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For restaurant owners, social media is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get in touch and keep in touch with customers. Every restaurant – from the Michelin starred to the family run takeaway – has at least a Facebook page. But having an online presence is a dynamic activity.
Setting up a Facebook page or Instagram account is one thing. Updating it and using the tools it provides in a way that catches people’s attention is another. And it’s keeping abreast of trends which will keep your restaurant’s social media engaging and effective. Here are the trends which you should be taking note of and taking part in to boost business.
User Generated Content
User Generated Content (UGC) is the biggest thing in content marketing right now, not just in the restaurant sphere. It’s because the power of a regular person advocating for a product or service holds far more weight in a potential customer’s mind than any kind of direct advertising. It’s social proof at its best.
Encouraging diners to post something to social media saying “we ate here, we loved it” can yield amazing results. Re-post, re-gram, re-tweet these posts, get people to tag you in their posts. Pop up a little sign in your restaurant asking anyone posting something to social media to tag you or use a particular hashtag.
Social Media Based Competitions
Leveraging UGC, a common social media marketing trend for restaurants currently is to run a competition based on posting to social media. Come up with whatever prize you feel like giving – a free meal for two, 10 percent off a bar tab, a reservation at a usually-difficult-to-book time slot – and then invite punters to enter the competition through social media.
They may have to take a picture of themselves at your restaurant, post a picture of their food, use a particular hashtag, get the highest number of likes…Once again, you decide what you want the competition to be.
Facebook as a Search Tool
This is a trend not driven by the industry using social media for marketing purposes so much as Facebook being an integral part of everyday life. Potential customers are increasingly using Facebook to find out information about restaurants rather than heading for a search engine. Many eateries don’t have a website but have a Facebook page, or their website hasn’t been updated for years and the Facebook page is a more up-to-date reflection of the restaurant. This leads people to head straight to Facebook to learn about a restaurant.
This being the case, it is absolutely critical that your Facebook page is on point. Make sure your opening hours, contact information, location, and even menu are right there to be found by someone searching for your restaurant. Having a link to a booking service or take-out ordering service in an obvious location will go even further to driving sales.
Social media is now used as a search tool for people looking for restaurants to try. It’s not just about scrolling through Instagram envying people’s morning lattes across the other side of the world, it’s about scrolling through Instagram choosing the best-looking latte near you to help you decide which café you will go to this morning.
To this end, geo-specific hashtags are now the way to get your restaurant seen by these social media users who are using the platform to inform their dining choices. Tag your posts with hashtags which include your location, i.e. #bestlattesinLA, or #coffeeloversLosAngeles. Check which hashtags are most popular for people searching for your particular niche in your area and use them.
Now, when people book a table online or order through an online take-out service, you have that customer’s email address on file. Restaurants are capitalizing on this by adding these email addresses to a mailing list and sending exclusive offers to these customers.
It’s a particularly useful way to boost business on quieter nights – for example, by offering a discount for the mailing list customers if they come in on a Tuesday. It’s also a simple way to develop loyalty and repeat custom from past diners.