Keeping consumers in the know is just a click away.
Your to-do list pushed you to motor all around town, and now it’s getting late. You’re far from home, hungry and, well, you haven’t planned anything for dinner anyway.
A search for “restaurants near me” lands you on a glowing review of an Italian place a few blocks away. Two traffic lights later, you’re in front of a carbonara plate that tastes as good as it looked online.
Restaurant social media for the win.
Know the do’s and don’ts
A Facebook digital commerce toolkit explains 84% of consumers decide where to eat less than an hour before a meal. The first stop for many people is online, and if your restaurant lacks a social media presence, you may be losing business.
There are a lot of options out there, and it can be overwhelming. Should I be on Facebook? Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn … all of the above? How often should I post? And what types of images, videos or messaging work best?
It’s a lot to consider. As the holiday season approaches, Gordon Food Service® Digital Marketing Supervisor Kristin Johnston suggests some do’s and don’ts that are even more important than promoting special events and LTOs on social media. For example:
DO stay relevant and up to date. “We saw this explode during COVID, with people relying on current information about hours of operation, seating and service changes.”
DO make sure your online menu is current. “If you’re out of something or have to make a substitution, be transparent.”
DON’T ignore your social media pages. “If you haven’t updated your Facebook page in two years, I have no idea what you serve or if you’re still open.”
DON’T think social media isn’t for you. “It has become necessary for almost every business.”
Do I need a pro?
Overall, Johnston says, avoid thinking social media is too advanced for you and that you have to hire professional services and photographers to do the job.
“Do I think hiring a pro is worth it? Yes – professionals will give you a lot of quality, but I also understand the expense,” she said. “If you can’t do it, you may have someone you trust on your staff who can manage social media for you. And we all have great-quality cameras on our phones.”
For operators who hire professional photographers, Johnston suggests getting someone shoot images of staffers, the environment and the entire menu.
“That way, you don’t have to think, “Well, they shot two images, so there’s two social posts, and I’m done’ – it will give you content for a long time,” she said.
Budget-friendly photography may be as close as a local college or art school. Johnston points out that students want to build portfolios, have equipment, know about proper lighting and will likely be more affordable.
Turn negatives into positives
When you have a robust social media presence, be prepared to interact with followers. New customers will find you and loyal customers watch for what’s new. On the flip side, some people will post negative comments.
Don’t fret, and don’t ignore it, Johnston says, save that for the cranks, bots or spammers trying to pick a fight.
Otherwise, criticism can work in your favour.
“Resist deleting comments – unless they are slander or harassment – but always respond,” she advises. “You can “like” positive comments and respond to negative ones by apologizing, offering to make it right, or just asking people to contact you directly.”
What matters is that people see your restaurant is paying attention and engaging. They know there’s a person behind the social media screen, and it shows them you’re sincere about creating a good experience.