When it comes to embracing the potential of social media marketing, no other industry has quite captured it like the restaurant industry. Businesses of all sectors can learn a lot from looking at how restaurants are using social media effectively.
Cafes and restaurants have leveraged each nugget of potential that social media offers, landing them firmly in that sweet spot where consumers not only expect their presence in social media feeds, but welcome it.
So, how exactly are restaurants playing this social media marketing game so well? What are they doing to be so embraced by social media? And, most importantly, how can you do it too?
Focusing Efforts and Energy on Just A Few Platforms
You won’t find many restaurants with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, YouTube and Vine accounts. Even a full-time social media manager would struggle to keep up with all of those.
Effectively using social media means quality over quantity. While "The Big 3” – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – might be the most common platforms to maintain, you might decide that your restaurant/business would benefit more from a different platform.
Think about your branding and your audience. A beautifully curated collection of recipes from your eatery on Pinterest or regular videos of your cafe on YouTube might be just as successful for your business as a regular Twitter feed. As long as your content is enjoyed and your presence there seems “meant to be”, you’re doing it right.
Using Facebook to Provide Up-to-Date Information
Facebook is the non-negotiable platform. Restaurants cleverly use Facebook as their go-to online space for up-to-the-minute information. Whilst it’s not advisable for most businesses, many smaller eateries only maintain a Facebook page in lieu of a website.
This is because Facebook is not only easier to update than a website, but it’s where customers turn to for very current information.
Is the cafe open today? What time do they shut? Do they have specials on? Do they have their own high chairs?
Potential customers will check the Facebook page for this information. Restaurants using Facebook to its full potential will have all of this information readily available on their page. Having easily accessed information helps potential customers to make their decision to actually walk through your doors.
Embracing User Generated Content and Social Proof
One of the reasons social media is such a powerful marketing tool is its ability to foster social proof. Whether that be through avenues as formal as reviews or shares or likes, or as subtle as customers tagging a business in a photo or posting a picture of a product, it sends the message “I support this brand.”
Restaurants and cafes get a huge head start in this game, as people just love posting pictures of their creamy latte, delicious avocado smash, or beautifully presented fine-dining meal. But the businesses who are truly using social media effectively take this one step further.
They encourage customers to tag their restaurant in the picture, or to include a specific hashtag or ask to repost the image to their own social media page. This pushes the social-proofing User Generated Content to exponentially greater audiences.
In another example of quality over quantity, restaurants which use social media effectively don’t aim for the greatest number of followers, they aim for the most engaged followers.
Putting the “social” in social media by encouraging interaction with your connections is important for maximizing the impact of social media marketing efforts. Likes, comments, shares, and re-tweets all make for far greater exposure, social proof, and brand recognition than a simple one-off click of the “follow” button.
Fostering community among your followers and engaging with them also develops an affinity with your brand and your business. People like to feel involved, like to be part of something and like to align themselves with brands or companies. Restaurants which create an online community with their followers are using social media to encourage loyalty among their customer base.
Pictures of food, beverages, and people enjoying a meal out are ubiquitous on social media. Restaurants have really leveraged the full marketing potential of these platforms to harness social proof, encourage loyalty, provide information, and target new audiences. By studying how restaurants use social media effectively we can all learn a thing or two…
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