VOLUME 3 in our series of social media for specific industries is about social media for restaurants. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp have never been more important in determining a restaurant’s success. When I personally look for a new place to eat, I search the web to find customer reviews. Occasionally, I’ll even throw out a question on Facebook, “Hey, anyone know of any romantic restaurants in the valley?” as an example. This is what’s called a social signal, and you, as a restaurant owner, can take advantage of that.
While restaurants are realizing the importance of social media, a recently released a study, “Social Media Use in the Restaurant Industry: A Work in Progress,” by Abigail M. Needles and Gary M. Thompson found that many restaurants are moving ahead without having well-defined social media goals. Added Thompson: “Restaurant operators have the right idea about social media, but they need to focus on a particular goal and a specific market segment. Then they can select the appropriate social media channel. Most of the restaurants in our study are on Facebook, but perhaps Foursquare or blogs would be a better choice, once they refine their goals.”
At Boomopolis, we help develop a strategy for you. We ask our restaurant clients some key questions before we start managing their social media. These are questions that any restaurant owner should have answers to. Here are the top 5 to focus on.
Top 5 Questions Restaurants Need to Ask Before They Begin Their Social Media
1. What is your ultimate goal through social media?
You should have this well-defined before you start. For example, you can say, “I’ll spend 10 hours a month on social media, and I expect 50 new customers and 35 returning customers through my efforts within 3 months.” Another example: “I will spend $3000 over 3 months on social media management, and I expect a ROI of 300% within that time.” To learn about accurate expectations for restaruants, each situation is different, and we can advise of you this via phone.
2. What is your budget for social media?
This can be in terms of hours per month or money per month. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, you can always hire an outside company like ours.
3. What do your customers most respond to about your business?
This can be the atmosphere, the reasonable prices, the menu, etc.
4. What tone would you like to relay to your customers?
Every company has a different voice. Some companies are edgy while others are more refined. You should know yours.
5. What are your top 10 keywords that would drive customers to your business?
Some examples: “romantic dining Los Angeles”, “Chinese Food Springfield”, “restaurants for big parties in Malibu”.
BONUS: Is there anything unique to your narrative?
Maybe your father started the business 20 years ago, and you took over. People like behind the scenes stories.
Once we begin a campaign, we use a number of different tactics in order to get the best results for our restaurant clients. If you manage your own social media, here are a few tips.
1. Make sure you have accounts on all the major networks. The top social networks for restaurants are: Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google+, Trip Advisor, You Tube, and FourSquare. Foursquare allows users to “check in” to the different venues including stores, restaurants and events via their smart phones. By claiming your business listing on Foursquare you have the ability to see who is “checking in” to your restaurant in real-time.
2. Blog. Like any other businesses, it’s important to blog. How often should restaurants blog? The more the merrier, but a minimum of twice a month.
3. Tweet and Do Status Updates. Again, the more the merrier, but at least once a day.
4. Great Content. What should restaurants post or blog about? Here a few suggestions: new projects such as new openings or remodels, show off new menu items, include a customer review in one of your blogs.
5. Respond to customer complaints online as soon as possible.
6. Get Alerted by Google: Visit http://www.google.com/alerts and set up an account. You can tell Google to send alert messages to your e-mail whenever your restaurant name is mentioned online and they will send you a link to the site where your restaurant is mentioned.
7. Follow and Connect. On Twitter, you can search for phrases like “Need a good Italian restaurant in Springfield,” and a list of users will pop up who have said that. At that point, you can follow them, and the user will see your restaurant. If they follow you back, you can send them direct messages. Ideally, you should attempt to connect with every one of your customers through social media. Your Twitter handle and or Facebook page should be on a receipt, and printed materials should be in your restaurant – either on the menu or in the window.
8. Record videos and upload them to You Tube. It can be something simple like a tour of the restaurant.
9. Join groups on Facebook or LinkedIn about your particular kind of food.
10. Get on TV – commercials, radio, print, etc. and become a social commentator / thought leader about the restaurant industry or your type of food – Our sister site, Contestantville.com is a great place to start.
Do you own a restaurant? Did this article help? Please let us know your thoughts.
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