Restaurant social media marketing is incredibly important for the success of your business or restaurant, especially since the vast majority of people look for restaurants online, spending hours on social media sites.
Key facts about social media marketing for restaurants
Social media marketing includes a wide array of platforms, and each one offers different ways to engage with customers. Instagram, in particular, has made an incredible impact on the restaurant industry. In fact, #food is one of the most popular Instagram hashtags in the world.
69% of millennial diners take a photo of their meal before eating it. Additionally, millennials dine out 20% more frequently than their predecessors, making the group a huge target market for restaurants. 30% of millennial diners actively avoid restaurants with a weak Instagram presence, and 49% of people search for restaurants on Facebook.
Key components of a social media marketing strategy
With any marketing strategy, the first step is to define your goals. Are you trying to grow your following? Increase your engagement rate? Drive pickup and delivery orders through social media?
Target market research will also help you decide which social media channels to focus on: Who is your target customer? Where do they spend time online?
Lastly, make sure you know how you're going to track your social media analytics. Each platform has its own built-in analytics, or you can use a social media monitoring platform to aggregate all channels into one dashboard.
Learning how to manage your social media and restaurant marketing presents an incredible promotional opportunity for your business. With these effective strategies, you'll learn how to build a social media following to drive new customers and establish customer loyalty for your restaurant.
You may be wondering how to grow social media followers and increase engagement. As the first basic step, make sure your social media profiles on all the major channels are up to date with your restaurant's business information, such as operating hours, address, website, and online ordering platforms.
To engage with customers organically, create special promotional offers to incentivize people to like or follow your restaurant, and take time to respond to people's comments on your posts. Continue to experiment with different types of content (e.g., mouthwatering food photos, behind-the-scenes staff pics, and new menu item announcements) as you learn how to increase social media followers.
Whether it's for social media ads, posts, blogs, or other channels, your content should be relatable and authentic to your brand. If your brand has a sense of humor, incorporate that into your social media strategy. If you are more of a fine dining restaurant, your posts should be beautiful and sophisticated.
Experiment across social channels
Explore different channels to find out what works for your business. If you're just getting started, the two primary channels that restaurant managers should focus on are Facebook and Instagram:
Organic engagement with social media can be quite slow at the beginning, so think of it as a long-term play. Posting videos on Facebook is a great way to engage followers, as social media posts with videos have 48% more views. One option is to use the Boomerang app to create fun GIFs (e.g., mini videos showing drizzling sauce or a sizzling dish). Facebook Live is another popular feature that enables restaurants to share content like a cooking class with a live audience.
To stimulate more interest in your Facebook posts, targeted ads can help you jumpstart your following. Keep in mind that Facebook ads must be closely monitored to ensure you are targeting the right audience. For overall Facebook analytics, there are built-in tools within Facebook called Facebook Insights that track your performance in a vast array of performance measures, including likes, views, follows, and demographics information.
Instagram is naturally suited to restaurants because people love to photograph their meals and look at other people's food photos. As a restaurant owner, you can post photos that capture your delicious food, the atmosphere of your restaurant, or patrons having fun. You can also take people behind the scenes by posting photos and videos that show the process of preparing various dishes.
To measure success on Instagram, closely monitor these key metrics:
Traffic: How many people viewed your posts
Engagement: How many people liked, commented, and shared your posts
Conversion: How many people actually clicked through to your website
Other platforms for customer engagement
There are many other social media apps that restaurants can tap into to engage guests. Two worth paying attention to are Snapchat and Pinterest.
Snapchat is a photo, video, and text sharing app favored by younger millennials and Generation Z, in which posts disappear after a few seconds. With 187 million users who send 9,000 posts per second, Snapchat is a great place to target customers among this demographic. Snapchat's location-based advertising feature is a particularly effective option for restaurants trying to tap into local markets. In addition to location targeting, foot traffic insights, and point radius targeting, Snapchat allows advertisers to create lookalike audiences based on past customer demographics.
To measure success in Snapchat, track the open rates (which show the percentage of your audience that engaged with your post), and then track screenshot rates. Since posts disappear after a few seconds, if someone screenshots your posts, you know they want to remember it for later. You can also track anonymized customer demographics.
Pinterest works quite differently than other social media channels. With Pinterest, users create virtual bulletin boards in which they arrange and "pin" related items of interest. Maximize your social media presence by creating a board that visually displays menu items and repinned content from other users, while engaging with pinners of relevant content. Measuring engagement is easy with Pinterest, which has analytics built into the app that track impressions, repins, and top pins.
Influencers can be highly effective in boosting your social media following if done with the right person. In fact, 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase decision based on a social media referral. Influencers can help you tap into this market by building credibility and reaching new audiences. There are several factors to consider when finding the right influencer:
First, do they have enough followers? They should have at least 10,000 followers, the level needed to have an impact on your target community. Or, if they have a smaller following, is their audience your target of local customers?
Second, since restaurants are focused on local marketing, look for an influencer in your geographic area.
Finally, work with influencers in a related genre—for instance, food bloggers who have a particular interest in your restaurant's type of cuisine.
Implement the four c's: creativity, consistency, connectivity, and customer
When applying these strategies for managing social media, remember the Four C's: Creativity, Consistency, Connectivity, and Customer:
Be creative and original in your social media posts to stand out from your competition.
Consistency is key. Once you have someone like a post or follow you on social media, give them a reason to keep looking with frequent posts of photos, updates, and promos. Also, maintain a consistent brand voice, tone, and image across your social channels.
Connectivity is essential for showing that you are relevant to all types of customers. Along with reaching out to potential customers and regulars, connect with other restaurants and foodie influencers within your neighborhood or niche.
Finally, it's crucial that you know your customer base to effectively target your social media campaigns and promos. Many social media applications offer very detailed analytics of fan demographics, and the more advanced features allow you to target very specific audiences.
Restaurants engaging in social media marketing have a huge advantage over restaurants that do not maintain their online presence. When you make an effort with these social media strategies, you'll see a steady increase in your followers who hopefully turn into regular customers. The key to success is a realistic social media marketing strategy that you can actually commit to in the long term.