It may have been spurred by a recent blog that discusses corporate wrangling for field marketers, but on three separate occasions in the last couple weeks I have been asked the same exact question: “Do you do restaurants?” This got me thinking: Why is there such a polarizing discrepancy between restaurateur adoption of social media marketing?
For some, social media is a priority in their business development--if not the unequivocal reason for their fame (See also: Jon Favreau's movie 'Chef')--and certainly something they’ve organically built into their marketing plans. And yet for so many others, it seems like managing social media activities and profiles is just another item on the increasingly long list of to-dos.
As a veteran restaurant marketer, I’ll give you my two cents. In today’s digital awareness it might seem obvious to most, but either way, the need to focus on the immediate gratification of customers takes precedent. Ensuring the overall experience, from meal quality to service and then keeping all food/labor costs in line for budget will always rule the day.
At Social Forces, we believe restaurant marketing strategy must first and foremost support the overall customer experience--from the pitch to creative execution. It’s what our team uses to derive inspiration, motivation and ultimately, how we utilize social media marketing to increase sales at each location.
Here are some of our best practices that may inspire your restaurant’s marketing efforts by applying them to your own business:
Start with a Strategy to Create a Consistent Voice - Determine which channels make sense and work on a plan.
Respond to Online Reviews - Good or bad, this provides opportunity to win someone over and show you care.
Share Customer-Generated Content - People feel good when you share or promote them as part of your business.
Offer Exclusive Coupons to Social Followers - Who doesn’t want to be a VIP?
Ask Guests to be Evangelists - Word of mouth is still a key in the digital age and not a replacement.
Spotlight Your Employees - Your customers probably better relate to your staff.
Capitalize on Trending Topics - You don’t need to lead but following enough can be helpful.
Ask Questions to Engage Followers - Be an actual part of your community.
Host Contests - Reward folks for sharing, commenting and enjoying your Page(s).
Use Video to Bring the Brand to Life - Short videos to give shout-outs, share new menu items or provide recipes can go along way.
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 best practices of social media for restaurants as inspiration to kick your business' marketing into shape. If it still seems like too heavy a burden, call us at Social Forces and we’ll help ease you into the social media customer conversation.
Ari Rothman is the VP/Accounts & Marketing Services at Social Forces, and a 20+ year CPG/retail and restaurant marketing veteran with account experience in integrated social media platforms and now leads new business development. To contact Ari or hear more about Social Forces email Ari@SocialForces.com or call 813-775-2282 Ext. 700