social media

It’s new. It’s exciting. But it’s not something many restaurant businesses are good at. Get it right, and social media will offer you unprecedented opportunities to engage with existing customers and attract new ones. Here’s how…

Get Set Up On Social Media

Social Media is making it easier than ever to communicate with your customers, 365 days a year. So your restaurant needs to be part of it. Facebook is definitely king of social media channels, but where you focus the majority of your attention should depend on the people you’re aiming to target:

• Facebook – average age of users in USA = 40.5 years
• Twitter = 37.3 years
• Snapchat = under 21
• Instagram has the largest share of users aged 18-29, with 66% female

Turn Likes On Facebook Into Bums On Seats In Your Restaurant

Reward people who take the time to like your Facebook content by offering rewards from time to time. How about a free appetizer for the first 25 people to like a certain post? It’s a great way to get some sales-focused Facebook content on people’s newsfeeds. And remember, every time someone likes a post, their friends get to see it, creating a ripple effect that will benefit your business.

Encourage and promote User-Generated Content (UGC)

Photos of beautifully presented meals, or people soaking up the atmosphere in a restaurant. These sort of shots are filling social media feeds, and they’re all great (and free) advertising for your restaurant. You should be doing all you can to promote this User Generate Content (UGC). So why not host a photo contest by asking customers to take shots of your dishes, and rewarding the best one?

Social Media Special Offers And Exclusives

With so much importance placed on engaging customers via social media channels, it makes sense to offer special deals to your fans and followers. The difference being that you can advertise rewards that can be collected on the same day or even within an hour, as a benefit for people who interact with you via social media.

Picture this: the benefits of your brand on Instagram

Instagram is the social channel that’s more about the pictures than any other. So ask yourself which parts of your business are visually the most interesting and get them up on there. Your food and your shopfront should definitely feature. But how about showing pics of other lifestyle things that will interest your customers?

A Timely Tweet To Treat Tummies

Twitter can really drum up business for your restaurant. Be sure to time your tweets to appear on feeds of hungry customers right when their tummies are rumbling most – at breakfast, lunch and dinner times. And don’t forget to use appropriate #hashtags so more targeted people get to see your tweet.

Check out the check-in features of Foursquare

While not as famous as Facebook, Foursquare still has plenty to offer restaurants in terms of marketing opportunities. You can tempt customers with a variety of free deals. All they have to do is ‘check-in’ to your restaurant using their devices. Mashable’s “How To” guide is a great place to learn how to set up your deal, and don’t forget to promote the offer via your other social channels.

React and reply to social media chat about your restaurant

So who’s talking or tweeting about your restaurant? Whoever’s giving you a mention, you can use social media management tools to join the conversation. Use the opportunity to do some off the cuff but highly targeted marketing for your restaurant. And if you want to spread the word further and wider, don’t be afraid to ask for a retweet, which you can do by adding RT to your tweet.

Share Good Reviews Across Social Media

Don’t keep good news or positive press about your restaurant to yourself. Share it with the world. With so much bad news around, anything good is a breath of fresh air and likely to be shared. So more people will get to hear how good your restaurant is and will be more likely to check it out.

Always reply to negative feedback

It’s a fact of life that you will get negative feedback about your restaurant from time to time. The trick is not to sweep the problem under the carpet, but engage the customer, offering suggestions and solutions. Don’t forget, other people will be able to see both the original customer feedback and your response to it, so it’s a chance for you to show the character of your brand.

Post photos of your dishes and drinks

A picture of a beautifully presented main meal appearing on a Facebook feed at lunchtime. Or a photo of an ice cold drink in a Tweet that appears at 5.30. Great photography in a well-time post can work wonders in terms of starting conversations about your restaurant and generating sales.

Incentivize Your Social Media Followers To Spread The Word For You

There’s nothing wrong in encouraging your Twitter and Facebook fans to retweet/mention your social media content and rewarding them for doing so. In fact it’s good social media practice. You can offer those that do special rewards, like dishes that aren’t available to the general public. People like exclusives, and like telling their friends when they get them, via their social media accounts.

Engage social media fans with a Facebook Poll

Everyone’s got an opinion, and Facebook Polls are a great way to give people a chance to tell the world what they think, and start conversations about your brand. Setting up one takes seconds. The sort of questions you could pose include:

• Which of these starters would you like to see added to our menu?
• Live Music Wednesdays. Good idea?

Join In Selected Social Media Conversations

It’s vital that you don’t just sell, sell, sell on your social media channels. Fans and followers will soon get tired of deals and offers every time you post. So get involved in (non-controversial) conversations your customers are having. And post pictures of good times at your place during events, or things that are happening in your life outside the restaurant, so people get to see your human side.

Give social media fans exclusive Insights

Most people are a bit nosey by nature. They like to find out what goes on behind those doors marked ‘Private’. Social media gives you an excellent opportunity to feed that curiosity. Of course, be selective about what you choose to
share. It could be things like:

• How you decide what’s on (and off) the menu
• Introducing new members of staff with a brief video biography
• Company milestones – the chef’s 5th year with the restaurant

Use Social Media To Surprise And Delight Customers


“Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at Newark Airport with a Porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. J”

When Peter Shankman tweeted that tongue-in-cheek message, he never expected to be greeted by a tux-wearing waiter from Morton’s Steakhouse at the airport. But that’s exactly what happened and the internet went crazy for it, giving Morton’s great exposure for very little cost.

Post A Video Of Today’s Special Being Prepared

With so many cookery programmes on TV, it’s clear people like seeing how meals are made. So why not tap into the interest and post a video of your chef preparing that day’s special? It only needs to be a quick video, but posted at the right time, it’ll get stomachs rumbling and maybe a few extra bookings.

Keep Track Of Your Restaurant’s Social Media Presence

With so many social media channels, it stands to reason that someone somewhere was going to develop software to help make managing it all easy. A couple of the most popular free options are:

• HootSuite – keep tabs on all your social media networks and create custom streams and schedule posts.
• Buffer – easily find, schedule and share articles across your network