Today, it’s no longer a matter of “if” restaurants should have a social media presence, but how effectively they are using it to connect with and attract customers. Imagine the potential impact on your restaurant business if you knew how to promote your restaurant on social media and could successfully harness the power of social media to market your restaurant.
But, owning and managing a restaurant is already a full-time job in itself, how can you, as a restaurant owner, be expected to simultaneously navigate the often overwhelming world of social media? Let’s discover why and how to promote a restaurant on social media in a way that will draw in customers and enhance your online presence.
Why Use Social Media To Promote Your Restaurant?
Before jumping into how to promote a restaurant on social media, let’s first discuss the why.
Social media has become one of the primary ways that people discover new restaurants, make dining decisions, and share their experiences with friends and fellow diners. In fact, a recent study found that 3 out of 4 customers use Facebook comments and images to make dining decisions, and 99% of Gen X and Millennial restaurant choices are influenced by online reviews.
As the stats above show, social media has become a crucial aspect of how people make dining decisions. Let’s get into some of the specific benefits that social media can offer for your restaurant promotion:
Improves Your Brand’s Online Visibility
The buzz created by social media activity can greatly boost your restaurant’s online presence, making it more likely that customers searching for a restaurant like yours will find you before your competitors.
But let’s set the record straight: social media won’t directly impact your search rankings. However, a more holistic approach that includes social media can strengthen your restaurant’s online authority.
Provides Massive Exposure
Social media also provides a large platform to promote special events, deals, menu items, or anything else you want potential customers to know and see. And with features like boosted posts and ads, you can target specific demographics, further improving the effectiveness of your promotions.
Builds Brand Loyalty And Trust
The nature of social media allows for more direct communication and personalization with your customers. This can create a sense of loyalty and trust in your brand, as customers feel heard and valued. And when your customers feel a strong positive connection to your restaurant, they are more likely to become brand advocates, spreading the good word about your eatery and bringing in even more customers.
Allows Direct Ordering
Many social media platforms now offer the option for customers to place orders or make reservations directly through their social business pages. This convenience is made possible by solutions like Lyve, which is built to integrate with your restaurant’s social media channels and simplify the ordering process for both customers and restaurant staff.
How To Promote Your Restaurant On Social Media?
Now that you understand the benefits of using social media for your restaurant, let’s dive into some specific tactics that show you how to promote your restaurant on social media.
Use Relevant Hashtags
Adding relevant hashtags to your post can improve its discoverability and reach a larger, targeted audience, especially on Instagram. Make sure to use popular, relevant hashtags related to food, dining, and the relevant cuisine your restaurant serves. This can warrant that your content will be seen by users who are interested in restaurants and potentially looking for a place to order from
For example, a post about your restaurant’s new sushi roll might include hashtags like #sushi, #seafood, #japanesefood, etc. You can also use Instagram’s search function to find popular and specific hashtags related to your post’s content. Most Instagram users follow and engage with popular hashtags, so using them can expose your restaurant to a whole new audience.
Capture Pictures That Reflect Ambiance Too
Your restaurant has a high chance of getting noticed online with high-quality, drool-worthy photos of its cuisine. But why stop at that? Showcasing your restaurant’s unique atmosphere and décor can also entice potential diners.
District Eatz & Urban Roast’s Tiktok feed, for example, features videos not just of their delicious-looking dishes, but also gives a glimpse into their modern, trendy restaurant atmosphere.
Incorporating photos that highlight the ambiance and overall dining experience, not just the food itself, can give potential customers a well-rounded idea of what to expect when they visit. And with the rise of Instagram-worthy interior design, featuring your restaurant’s atmosphere can make for some pretty eye-catching posts.
Post Videos Of Your Food
A food picture may be worth a thousand cravings, but a food video can up the ante even more. Posting videos of your menu items or special dishes being prepared can give potential customers a taste (pardon the pun) of what you have to offer, enticing them to come in and try it for themselves. Wave Asian Bistro & Sushi in Florida regularly share videos on their Instagram, like this one showcasing their tantalizing sushi rolls.
Show The Behind-The-Scenes Action
In addition to enticing customers with videos of your dishes, consider giving them a peek into the behind-the-scenes action in your kitchen. This helps humanize your brand and offers potential customers a unique look at the hard work and passion that goes into creating their dining experience.
Tonkotsu Bar & Ramen, a ramen restaurant in London, regularly showcases the meticulous preparation that goes into their dishes, like this video of their Thai Curry Tonkotsu.
