In a digital world where anything and everything is right at your fingertips via your Smartphone, the internet now serves as one of the most engaging and influential platforms for human connection.
For restaurant and business owners alike, creating and implementing a social media marketing strategy is essential for a brand’s success, in order to remain relevant to consumers.
Social media platforms now have become the most influential way to advertise and market to consumers, as a recent report in the New York Times shows that 72% of consumers use Facebook to make restaurant and food-related decisions based on comments and images shared by others, and 70% of consumers research a brand on Instagram before purchasing the product or visiting their website.
So, what does this mean for restaurant owners?
It means that selling food isn’t enough in these days – restaurants need to sell experiences instead.
For many consumers, social media platforms are a way to share their dining experience with their friends and broader online community.
Each time a guest posts a photo of a dining experience or dish, this type of positive social media brand awareness can convert to followers, potentially leading to new customers!
Picture this scenario:
It’s Friday night, 8:45 PM—do you know where your friends are?
Mine just checked in on Facebook to our favorite restaurant up the road.
Thanks to the restaurant’s social media accounts, we all know tonight’s special is buy two appetizers get two free, and that our favorite drink is two-for-one until 10 PM.
That’s one reason why it’s so important for restaurants to have, and strategically manage, their social media accounts.
It’s more than just about “being” online for people to “like” you; it’s about creating a relationship with them through social media posts that gives consumers something to look forward to.
Creating a loyal fan base has become synonymous with creating an ongoing revenue stream.
Sure, it’s great to promote specials and give people a place to “check in” to, but that is only just the beginning of what it can do for your business.
Here are a few simple first steps, whether you have existing accounts or are just starting out in the social media world:
Own Your Online Presence
Did you know 68% of all US adults are online? And of that population, 79% use Facebook?
Your prospective fans are online, and they need to be able to find you.
If they searched your name today, what would they find?
Do your website and social media accounts present your brands in the right way? Are they consistent with each other?
Remember- consumers can’t follow you and help promote your brand if they can’t find you.
Look at your social media accounts and make sure they all have a similar look and feel. You want your customers to pick you out of the millions of restaurants online- make sure your profile picture, colors, messaging, and everything about your brand remains consistent across all social media channels.
Create a Social Media Strategy
Why do consumers love your restaurant? What’s causing your repeat customers?
Do you have a signature mouth-watering dish that keeps them coming back, or is your restaurant the place to hear the hottest band on a Saturday night?
Find your niche and decide how you want to position yourself online before you start posting. It helps to have an objective third party to help you define metrics regarding overall goals – and the posts that can help you meet them.
Now if you don’t know why they love you, ask them!
Your POS system can help gather valuable customer information, like email addresses, so you can send them a survey after their visit to find out what they truly thought about their experience.
Restaurant point of sale systems can also track information like birthdays, favorite meals, and other usable customer data to help your employees create a memorable moment for your guests, not just another meal.
A cloud POS system makes that data available in real-time across multiple locations – so your fans can rack up those points at any location!
Make Your Fans Feel Special
Once you have a social media plan in place and a loyalty program to promote, it’s time to use your accounts to start attracting guests.
Here are three things to remember:
- Maintain a regular post schedule: posting too much or not often enough can lose fans. Aim to share some quality content at least three times a week.
- Never waste their time: show your customers how much you care about their time and newsfeed by only sharing the very best content.
- Ask for their feedback: social media is a great way to see how they liked the most recent menu change or what wine they would like to see behind the bar. Ask them! Your customers have opinions and would love to be a part of the conversation.
Do you have regulars who have favorite tables or a reserved spot at the bar?
Social media is perfect for sharing pictures of familiar faces, both of customers and staff, to remind people why your restaurant is more than just a place to eat; it’s a community that cares about one another.
Once you add these pictures to your profile (with permission, of course), these patrons can share them with family and friends to promote your brand to audiences you may not have seen otherwise.
Do you really want to make them feel like they’re part of the family? Ask them to join your club!
Creating a loyalty program using your restaurant point of sale system can help reward your best customers through point systems that will keep them coming back for more.
These programs can offer freebies once they reached a certain point level, maybe a weekly discount, or perhaps put them in the lottery for a big prize. It’s all up to you!
With cloud POS systems, you create the loyalty program that best fits your business. Once it’s up and running, social media is a great way to spread the word about joining the club.
There are a multitude of ways to use social media to engage your customers online. Whether you use it to share pictures of your best meals, announce specials, promote your loyalty program or simply thank your fans; your social media posts will keep them interested in what you have to offer and engaged with your brand.
As one final tip, remember to keep everything integrated! Your social media posts and interactions should match up consistently with what you’re offering in-store.
Making sure your point of sale platform is consistent with your brand and your social posts will keep consumers interested, and keep them coming back!
Content updated on February 13, 2019