Social media is the most impactful marketing channel for the restaurant industry. While other sectors rely heavily on their website presence, even the best restaurants can get away with a simple site, as long as they have a top-notch social presence.
Customers love to browse the food they're looking to eat, and where best to get the latest batch of dish pics? Social media (if not a digital menu 😉).
Of course, having a profile on social media does not guarantee success online. Restaurants with the best online results are those that invest wisely to research their strategies, understand their customers and deliver content that is designed to be engaging; whetting appetites and encouraging patrons into the venue.
Learning From the Leaders
Last year, Blue Beetle released a roundup of Dubai restaurants with awesome social media profiles. What do Walnut Grove, folly by Nick & Scott, The London Project, Bagatelle Dubai, and Bouchon Bakery all have in common? Their social media profiles are filled with amazing, mouthwatering, envy-inducing content.
Using these leading Dubai restaurants as an example, we've put together the best tips to create compelling social media strategies.
Here's what they know, that you need to know:
1. Get the Basics Right
The starting point for every social profile is the contact details and bio, or "About" section. If the right information is listed, customers will contact you from here. Make sure that the address, phone number, and opening hours are there and easy to find and read. Stepping it up a little, be sure to write a compelling brand story for the restaurant and don't forget the website, reservation booking link or online digital menu link, so that customers can dig deeper into your offering or make a booking with just a click.
2. Consistency is Key
Wherever customers find you online, the information should be the same. This goes for the basic info (address, phone, opening hours), as well as how the brand is presented on the different social platforms. All of our restaurant examples have their own distinctive style, which is easy to spot in every post. Whether it's an event, a picture, a video, or a Story, getting a consistent aesthetic and brand message is key to building relationships with customers and attracting the right audience.
Bonus tip: be consistent with your social media handles across the various accounts you have. This way it's much easier for your to communicate how customers can find you.
3. Know Thy Customer
Consistent messaging comes from knowing your brand and knowing your customer. Every restaurant that does well on social media knows precisely who they are looking to attract, and their content speaks directly to that market. Spend time to research your customer base, their demographic, and what they enjoy about your restaurant. Test different post styles and ask your audience for feedback. Continually analyse your results, and it will quickly become clear what your audience wants to see. Then all you need to do is give it to them.
4. Sell and Engage Separately
Every restaurant wants to get customers through the door, but you should be mindful of designing most of your content to be engaging and fun for your audience and a smaller percentage for promotional use. The most annoying action that users dislike from brands on social media, according to Sprout Social Index, is posting too many promotional posts. People don't follow social media profiles to be sold to, they follow for the fun content, and delicious food pics. People want to be connected to your story and engage with you on a more personal level. Sales will naturally follow later.
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Applying the Right Methods for Success
Now we've got the rules covered, let's look at the six most effective methods for connecting with audiences on social media:
Images are essential on all social platforms. Take the time to capture food in the best light. We meant that literally. A little extra time taking high-quality photos with perfect lighting will play a significant role in tempting more customers into the restaurant and following your profile. If you have an online digital menu, these images should also be uploaded here so that they can be found anywhere customers can find you online.
If you have a stunning venue, fun parties or staff willing to be in the spotlight, video is a great channel to give your customers an impression of the space and the people that they can interact with if they visit. You could do talks about the food, highlights of a party or capture pranks in the kitchen. Off course video of your food and perhaps clips of how it’s prepared is cool too. You can also use these videos in your digital menu.
Here is where your brand, chef, staff and dish preparation can shine. Stories are capturing a lot of attention from under 25-year-olds, with this demographic spending 32 minutes each day attached to Instagram. Your restaurant can steal some of these views with playful behind the scenes style content of staff being silly, new dishes being created or your head chef giving a teasing talk about a new menu in the works.
4. Events, Deals & Special Offers
Want weekly repeat business? Create events to attract customers back again and again. Whether it's a themed party, a discount day or a special occasion event, setting up events on social media makes it simple to invite your followers and encourage them to invite their friends with a one-click share. It could be as simple as a daily happy-hour or a different special offer for each day of the week. That's up to you.
Not as sexy as the previous four methods, but reviews are an essential part of an online presence. Ninety-one per cent of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 93 per cent of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. It's important to encourage customers to add reviews, and it's also critical that you respond to them. Addressing a negative review with a positive attitude and welcoming them back for another chance to impress them is going to make a great impression to anyone reading that online.
The last but not least, use your social media presence to keep your followers informed of your current status i.e. whether you’re open for business, closed due to a lock-down, partly open or only open for takeaways etc. Now with COVID-19 in play, the situation is quite dynamic and can change any day. Use your social media to keep your customers in the loop and engaged.
Social media has mega power for restaurants. While there is a lot to process and plenty of ways to approach it, the best way forward is to start with the basics, gradually play with new tactics and always ask your audience for tips on how you're doing.