Social Media Tips for Restaurants
Social Media Tips for Restaurants
The importance and power of social media has grown exponentially in the last decade, and its potential for making a business successful is a widely accepted fact. Restaurants are no exception. Traditional advertising certainly still has its place, and no amount of social media marketing will make up for poor food or service, but it is crucial for restaurants to use the influence of social media for their benefit; if they don’t, their business may be left out in the cold.
The best place to start is to figure out where to focus your social media efforts based on which demographics frequent which platforms; this matters because of how many sites have gained momentum in the years since Facebook was the only game in town. Your target clientele can give you all the information you need.
For example, according to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, urban residents between 18-29 most often use Twitter and Instagram while women under 50 can mostly be found on Pinterest and Facebook. Not surprisingly, since this survey was conducted, many more social media sites have popped up and become even more popular (i.e. Tumblr, Snapchat). Decide on a couple of sites that will work for your restaurant’s particular clientele, and make yourself visible there with interesting content.
So what content is interesting anyway? There are few basics that you should definitely make a part of your social media protocol, and everything else should come from what makes your business unique. Here are some basic ideas for interesting content that will make social media work for you:
- Menu – Don’t limit your menu just to your website; providing it on social media sites will allow you to reach a far greater audience. Potential new customers want to have a basic idea of what kind of food is served, price points, variety, and signature dishes to try.
- Mouth-watering food pics – Pictures featuring what your cuisine truly looks like when presented will give customers a more accurate idea of what their experience will be like and will entice them to give it a try. Combined with a fun hashtag, food pics are most effective and shareable on Instagram and Twitter.
- Provide specials for followers – Starbucks has mastered this concept, mainly by offering time-sensitive deals, such as any size frappucino for $1 between noon and 4:00. Unless you are following them on social media, you’re likely to miss out on such promotions. Offer these kinds of incentives frequently enough that people follow you AND share with friends to follow you as well.
- Offer incentives to share – There are several different ways to get your customers to share content about your restaurant on social media, which translates into cheap or free advertising. Create a simple but effective hashtag for customers to use when sharing so you and others can easily find all relevant posts. Provide exclusive discounts or a small item for free for customers that share content using your hashtag and/or user name. Random giveaways are effective as well; use an online random winner generator like Sweepjudge or Rafflecopter to choose a winner.
- Get the staff involved – People like to see what it’s like “behind the scenes” of their favorite movies and television shows; restaurants are no different. Share photos of your staff before opening hours prepping fresh ingredients for the day ahead, send out a sneak preview directly from the head chef about a new dish happening soon, or simply take pictures with customers to share with their permission.
Aside from the quality and taste of food served at a restaurant, service is possibly just as important. Use social media to engage with your customers. Ask for feedback on a daily special, respond to individual comments on a Facebook thread, reply to tweets that mention your username or hashtag, and rectify customer complaints if necessary. Customers will know you care about them even after they walk out the door and will therefore be more likely to return and spread the word about your business.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of Facebook. Even if you have a niche type of clientele, your Facebook reach could help grow your business beyond what you thought was possible. A few basic tips for using Facebook to drive your sales as recommended by the National Restaurant Association are as follows:
- Perfect your Facebook page – Your business page on Facebook should be just as effective as your website. Include an email tab, your full menu, hours, directions, and content posts.
- Put your regular menu in a tab – This makes it easily accessible and visible.
- Provide a Facebook offer for checking in – Encourage customers to check in to your location by offering exclusive deals. Facebook gives information about how to do this here.
- Link to your mobile app – Make this link prominent in its display and be sure it is functioning properly. More people are likely to visit your page from a mobile device and would prefer to use an app or mobile site for quicker access.
Using social media to your advantage will help you reach a wider audience and learn about how to keep them satisfied, interested, and wanting more. Get creative, avoid the oversell, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.
5 Helpful Twitter Users Your Business Should Follow
Vanessa O’Connell: @VanessaOConnell
Vanessa is a journalist at Wall Street Journal; that should be reason enough to be interested in following her Twitter feed, but there’s a lot more to tell. She is the entrepreneurship editor for WSJ, the creator of “The Accelerators” (a blog dedicated to start-ups), and was part of the small team of journal editors who launched the “Wall Street Journal Startup of the Year”. She coauthored the nonfiction book Wheelmen about Lance Armstrong, and lastly is a monitor for the WSJ panel “How I Built It” featuring well-known American entrepreneurs.
Rick Wartzman: @RWartzman
Rick Wartzman is a must follow. He is a contributor to @FortuneMagazine writing a colum titled Work 3.0, and he is the author of “The King of California” and “Obscene to the Extreme.” He is currently the Executive Director of Drucker Institute–Strengthening organizations to strengthen society. Rick’s Twitter feed is funny, honest, and full of helpful information for business owners.
