Speaking to Restaurant Owners: Social Media on the Menu?

At my latest presentation, a few members in the audience were from the restaurant business and made me think about the many implications of social media in this market.  While great food can make a restaurant successful, it isn’t the only ingredient in the recipe for success. The restaurant and food industry are prime subjects for utilizing this inexpensive marketing tool-social media.  Here is a list of the basics for restaurant owners to implement in their marketing plan.

1. Create a unique Facebook page

This might be one of the easiest ways for restaurants to connect with people.  Putting a link on your website is the easiest way for you to drive traffic to your Facebook page and have your fans/customers “like” you.  The Facebook page is a great way to share your story, share pictures and share news with your fans.  Just today, I received a message from Sitwells Coffee House sharing with me a holiday event being held all along the street with other local businesses.  What’s great about this is that it’s not directly promoting itself – “Buy me! Buy me!” No one buys into that…- it’s promoting a community of businesses as well as its own.  The Facebook page is a great way for your patrons to interact with your brand and attract new customers.

2. Tweet about your specials!

This network allows you to spread real time messages and real time responses as well!  Being able to interact with your followers in this way is great because it gives them immediate news and updates about what’s going on at your restaurant.  You could tweet about your special of the day or who’s performing tonight at your happy hour.  Tweet about happy hour specials or other special offers! Twitter can especially be a great tool for restaurants that have a high number of reservations to announce when a reservation canceled.  This is a way to get the message out to your customers who are looking for that last minute reservation with the immediacy of this social network.

3. Create Event Invitations

Just this morning, I received 3 event invitations from Sitwells Coffee House inviting me to attend their weekly live music sessions with said musical band/musician.  This is a great way to generate traffic, not only to your restaurant, but also your Facebook page.  Those invited can send the invitation to other users if a band they like is playing or if this event is something their friends might take interest.  This is just another simple way       for you to engage with your fans.

4. Tweet or post special offers/Incentives

Give your fans special treatment for “liking” you or being one of your “followers.”  Attach a special coupon for a discounted lunch or free appetizer just for being a part of your social media network.  This is a great way to get more traffic to your page as well.  Advertise this in your facility or post on your website so that viewers have some incentive to engaging with your page.  Another option could be to reward those who recruit more fans do your page or make positive contributions to your page.  This will give your fans just another reason to spread the word about your restaurant!

5. How do you know if it’s working?

Part of my presentation talks about how to monitor your pages.  This is the easiest way to tell if your social networking strategy is effectively engaging your audience.  Monitor your fan count.  Read the comments.  Listening is the best way to judge what the buzz is about your restaurant.  By listening and responding to your fans, it shows that you are interested in what is being said and are continually looking for ways to improve the way your restaurant is running.

How is your restaurant using social media?