You serve amazing food, provide stellar service, and have an ambiance that can’t be beat, but your diner loyalty is still not where you want it to be. So what’s the deal? Why aren’t your customers coming back as often as you would like? Well, it could come down to your social media strategy.
That’s right: in the food service industry, social media is no longer optional, so you'd better get on board.
Why does social media matter?
Today’s diners are attached to their cell phones.
Of people with online access, Pew Research reports that a whopping 73 percent are using social media. And these users are doing everything from connecting with business owners to sharing stories about their experiences to looking for coupons and specials.
When you interact with your regulars via social media, you are building a connection with them. They realize that you really care about their satisfaction and that there is a real person behind the restaurant that they love.
This gains you loyal customers for life.
What platforms should I be on?
There are so many different social media sites out there today, so it can seem overwhelming to attempt a social media strategy. Luckily, there are really only four sites you need to focus on for the food service industry:
- Twitter – This site is all about hashtags and 140-character updates. It’s about interacting with your customers, asking questions, and participating in trending topics.
- Facebook – Much more slow-paced than Twitter, Facebook is where you can really build relationships with your regulars. From sharing stories to offering promotions to receiving reviews, Facebook is a one-stop shop for your marketing strategy.
- Instagram– This site is a photo-sharing platform that is especially popular with the younger demographic (ages 18-29), making it an ideal place to show off your menu items and friendly staff members.
- Yelp – As the go-to restaurant review website, Yelp is one of the most important places for you. Checking in frequently means that you can quickly resolve issues and demonstrate to other readers that you are in the business of keeping your patrons happy.
How do I use these platforms?
While the general rules of all social media platforms are the same (provide engaging content, offer value to your followers, focus on building the connection and not on sales), there are a few little tricks of the trade that can push your participation a step further.
- Twitter– Twitter is all about the hashtags (#mexicanfood), which make your tweets searchable by the masses. Use them as often as possible-- especially when you post something during prime meal times ( #dinner).
- Facebook– Since the Facebook news feed is more static, you only want to post once or twice per day. When you do, don’t make it all about you. Ask your fans questions and share interesting pictures or stories to get them talking. Always respond to comments and throw out a few offers exclusively for your Facebook fans.
- Instagram– With Instagram, you want to post appealing pictures of your food with catchy captions (e.g., "Doesn’t this make your tummy grumble?"). It is also a good strategy to include pictures of your employees at work to give your business a more relatable appearance.
- Yelp– Whether you signed up for this site or not, chances are your business is already there. You need to claim it pronto. This way, you can update your restaurant’s information, post appetizing pictures of your food, and respond to any negative comments. You can even set up special check-in offers for people who report their visit to your location.
When you are on social media, you are building a base of followers that will become your biggest fans. As long as you treat everyone thoughtfully, respond positively to negative feedback (don’t worry; everyone in the food service industry gets some every once in a while), and stay active, you will notice an increase in repeat customers in no time at all.