Encourage Customers To Leave A Review
It doesn’t matter if you have the most beautiful restaurant and the tastiest food in town – if your online reviews are lacking, potential customers may hesitate to order from your restaurant.
Social media is an excellent tool to remind happy customers to leave a review and spread the word about their positive experience at your establishment.
You can use a call to action in your social media posts, such as asking followers to leave a review on Yelp or Google. Or, encourage customers to share their thoughts and photos using your brand’s hashtag. Some restaurants even offer incentives for leaving a review, such as a discount on their next visit or entry into a giveaway.
Whatever approach you take, be sure to respond to all reviews – both good and bad – promptly and professionally. By doing so, you show current and potential customers that you value their feedback and are willing to make improvements where necessary. And if a negative review does come in, take advantage of it to turn things around and prove to future diners that your restaurant provides top-notch customer service.
If you have a website, then you can also use these reviews to your advantage by brandishing these for more visibility, especially the positive ones.
Highlight Positive Customer Feedback
94% of US diners look at online reviews before choosing a restaurant, making it essential to show potential customers that your eatery’s past diners have enjoyed their experiences. And social media offers a great avenue to do just that.
Consider featuring customer photos with their positive feedback, or sharing positive reviews and testimonials from sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. This can be a subtle yet highly effective way to highlight the satisfaction of your current customers.
Bonus points if the review comes from a food influencer or well-known figure in your local community. Just like this post from Buffalo Wild Wings’s Instagram, showcasing a positive review from popular food blogger Burger Beast.
Partner With Influencers
Partnering with influencers or businesses for collaboration, promotion, or special events can bring in new customers and offer your current patrons a fun, unique experience.
For example, a craft brewery could partner with a nearby restaurant for a special beer dinner featuring dishes specifically paired with their brews. Or, you could partner with a local clothing boutique for a special event or pop-up shop, offering customers a fun night out, complete with delicious food and trendy fashion.
You can even create a limited-edition menu item or cocktail in collaboration with the partner business, further tying in the partnership and offering customers a one-of-a-kind experience. California-based pizza innovator Pieology, for instance, teamed up with Foodbeast, the iconic influencer network, to create the Western BBQ Pizza.
A partnership like this not only brings in customers who already follow and trust the influencer or brand but can also amount to great content opportunities for you to share on your social media channels.
Invest in paid ads
Running targeted ads on social media is a surefire way to get your restaurant in front of a qualified, local audience. You can use these ads to promote specials or discounts, announce new menu items, or even highlight any accolades your restaurant may have received. Plus, with the ad targeting options on Facebook and Instagram, you can easily pinpoint your audience by location, interests, and demographics for the most effective ad campaign.
Just be sure to track the success of your ads – are they driving more foot traffic or online orders? Are people actually redeeming the offer or discount? Make adjustments if necessary to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your advertising buck. And don’t forget to include a compelling call to action in your ad – whether it’s urging customers to come dine at your restaurant or encouraging them to place an online order; give them a clear next step.
Holidays offer a great opportunity for restaurants to create special menu items, events, and promotions. It could be a Valentine’s Day special event for couples, a themed menu for Halloween, or offering deals for large parties on game night, leveraging holidays in your social media posts can give potential customers another reason to come in and try your restaurant.
Condado Tacos, a popular taco joint, regularly posts about their specials for holidays and events, like this post for Christmas Eve that features their take on a holiday classic.
Just be sure to plan ahead, as holidays often mean increased demand and a busy schedule for both patrons and restaurants alike. A great way to ensure that you don’t miss out on holiday marketing opportunities is to create a social media calendar,mapping all your holiday-related posts in advance. This would give you the leeway to ,proactively plan and promote any special menu items or events well in advance.
Offer Social Media Exclusive Discounts
Who doesn’t love a good deal? Offering specials and discounts on your social media channels can attract new customers and incentivize current patrons to come back for more. Whether it’s a happy hour promotion, a discount for followers and subscribers, or a special deal for birthdays and holidays, offering promotions can increase brand loyalty and customer engagement on your social media pages.
American casual restaurant chain Steak ‘n Shake has a whole section on its Instagram page dedicated to exclusive deals, like this free shake coupon for new app signups.
Promotions and discounts like these can help you as a restaurateur in gathering customer information for marketing purposes, such as birthdays for targeted campaigns.
Just be sure to advertise the promotion effectively and make it easy for customers to redeem – nobody likes a complicated coupon code. You can use QR codes to make it simple for customers to access and utilize their vouchers, or promote a special hashtag for in-store redemption.
