An effective social media strategy is an essential part of any restaurant’s marketing toolkit.
In the uncertain times we’re currently in, it’s even more critical for restaurants to be play their social media cards right: 55% of diners are willing to give a restaurant a try because of a social media post they’ve seen and that 22% decide to pay another visit for the same reason.
Give your restaurant a boost and get more conversions with these five approaches to social media marketing.
Define your target audience
In order to talk effectively to your audience on social media, you need to define your target market. If you try to appeal to everyone by producing generic content, your brand message will be bland and confusing, and no one will feel particularly excited about your restaurant. Knowing who your ideal customers are will help you tailor your content, tone and visual style to appeal to them.
Think of your audience in terms of age, lifestyle, interests, and values to start with. The clearer the picture you draw, the easier it will be to build an effective social media strategy that reaches the right people. Do you want to appeal to families with young children, students, the older generation, or customers with special diets, for example?
When you have a clear idea of who your ideal customers are, use it to plan your posts. What type of content are they interested in? What values matter to them? Which platforms do they use the most? What kind of humour appeals to them? If you’re based near a university campus and want to draw the student lunch crowd, you’ll probably want to include photos featuring students, and maybe roll out some student-only deals.
Balance promotional posts with other types of content
It may sound counterintuitive, but there is such a thing as too much self-promotion on social media platforms—60% of social media users find excessive promotional content irritating. Yes, you can still post vouchers, discounts and product spotlights, but to mix things up, be sure add a good variety of different post types. Engagement posts can be particularly good at creating a bit of buzz around your restaurant.
This kind of post invites your followers to interact with you in various ways. For example, you could create a poll asking what your followers would most like to see on your menu. Competitions are another fun way to get your followers commenting, sharing and tagging their friends. Just keep in mind that posting competitions all the time can also come across as trying too hard and may put followers off.
Other types of posts to consider include announcements and updates (such as holiday opening hours), staff introductions, behind-the-scenes videos, beautiful decor shots that capture the unique atmosphere at your establishment, positive customer reviews, and user-generated content (UCG).
Consider targeted advertising
Social media advertising is cheaper than many traditional marketing tactics and tends to be pretty effective: for example, 51% of Facebook users say that they’ve clicked on an ad. The main advantage of advertising on social media is that you can get really specific about whom to target. For restaurants, the ability to geo-target people is especially critical. You wouldn’t want to waste your advertising budget on marketing to people who aren’t anywhere near your restaurant.
Geo-targeting is only the most important step though; there are a lot of other interesting options to explore when it comes to finding the right audience for your ads on social media. On Facebook, you could target people with specific likes, interests and followed pages, for example.
Are you launching a new kids’ menu? Use targeted advertising to make sure that local mums and dads see it. Or is your newly-launched restaurant vegetarian? Use targeted advertising to get your introductory lunch deal seen by local folk interested in plant-based dining.
If you do decide to pay for social media ads, it makes sense to learn as much as you can about the different possibilities so you can get your money’s worth out of it. This includes looking at the analytics to see how well your sponsored ads are performing.
Post at optimal times
In order to maximise the effect your social media posts have, be sure to post them at optimal times. Poorly-timed posts are either not seen by very many people, or they aren’t as relevant when your followers see them.
Posting photos of delicious food has the most impact if they’re seen around relevant meal times (when people are likely to be hungry and thinking about eating). So make sure photos of your famous breakfast croissants are seen as people log onto their accounts in the morning, and that your soup and sandwich special appears when people are getting ready to head out for a bite on their lunch break. You can enhance these posts with hashtags like #breakfast and #lunch to increase the chances that people who are looking for options online see your posts. It’s also advisable to use branded URL using Bitly alternative to gain maximum exposure.
Other content from polls to interior shots can of course appear outside specific meal times, but do take into account when your followers are typically the most active to increase your reach and boost engagement levels. Peak times can vary across different platforms, so take a bit of time to analyse your traffic on each site to get a better idea of your followers’ behaviour.
Once you’ve figured out the best times to reach your customers, create a schedule for posting your content. Your schedule doesn’t need to be a straightjacket, but aiming to get the majority of your posts out at optimal times can help you get the most out of your posts.
Make use of monitoring tools
If you’ve been utilising social media in your marketing for a while, you’re likely already using analytics to monitor the performance of the content you’re posting, and using the data to adapt and perfect your strategy. However, you can dig even deeper by using social media monitoring tools. These tools track the use of specific keywords in real time, including the name of your restaurant, across different platforms, which has numerous potential uses.
For example, tracking mentions allows you to gather valuable feedback and keep an eye on your restaurant’s reputation online. Whether it’s a delighted customer raving about your creative allergen-free menu options in a Facebook group, or a disappointed diner having a rant about one of your staff members on Twitter, a monitoring tool can bring these posts into your attention and allow you to respond swiftly.
Negative posts offer an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to take feedback onboard and improve, while favourable mentions (used with permission) make for great user-generated content to repost on your own channels.
You can also use social media monitoring to reach out to prospective customers, such as people who are visiting your city and asking for restaurant recommendations online. Influencers can likewise be found by tracking mentions of specific terms: identify relevant social media accounts that are reaching a large audience and approach them with an offer. Inviting a food blogger to dine for free in exchange for an honest review is an example of a great win-win situation.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to making the most of your restaurant’s social media.