With 72 percent of all Internet users active on social media, it is past time for the food service industry to get aboard that train. Some national chains and other producers of delicious cuisine are turning to mega social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to develop an online brand presence and new trends in food service. How can the food industry make the most of social network marketing?
Create a Strategy
Food service companies need to utilize social media sites efficiently, and that starts with developing a strategy. For a coherent plan that has the best chance of success, try organizing your plan into four categories:
Decide who your audience is, it may differ from network to network, and then build your message and concepts around that audience. Pinterest users, for example, might respond to pictures of food while Facebook followers want promotions.
Don’t forget to check out what the competition is up to, as well. This gives you a chance to see what they do right— and what they’re doing wrong.
Give Your Audience a Buzz
Make a game out of social media.
A restaurant in the United Kingdom is getting a lot of attention for more than just their great food. They create a buzz using hashtag games like asking the Twitter universe to point out their favorite dishes using song lyrics. With strategies like this, they have built over one million followers on Twitter.
Add Some Personality
Social media users want to feel like a party of a community not just consumers being pandered to. Businesses can take things to the next level by adding a personal touch in addition to the regular promotions that they’re already running.
Focus on customer feedback, telling inspiring stories from around your community, offering insight into how the business runs and introducing the staff that makes the magic happen.
Promote with Pictures
Post pictures of new products, best-selling menu items and staff picks. Social media should be a showcase for your food and a picture stimulates a thousand taste buds. Images attract the eye in a way words never will— especially given the attention span of the average social media user.
Studies show that photos generate up to 53 percent more “likes.” And likes matter, because every time someone clicks that thumbs up icon, those posts get shared with their friends—many of whom would never see your content otherwise.
You can post images of more than just food, too. Sharing funny memes and inspirational quotes can add personality to your page. Just make sure you keep the pictures tasteful and tasty.
Get All the News
Social media gives food service companies a chance to develop new relationships and repair broken ones. But in order to know what people are saying about you—and stay relevant to conversation— you need to know what your audience is interested in. So it may be helpful to do keyword searches on things like:
- Relevant topics– A casual dining restaurant in Bemidji might do a search for terms like Bemidji restaurants, best burgers in Bemidji, where to eat in Bemidji to see what people are saying about the offerings in the area.
- Your business name– This allows you to see and respond to positive and negative feedback about the company that may be out there. If a reader says something nice about you on Twitter, tweet them a thank you in response. If the feedback is negative, it is time to take immediate action and use some mad customer service skills to fix the problem. This attention will show anyone reading the post that you care about what consumers think.
- Industry trends– Searches are effective ways to learn about new trends in food service, too. Is there a new drink sensation, for example? Are vegetarians fed up with the lack of meatless menu items? Social media allows you to put your ear to the ground and see what is up industry wide.
Social media is big business, no matter what your industry. Get the most from sites like Facebook and Twitter by growing your brand and creating new trends in food service.