One of the most layman statistics associated with restaurants revolves around failure – around sixty per cent of restaurants fail within their first year of opening. With such potential for disaster, it is vital that aspiring restauranteurs pursue marketing strategies that allow their business to stand out from the competition.
Social media offers a convenient and affordable platform through which entrepreneurs are able to reach out to a broad audience. The overarching goal here is, of course, to engage patrons in a manner that has them coming through your doors (where your quality cuisine will, of course, have them coming back for more). While this may sound simple on paper, in reality, it can be difficult to develop a social media strategy that fulfils your aspirations to increase awareness, build your brand name, and generate a positive and engaged batch of regulars.
Fortunately, Gled Media has been working with a number of high-profile restaurants for years, and, as a result, we have concocted the perfect recipes needed to push any eatery brand towards success.
Before we dive into the platform-specific strategies, we always recommend that you take a step back so as to put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Ask yourself some important questions – what do you personally value in a restaurant? Would you want to attend a friendly, neighborly restaurant, or are you drawn towards high profile dining establishments? If your profile does not match that of your average customer, then you may be approaching your business from the wrong angle.
Ultimately, the perception that you want the public, and potential patrons, to have of your restaurant is up to you. In general, we find that promoting the establishment as a warm, welcoming part of the community is a good initial stepping stone. If you happen to have an employee who has been working there for quite some time, and would not mind being the smiling face of the business, you can even consider tailoring posts to be based around their experiences (and why they enjoy their job). Keeping your kitchen staff on board with your social media strategy can be very helpful as well – they are the ones cooking up the Insta-worthy food that is going to influence some hungry clients-to-be.
Pretty much everyone and their dog is on Facebook these days. This is very fortunate due to the fact that everyone (and their dog) is a candidate to be enticed by your phenomenal dining establishment. Consider the following:
- Your cover image is the first thing that the curious will see upon clicking onto your restaurant’s page. Use this to your advantage by treating viewer’s eyes to a delicious staple from your menu, a picture of your patrons having the time of their lives, or new and/or special items coming fresh from the kitchen.
- The page tabs provide an incredible opportunity to think like your customer. Use these customizable tabs to your advantage by promoting your specials, location, and interesting or unique menu items.
- Help drive up the number of ‘likes’ your page receives by hosting sweepstakes and contests through the platform. Most people will be driven to click the like button if it gives them the opportunity to win something delicious. The more ridiculous the contest, the better. Restaurants offering a free meal a day for one year are priming themselves up for a ton of likes, shares, and comments.
- Facebook offers a back-end for business pages that can help you direct your marketing efforts towards the locals who will be ultimately visiting your establishment. Geo Targeting allows you to create ads that can only be viewed by people in a certain location. Unless you are a chain, or intend on drawing patrons from across the province, this is always a recommended tool to attract residents nearby.
- Successful social media posts are those that are image oriented. Any Facebook strategy should revolve primarily around pictures and videos of your edible products and those who cook them. Visual content is the best content, and you should always keep an arsenal of high quality photos handy so as to attract the eye of the casual scroller. One simple way to attract clients new and old is to post a ‘lookbook’ that documents every one of your menu items.
The great thing about creating a social media strategy for your restaurant is that Facebook and Instagram intermingle with one another. Pictures that you plan on posting on one certainly looks great on the other, plus, users are able to share content across either platform. This is a great help when it comes to the art of creating images that appeal to the hungry consumer. With that being said, there are couple nuances that Instagram users should be aware of in order to maximize the reach of their page:
- Unlike Facebook, Hashtags are a big deal on Instagram. They can help increase awareness of your restaurant and allow you to develop a brand image.
- Running a successful Instagram account involves keeping an eye on Trending Hashtags . These will give you insight into what the rest of the population on the platform is talking about, and allow you to tailor your posts accordingly. Fortunately, there are a lot of re-occurring dates and tags that emerge on a cyclical or annual basis. Take #nationalcheesecakeday, mark it on your calendar, and be sure to keep a photo of your finest dairy based desert handy for the occasion.
- Your location can once again be tailored to your advantage through the use of niche hashtags. If you operate in an area with it’s own hashtag, or, better yet, a food-centric hashtag (think #NYbagels), then make sure you load up your posts with it. Someone scrolling through Instagram on their phone may find your establishment simply by stumbling across these local tags.
- Nothing will help promote your page quite like customer engagement. Encourage your patrons to post pictures of their favourite menu items, drive people to your business through contests and sweepstakes, and create your own custom hashtags! The possibilities are virtually endless, and, with a little creativity, you can make some moves that will propel your restaurant to new heights.
- People are drawn in by the hard-working acts of others. If you are hanging around the kitchen, remember to keep your phone handy, as there may be the perfect photo opportunity just around the corner. A simple picture of your head chef tossing up a meal could be that ‘person-centric’ image that bumps you up the algorithmic scale.
If we were to summarize the restaurant business in one word it would be: competitive. With sixty percent of dining establishments shutting down within their first year of opening, it is essential that eatery owners use exceptional marketing to their advantage, or else risk becoming a statistic. Thankfully, launching a game-changing social media strategy is not rocket science. By following the aforementioned tips, we hope we have given you, the aspiring restauranteur, the advice needed to launch a social media spectacle that will keep your reservation list long for years to come. Until next time, bon apetit.