Social media continues to be an important research and news source. In fact, 49% of consumers learn about food through social media. Now that a large majority of restaurants have some sort of social media presence such as Facebook or Instagram, the question is, how does your restaurant maximize the benefits of social media? The key is to leverage creative solutions to increase engagement with your restaurant’s pages which will, in turn, attract more followers and more customers as a result. Increasing your restaurant’s engagement on your social media platforms require a basic understanding of how these platforms work as well as knowing what’s important to your customer base. Here, we’ve compiled a list of seven easy strategies to increase engagement on your restaurant’s social media.
1. Use hashtags and location services
Social media platforms have metadata technologies, such as hashtags and location services that allow users to cross-reference and share similar content. For example, if you were to search the hashtag #Foodie on Instagram or Twitter, you would have access to millions (literally) of posts where users across the globe have used that same hashtag. Same rules apply for applying a location to a social post, whether that be a city or the name of a restaurant itself. So, when your restaurant’s social media person is posting, be sure that he or she includes multiple food/restaurant-related tags and tags your city or the name of your restaurant. This way, social media users can easily find your restaurant’s posts when searching for local eateries in the area encouraging more engagement on your social pages and in your restaurant.
2. Show behind the scenes
Now more than ever, people are concerned about where their food comes from and how it’s prepared. Social media provides a forum for your restaurant to promote the quality and safety of the ingredients in your food. Post a picture on Instagram stories when you get your daily produce shipment in. This signals to your customer that your food is as fresh and local as you promise. You could use the same approach for socializing your enhanced, COVID-conscious safety protocol by posting pictures of videos of your kitchen staff washing their hands, wearing masks, etc. demonstrating to your customers the commitment your restaurant has to their health and safety. Sharing what goes on behind the scenes will enable your customers to feel more connected to your business, and in turn, increase social media engagement.
3. Employee profiles
Food is great, but customers are so often intrigued by the people behind the food. Afterall, your restaurant is only as good as the people who make the food and serve the customers. Therefore, it’s a great idea for restaurants to launch an #EmployeeSpotlight series on social media. You can feature your restaurant’s favorite servers and chef(s) sharing their hometowns, work backgrounds and favorite dishes on your menu. A tactic like this allows your customers to get to know your restaurant on a more emotional level, so on Friday night, they’re so excited to not only dine with you but to see their favorite host.
4. Respond to online reviews
Reviews are a great way to increase visibility for your business and drive more traffic to your restaurant. Most customers look at Google or Yelp reviews prior to visiting any restaurant. That said, simply having reviews of your restaurant is not enough to increase your social media engagement and online presence: it’s important to respond to those customer reviews as well. Providing a brief and genuine “thank you, hope to see you again soon” to a positive review encourages that customer to return and spread the good word about your restaurant. On the other hand, providing a sincere apology to a negative review can go a long way to building goodwill with your customers. When the next customer searches your restaurant online, they’ll be more likely to leave a comment as well, knowing your restaurant is actively engaged and present with your customer base.
5. Use video
Is there anything more intriguing yet therapeutic than watching cooking videos? There are entire TV networks dedicated to cooking for this very reason. So, give the people what they want: post videos. A great, easy way to do this is to start an Instagram story highlight called something like “Cooking with the Chef” and show how your chef plates a delicious looking dessert. Your social media person can easily show off the personality of your restaurant without giving away secret recipes and ingredients. People love video content, so using it to your advantage on your restaurant’s social pages will increase traffic to your page and drive engagement.
6. Offer giveaways
Social media giveaways are a great, easy way to drive traffic to your restaurant’s page and increase your followers and the number of comments/likes on your posts. An easy way to do this is to offer a gift card to a set number of “winners” who follow your restaurant’s account, comment three names on the post and re-share it on their Instagram stories. This tactic not only increases engagement on your restaurant’s account but it directs potentially new customers to your page through the comments and re-posts.
7. Re-post customer content
Similar to the strategy mentioned above, your restaurant should also strive to repost customer content. Social media users love to be reposted, particularly by businesses such as your restaurant. In addition, reposting increases engagement (higher likelihood of comments, DMs and likes) on your page because your followers will see the repost and want to engage. Reposting is a free and easy way to increase your restaurant’s social media engagement.
Today, having a social media presence is table stakes for a local restaurant. So the question now is how do restaurants grow those social platforms, and in turn, grow their business? We shared seven simple, effective tactics to drive new users to your restaurant’s page, increase the likelihood of comments, DMs and likes to improve the visibility of your posts. Prioritizing social media at your restaurant can have an instrumental impact on your overall business, brand and customers.