Run Competitions And Polls
Social media competitions and polls can be an engaging way to interact with followers and get new eyes on your restaurant.It could be a simple giveaway for free meals or merchandise, or a fun poll about customers’ favorite menu items; these posts often elicit a higher degree of engagement with followers. Just like this Twitter poll from Applebee’s, asking followers to vote on their preferred way to celebrate National French Fry Day.
The poll garnered 429 votes, which isn’t a huge figure in terms of absolute numbers, but for a brand that gets eight to ten comments or retweets on average, that’s a significant spike in engagement for one single post.
You can also use competitions and polls as a way to gather customer feedback or ideas – for example, asking followers to submit their own original burger toppings for a chance to have it featured on the menu. Or gather suggestions for specials or events, like a wine and cheese tasting night. Besides engaging your customers, these types of posts also show that you value their input and are willing to go above and beyond to bring them a unique dining experience.
Use Social Media To Drive Emails Sign-Ups
Of course, social media shouldn’t be your only marketing channel. In tandem with the right marketing mix, it can amplify your marketing efforts. Take advantage of the opportunity to expand your reach through social media and grow your customer base by driving followers to sign up for your email list.
Include a call to action in your social media posts, directing customers to sign up for your emails to receive exclusive offers or be the first to know about new menu items. Or, promote a special offer for email subscribers – for example, a discount on their next visit or a free appetizer. Remember, customers today are very cautious about parting with their personal information, so make sure to clearly outline the benefits and any related terms and conditions.
Getting Started With Social Media Marketing For Your Restaurant
As you get started with social media marketing for your restaurant, you’ll be met with a lot of decision making. From choosing the right platforms to figuring out your content strategy, it can all feel overwhelming. Here are some tips you can keep in mind to make the most out of your social media efforts:
Keep your branding consistent
Whether it’s on your website, social media pages, or physical materials like menus and business cards, ensure that your branding is consistent across all platforms. This means using the same logo, color scheme, as well as language and tone in your messaging. Consistent branding helps customers easily recognize your restaurant and instills a sense of trust and familiarity.
Employ QR codes
Soon after the pandemic hit, QR codes quickly became a popular way for restaurants to offer contactless menus and payment options. But their capabilities go beyond just that – you can also use them to direct customers to your social media pages, website, or even run a special offer or promotion. All these actions can ultimately lead to increased visibility and sales for your restaurant.
QR codes are fairly inexpensive and easy to generate and can be added to your physical marketing materials like menus, flyers, table tents, and even clothing or staff uniforms. So consider adding QR codes to your restaurant’s marketing strategy for a simple, yet impactful way to drive customer engagement.
Engage with your followers
Social media is a two-way street – so it isn’t just a place to constantly promote yourself, but is a great medium to engage with your followers and customers.
Respond to comments and messages, share user-generated content (with their permission), and ask for feedback on your restaurant and menu items. This can help foster a positive community around your business,and give you valuable insights for improvements or new ideas.
Post frequently, but not too frequently
Establish a posting schedule for your social media pages and stick to it. Aim to post at least once a day, but don’t overwhelm your followers with too many posts in one day. Otherwise, they may start tuning you out or worse – unfollow your pages.
A schedule also helps you plan out your content and make sure you’re sharing a good mix of promotional posts, engaging content, and interaction with followers.
Take Advantage of Analytics
Most social media platforms have built-in analytics tools, allowing you to track the performance of your posts and determine what content is resonating with your audience. You can use this data to inform your future social media strategy and ensure you’re creating content that your followers actually want to see.
Plan Out Your Resources
Last but not least, remember to plan out your resources for social media management. This includes not just creating the content itself, but also scheduling and monitoring your pages. Analyze your existing resource’s capacity and determine if you need to assign a team member or hire an outside agency to handle your social media efforts. Proper resource planning and management can help ensure your social media presence is consistent and effective.
What’s next for restaurant owners
Promoting your restaurant on social media isn’t just about boosting sales, but also building a positive community and brand image. With a clear strategy and commitment to engaging with your followers, you will see success in growing your social media presence and ultimately driving customers to your business.
Having said that, you’re still bound to find yourself overburdened with managing your restaurant while also overseeing your social media channels
In fact, many restaurateurs don’t know how to promote their restaurant on social media, but these tips and tactics can point you in the right direction. So, start creating that social media plan and get ready for some online success!