Jeff Hoffman: @SpeakerJeff
Jeff is considered a business expert and has been on Fox News, CNN International, Bloomberg News, ABC and in publications including Forbes, Inc, Time, Fast Company, Wall Street Journal and many more. He has been the CEO and senior executive of many well-known startups, including Priceline.com. He serves on many charity and nonprofit boards, travels often as a keynote speaker at entrepreneurial and business leadership conventions. But there’s also the simple fact that his Twitter feed is probably the most lighthearted listed here. One of his most recent tweets is of him holding hands with the Dalai Llama in New York as he judged the Tibetan Innovation Challenge.
Rakia Reynolds: @RakiaReynolds
Rakia is the Twitter account you can’t miss. Her feed is personal, successful, and imaginative. While we’re talking about social feed, we’re also going to throw in that you’re missing out if you’re not also following her on Instagram. Rakia is the owner of SkaiBlue Media, a marketing agency for lifestyle, technology, and non-profit brands. Rakia is a very successful small business owner, and she’s worth a follow if you’re looking for more upbeat success stories in your feed.
Howard Lewinter: @HowardLewinter
CEO’s, Presidents, and business owners have called on Howard for over 25 years. He gives advice on business survival, stability, and profit turnaround. Howard’s motto on his Linkedin profile states, “If you’d like more success – more profit – less stress, then let’s talk.” He also hosts his own radio show called “Talk Business With Howard.” He has also been a contributing writer for the Linkedin Business and Selling Fearlessly blog. His Twitter feed has personal and motivational quotes, and many useful links to articles pertaining to running a successful business.
5 Things You Should Be Doing On Twitter
Nowadays, everyone can be found on a social media channel, and keeping up with the times means you have to be on several channels. But Twitter still reigns in many social circles as the best and fastest way to get the news you want to hear without having to scroll through your old college roommates posts. Here are 5 things you should be doing on Twitter to make your experience there worthwhile.
Hashtags are a way of Twitter life. Words (or phrases) that start with a pound are automatically turned into a link. You can now search through all the tweets that also used the same hashtag. Use tags in your profile bio to help you be seen in searches. Example: My name’s #Bob and I’m a lover of all things #Pizza.
Create Follow Lists
Again, one of the best features of Twitter is that you decide whose tweets you want to see in your feed. You can also very easily divide your users into “Follow Lists” to help sort through the tweeting madness. Name your lists and then place the accounts you follow into the appropriate lists. For instance, you might have a list for your News, Friends, and Technology. Creating your lists will help keep your overall tweeting experience enjoyable.
Subscribe To Public Lists
Just as you have created Follow Lists, other users create lists as well. You can make these lists public and follow other account’s lists. If you follow Mashable for example, you can look at their 30 public lists. You can easily follow their entire staff members, or just their interns, or the Mashable staff members that are at SXSW. Can you understand what a gold mine public lists can be?!
Upload Videos and Photos
It’s a well-known fact; tweets with videos and pictures garner more attention than words only. The Twitter app allows 30 second video creations, but you can also use Vine or other apps to help you get more from your tweets. This is also important because it helps you say more than your 140-character limit!
The search bar in Twitter seems pretty harmless and humble, but with a little know how, you can open doors you didn’t know possible! Here are a few hacks for the Twitter search engine.
Operator: “happy hour” | Finds tweets: containing the exact phrase “happy hour.”
Operator: love OR hate | Finds tweets: containing either “love” or “hate” (or both).
Operator: beer -wine | Finds tweets: containing “beer” but not “wine.”
Operator: #Puppies | Finds tweets: containing the hashtag “Puppies.”
Operator: “happy hour” near:”san francisco” | Finds tweets: containing the exact phrase “happy hour” and sent near “san francisco.”
Twitter has a lot to offer as a social media channel. So use it to benefit you and your company! Feel free to share any tricks you might have as well. Also, check out our free 30 day trial on What Time Do I Work Software!
How to Survive Bad Press Like a Pro
We are living in the age of the Internet: where all types of communication and attitudes are welcome, bad news actually does travel faster than the speed of light, and everyone waits in the shadows for an opportunity to hop on a good (or bad) story. You know you’ve seen it before; the little business down some street you’ve never heard of is suddenly the talk of the entire Internet. Everyone starts ganging up on the business sharing the story via Facebook and Twitter with posts encouraging everyone to stop being a patron. Then after you’ve seen the story show up in your feed for the third time in an hour, you decide to read the story, and you realize the way the business handled a situation was cringe worthy.
Let’s be honest, in the age of Internet, sometimes you won’t be able to stop some bad press from happening. There’s always going to be the outraged man who’s water wasn’t cold enough who fumed in your Yelp reviews. And don’t be too upset with the woman who keeps tagging your business on Facebook with hate posts, because truth be told, you probably won’t be able to make her happy. If you recall when Facebook would change their layouts, you would think a violent revolution was brewing based on the angry posts on your timeline. The internet makes it easy for people to indulge in anger, but eventually it all blows over. So here are some rules for dealing with bad press, and how to do it like a pro so that you can survive it and come out stronger in the process.
