Restaurants often talk about establishing a social media presence. However, most restaurants already have such a presence, whether they know it or not. It is likely that people are discussing your restaurant on Facebook, sharing photos of your food or decor on Instagram, and posting reviews to sites like Yelp and Foursquare. The real question is not whether you should have a social media presence, but whether you are taking steps to control and shape the narrative. All of this contributes to your bottom-line one way or another, so it is definitely worth your time to address your situation sooner rather than later.
Here are five tips for ensuring that your social media story is one that positively impacts your revenues:
- Choose the Right Platforms
Today, there are a staggering number of social networking sites to choose from, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, Yelp, Foursquare, and YouTube, to name a few. Maintaining a consistent presence on all of them is next to impossible, so do some research and start with one or two platforms that are likely to reach your target audience. For example, a younger audience is more likely to use Instagram or Snapchat than Facebook, while the opposite is typically true of older diners.
- Stake Your Claim
You may already have a listing on sites like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Maps. Most of these sites allow you to claim your listing as the owner. This is a must as you can ensure that all of the details about your restaurant are accurate.
- Join the Conversation
Set up profiles on your chosen social media platforms and join the conversation — but avoid sales pitches. Engage existing and potential followers with interesting, valuable content, such as photos of food, drinks, menus, informational articles or news about local events. Let followers know about specials and promotions and offer discounts or other rewards to followers who spread the word about your restaurant (using a specific hashtag, for example). Post frequently enough to keep followers interested, but not so often that it becomes tiresome. Generally, one to two posts per week is enough.
- Enhance Your Image(s)
In a recent survey by TripAdvisor, 60% of U.S. respondents said that online photos influence their dining decisions. Rather than rely on diners’ cell-phone pictures, post your own high-quality photos of your restaurant’s menu items, interiors, and exteriors. You do not necessarily need a professional photographer to create mouth-watering photos, but a decent camera and some basic lighting equipment can go a long way toward projecting your desired image.
- Protect Your Reputation
According to TripAdvisor, 94% of U.S. diners are influenced by online reviews, so it is critical to monitor and respond to these reviews, both positive and negative. Let happy customers know that you appreciate their feedback, and address negative reviews quickly. There is little you can do to remove negative reviews, but responding to them lets both the reviewer and prospective diners know that you care about customer satisfaction. A Harris survey found that of customers who received a response to a negative review, 34% deleted those reviews and 33% turned around and posted a positive review.
Related read: “Secrets of Bad Restaurant Reviews and Cheery Customer Service“
These are just a few of the steps you can take to maintain a consistent, positive social media presence. Whatever your strategy, it is critical to be proactive, keep your content fresh, and address any negative feedback quickly. There are a variety of software tools available, such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social, to help you manage your social media accounts, monitor their activity and analyze the effectiveness of your posts. If growing revenues are important to you and your business, then paying attention to your social media presence is crucial.