sure your kitchen is spotless and camera ready (and that includes everyone following proper physical distancing and mask wearing where possible!).
If your local newspaper is the only place you’re advertising your restaurant, it’s time to get online. Organic content (social media posts that you don’t pay to promote) is super important these days – a very genuine way to spread the word about your restaurant.
But if you want to really increase your reach, sometimes you need to put some money behind your content. That could mean paid ads on these platforms (which don’t get added to your feeds or stories), or “boosting” your organic posts so that similar audiences to your followers also see that content. It’s a smart move considering that for 74% of people, social media is a stepping stone on the path to purchase.
If your restaurant has the time and the budget to dedicate to working with a social media influencer, this can be a great way to expose your content to a new audience with similar interests to your current customers. Food influencers have loyal followings and the power to impact purchase decisions. Plus, they know how to make your food look amazing in their photos.
Social media shouldn’t be all about you. Posting shout-outs to your partners – other restaurants, suppliers, vendors, community groups – is an excellent way to build a network of local businesses and spread good vibes (and sales!). The bonus? If they return the favor, that’s free promotion for you!
Social media may look like fun and games from the outside, but it takes thoughtful, consistent effort to create an online presence for your restaurant that successfully engages your current guests and attracts new ones. It’s important to remember that you can do more harm to your brand than good if you don’t take the time to get it right.
Luckily, you don’t have to recreate the wheel to find success on social media. Download TouchBistro’s social media templates to learn the best ways to post your current menu and promote online offers, how to share new safety initiatives, ways to give your profile a more human feel, and top tips for each platform. We’ve got your back – now go have fun with it!
Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.
By Dana Krook
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