Published October 20, 2020
For restaurant owners and operators, engaging and communicating with your customers is important at the best of times and it’s doubly true in the pandemic. And you have a lot of reasons to reach your customers right now (from giving them an updated menu to promoting different ways of ordering and picking up food, or having it delivered, to letting them know what the status is of your dine-in options).
All of it is vital information your customers need to know to keep your restaurant up and running amid COVID-19—and using social media to showcase what makes you unique and intrigue guests should be a big part of how you reach them.
Why social media? Because it enables you to connect with your customers in ways that uniquely benefits restaurants. Through social media you can increase your brand awareness (setting you apart from other restaurants) and promote new specials and menu items. Especially during this time, you can increase customer loyalty and reach new customers by offering discounts and buy-one-get-one-free deals.
You can also really engage with your customers and build a community of followers who have the ability to interact with each other about your restaurant. It’s a mode of communication that relies on authenticity and open dialogue so you can engage your customers like no other forms of communication can.
To run a successful social media campaign, there are six best practices to consider:
Defining an overall goal is the first action to take before you get started. Ask yourself why you’re running a campaign and be clear on what you would like it to achieve. Are you aiming to increase sales? Acquire new leads? Boost online orders? Increase brand awareness or promote a specific special? Answering this question will help you define what steps you need to take after you’ve determined the objective.
When setting your goal, try to be as specific as possible. How many leads do you want to generate? What level of brand awareness do you want to achieve? How much should your website traffic increase? Your goals need to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Your goals affect every aspect of your social media campaign, so make sure you take your time while you’re planning.
Looking for some inspiration? Econsultancy’s article features five restaurants with first-class social media strategies each with their own unique approach guided by their social media goals.
Creating a customer persona and targeting your campaign content to match their needs is foundational to any successful social media campaign. You have to understand your target group before you can start creating content. So when you’re collecting data to build your persona profile, try to get as much detailed information on that ideal customer as possible. This could include age, gender, location, hobbies, favorite social media channels, income, education and so on. Knowing as much as possible about your target group will help you create messages that are convincing and authentic, encouraging your prospects to engage with you on social.
Need some assistance determining your target audience? This article from Restaurant Engine can help.
Collecting information on your target group will give you an idea of what social media channels they’re most likely to use, too. But you’ll also want to pull in the results of your website analytics to help you choose the right channel. Does Instagram drive more traffic to your site? Does Facebook drive the most leads? Does Twitter? It’s important because the channels you choose will influence the content and strategy of your campaign, since each has different requirements. A posting that works well on Facebook, for example, won’t necessarily work on Twitter or Instagram, and vice versa.
Ready to compare and analyze which social media channel is right for your campaign? GrubHub For Restaurants dives into the benefits of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in their blog Which Social Media Channels are Right for Your Business?
There are several social media management software tools that can help you manage your campaigns. They can help you increase productivity in the four key areas of social media campaigns: content creation, content sharing, social media management and social media analytics.
One very important tool that you should decide on first is the social media calendar, as it will help you stay organized. Outlining your content and the timing of your posts on different channels is very important in running a successful social media campaign—it's how you know what needs to be done at any given stage of your campaign, because timing is everything on social media.
Scheduling apps are also useful tools; they allow you to upload your images, captions and hashtags—and then schedule the post. This makes it easy for busy restaurant owners who may not have time or the dedicated social media marketing staff who can post throughout the day. Using the apps, you can even choose the time for posting that gives you best engagement. Many social media scheduling tools allow access for multiple users or accounts, plus an insights tab so you can see your best performing posts, too.
Seeing what your competition is up to can help you decide what strategy to implement for your own social media campaign. You’ll see what works for them, what channels they are using, what kind of content their customers tend to engage with (and which they don’t) and what type of messages they're spreading. Watch for your competitors’ best practices and also for their mistakes in the following areas: the social media channels used, type of content, frequency of posts and the results they’ve generated. This way you can stay one step ahead of your competition.
Want to see what your competitors are up to with their social media? Read SproutSocial’s cheeky but useful blog 13 Competitor Analysis Tools to Spy on Your Competition.
Tracking your performance will show you how successful your social media campaign is and where you can course correct to maximize your success. You can even do this while the campaign is running, to create A/B tests or fine tune your strategy for future campaigns.
All six steps will help put your restaurant on the right track toward creating the best social media campaign possible. And remember, when creating your content, make sure it's engaging and deliciously enticing as possible – show your story instead of telling it. You want your prospects to imagine the amazing food and experience they’ll have at your restaurant, so make it as vivid as possible.
Need some ideas? Check out 5 ways to use social media to connect with customers.
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