It’s no surprise that many restaurants boost their marketing efforts with social media. These channels are practically free to operate and maintain and can be used to offer your customers relevant information, showcase food and ambience, while also promoting discounts and special events.

Not only is the sheer number of social media users rising – nearly 70% Americans are now active on social media platforms – but 80% of potential customers look up a restaurant online before going there to dine for the first time.

This means your restaurant should have an online presence, including social media, to capture the attention of potential diners and entice them to visit. Once they have, restaurants can then use social channels to engage more with them and foster loyalty.

If your restaurant is new to the world of social media, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Create Optimized Profiles

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The first step toward successful social media marketing for your restaurant is creating fully optimized social profiles. The big 3 for restaurants to focus on include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These popular social media sites are about sharing images, making them ideal for restaurant marketing.

For Facebook, restaurants should fill out the company information section, including their address, hours of operation, a short description, and a link to website or menu pages. To make the page more visually interesting, add in a profile picture and cover photo highlighting a popular dish or the restaurant’s interior.

On Twitter, new users should choose a relevant handle to ensure people can find your profile when they search for it. Again, a profile picture and visually appealing header photo is a must to entice new customers to visit. For a bio, choose a short description of your cuisine or specialty you offer. Include your address and website, as well, so people can easily find out more information about your restaurant.

Instagram offers users less information about your business. For this reason, it’s critical to include a relevant bio and add a link to the restaurant’s site. If people are searching for your business on Instagram, they won’t be able to find location or hours – so this ensures that they have a link to follow if they want to find out more. When posting your first few photos on Instagram, make sure the images are high quality and the caption includes relevant geo-tags or hashtags.

Provide Useful and Unique Information

Many users look to your business social media pages to easily find information like address, hours, and menu items. For this reason, make sure this basic information is available and prominent on your social pages. Also consider adding information that will tell users more about your restaurant, such as cuisine type, prices, and ambience.

For many restaurants, social channels are used to showcase new menu items and nightly specials. To entice new diners, this content should always be high quality and visually appealing. To feed off the current social media foodie trend, restaurants should take advantage of food-related hashtags when sharing photos from their menu. Try out popular tags like #foodstagram, #foodie, #foodporn, or #TacoTuesday to help your posts reach more eyes on social.

Social channels are also a great place to promote dining discounts and upcoming events. This tactic will entice more customers to follow your accounts so they don’t miss out on the “inside scoop,” or the chance to save some money at your restaurant. In fact, research has shown 8 in 10 customers will visit restaurant during off peak times if they receive a discount.

For smaller restaurants that are trying to make the most of their social media budget, make sure to link social profiles so updates made to one platform automatically publish on the others.

Engage with Audiences

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Social media is, of course, meant to be social. A critical aspect of a successful social presence is engaging with your audience by monitoring mentions and sharing user content. The good news is that restaurants can easily find content to share by searching for their username or restaurant name. Many customers today snap photos of their food and restaurant experiences to share on their own social pages, so take advantage of it by repurposing their post and giving the customer credit.

Another idea to engage audiences is with a photo contest asking customers to share their favorite meal at your restaurant to win a discount, free appetizer, or some other prizes. You can then share these images across various social networks and select a random winner. Not only does this show the restaurant recognizes their customers, but that they also appreciate them and their business – ideally turning them into loyal diners.

Social media doesn’t start and end with posting vital company information and the occasional picture. It’s critical to keep customers engaged so you are top of mind next time they’re deciding where to eat. To keep track of customer mentions and tags, try a social media management tool like Hootsuite, TweetDeck, or Buffer.

Final Thoughts

A restaurant can be successful on social by updating their accounts with new and visual content often, while also engaging with audiences.

When creating updates or responding to users on social media, don’t forget to be personable – speaking like a real human, and not a corporation, will attract more people to your restaurant. As a (mostly) free marketing channel, restaurant owners shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity of using social media to connect with audiences and foster loyalty.

 

What other beginners’ social media tips would you include? Connect with us on Twitter: @trycakenow

Author: Warner Seibert

Bio: Warner Siebert is the SVP of Sales & Marketing for CAKE, a Sysco company. Hailing from New York City by way of Baltimore, Warner began helping restaurants when he founded BuzzTable in 2011, which was acquired by Sysco in 2013 and rebranded as CAKE Guest Manager. A coffee aficionado, Warner spends time hiking with his dog and enjoying all that Silicon Valley has to offer.