Don’t Bring Fuel To The Fire Fight
One thing you should always remember about the internet: there is always a user somewhere that will “out-insult” you, and wherever you are, once you bring your best fight, that user will come out of the shadows and find you. Bad press happens. As a business owner, NEVER turn to your caps lock or profanity. The only way all caps are acceptable are when driving the point home to never reply to a customer IN ALL CAPS. Keep your cool, which leads us to our second rule.
Pick Your Battles Carefully
While you’re remaining cool, calm, and collected, still choose your battles wisely. The barrage of commenters will likely not back down, even if you are using legitimate arguments for reasons your business is being portrayed in an ugly light. Do spend time if necessary commenting on the situation, but don’t feel like you need to get into a comment battle with every individual with an opinion. Another option in these situations is to hire an outside PR agency to handle communication.
Sometimes It’s Best Not To Say Anything
No one is forcing you to say anything at all, and sometimes you may find the odds are in your favor if you’re silent anyway. Again, the users of the Internet will comment until they’re blue in the face whether or not you’re an active participant. Standing in the shadows quietly until the waters have calmed is never a bad idea.
Your Silence Is A Good Time To Listen
If you do choose silence as a strategy, this is a good time for you to listen to your customers. Don’t try to read every comment on the Internet, but do try to seek out your customers and listen to ways their experience with your business could be made better. At this step, your job is not to try and fix your bad press, or to make the press go away. Your job is to just listen.
Find Opportunities To Grow
After the bad press starts to calm down, you’ve carefully chosen which battles to engage, and you’ve spent time listening to your customers, take this as an opportunity to come on the other side of this bad press as a better business owner. Take everything you learned during your time in front of the bad press spotlight to come back as a stronger business and business owner. Be honest about what took place, how you handled the event, and lastly what you’re doing to be a better business. Your customers will appreciate your honesty, and the Internet commenters will slither back into their shadows and await their next victim.
If you have any stories, experiences you can share, feel free to leave them in the comments!
5 Businesses that are Making the Best Out of Instagram
You’ve seen Chick-fil-A’s mouth-watering pictures of perfectly lined up peaches announcing the return of their peach milkshake. Or Taco Bell’s delicious iced slushes that are sprinkled all around their Instagram feed that contains close to a thousand posts. And Burger King’s Instagram is sure to make you drop whatever you’re doing and head out for a burger right now.
Think your small business could never get thousands of followers?
Here are a few small businesses that are winning at Instagram.
The beautiful thing about Beautiful Booze, is that owner Natalie Migliarini, started her home cocktails as a hobby. Her hobby grew into a full out cocktail recipe and styling career because of her ability to show her passion through her work. One look at the @BeautifulBooze Instagram and you know Natalie is passionate about all things alcohol! Beautiful Booze shows off her craft cocktails by adding perfect backdrops and small props. Take one look at the @BeautifulBooze Instagram feed and we’re pretty sure you’ll be sampling some of her delicious cocktail recipes.
In addition to the great wordplay in their business name, Franktuary is a hot dog restaurant and food truck located in downtown Pittsburg. They skillfully use their Instagram account to showcase their on the road food truck photos, as well as many perfectly plated meals from their restaurant. Franktuary makes sure show their followers all aspects of their small business; they leave nothing out. From the hand crafted cocktails, to the franks and fries, and the behind the scenes food truck photos, you’re sure to get a taste of their business from their Instagram.
Bon Puf is located in Los Angeles, and (as you may have guessed from their name) is an artisan cotton candy business. The @Bonpuf Instagram feed is as perfect as you might imagine. All their photos are filtered just right so everything feels pastel and light. While many of the photos are of cotton candy, they don’t leave out every opportunity to show off their work behind the scenes: cone wrapping, sugar flavoring, and cart locations. @Bonpuf Instagram has perfected keeping with their brand on Instagram.
Don’t be tricked by their over 62k followers; Plated is a small business that was started in 2012 (just three years old!). The business took off because of the desire of many people wanting to cook great meals at home, but their social media suaveness definitely helped in their success. The @Plated Instagram feed is hundreds of beautiful photos of well-plated food. Their pictures show exactly what the customer would be able to eat by the work of their own hands with Plated. They are the perfect combination of artwork and enticing advertising.
It’s coffee, and how many pictures can you take of coffee, right? Wrong. Counter Culture defies everything you think you know about your coffee by way of their Instagram feed. Coffee throwdowns, climbing mountains with coffee farmers, iced coffee, pour over coffee, and the list goes on. Counter Culture does more than just take great pictures of coffee, they take an opportunity to enrich and educate their followers about their coffee business. @CounterCulture shows that their coffee is more than just a business; it’s an adventure!
It’s no secret that Instagram has taken over every smart phone in the world. When starting your small business Instagram, be sure to first think of your brand and how you want the world to see your business. Show off what you do best by sharing photos of your products (before and finished!). Share your newest achievements, biggest events, and location upgrades. Whatever you do, be sure to share what’s fun about your small business!