Restaurant marketing has changed significantly in the last 10 years. People are spending more time online than they are watching TV, listening to the radio and reading print media. Furthermore, user-generated reviews are beginning to carry more weight in purchasing decisions.

When people are deciding where to spend their money, they will go to the business that is front-of-mind and highly recommended. It becomes quite clear why social media is an essential part of a restaurant’s strategy.

Businesses use social media as a key channel for brand awareness (85 percent), community engagement (71 percent), content distribution (61 percent), lead generation (54 percent) and customer support (21 percent), according to Buffer’s State of Social report.

With help from BusinessBlocks’ restaurant marketing coach, Leslie Pave, we created a short guide on best practices to help you get the most out of your social media marketing efforts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram

Instagram has one of the most active and engaged user bases. The photo and video-sharing app is the perfect place to connect with your customers by sharing a new menu item or giving them a sneak peak of a special event.

Top 5 tips for Instagram:

  • Search for posts mentioning your restaurant and respond to comments on posts and posts mentioned.
  • Identify the right influencers to follow. You want followers who genuinely want to see your content.
  • Scan regularly through your feed to “like” and comment on supportive businesses and partners.
  • Consider “Regramming” good photos from patrons. You can easily do this by downloading a free tool called Repost.
  • Don’t forget to include a hashtag to help with content discovery and optimization. Eighty-eight percent of brand posts include at least one hashtag, and those posts average 12.6 percent more engagement.

Facebook

Facebook is the leading platform for marketers – 96 percent of businesses use the platform with Twitter following close behind at 89 percent, according to Buffer’s State of Social 2018 report.

Top 5 tips for Facebook:

  • Respond to posts on your wall, comments on posts and message from your fans. The goal here is to strengthen the relationship with customers and gain exposure to a wider audience.
  • Use photos and videos whenever possible they get the most engagement on Facebook.
  • Check the “Activity” section on the left-hand side to see who has checked-in at your restaurant. Like, comment on or share their posts.
  • Tag pages mentioned in the post by typing the @ symbol followed by the company name. If they have a Facebook page, they should appear in the drop-down. Otherwise, go to their website to see if they have a link.
  • Create an Event Page for all your restaurant’s event. Event Pages are a great way to keep event details and changes accessible to you and your customers.

Twitter

Twitter may not be the most important platform for restaurants, but some will gain a lot of exposure here. For example, did a celebrity come to your business and tweet about you? Are you trying to help change the local or national food system and wanted to be heard by the media?

Top 5 tips for Twitter:

  • Go through your timeline and engage in conversations with potential and existing strategic partners. You can also learn more about how to identify and build meaningful relationships for your business here.
  • Respond to tweets mentioning your restaurant by searching for “restaurant name)” and selecting “Latest” at the top of the page. If you’d like to learn more about how to navigate customer feedback and better manage your online presence, check out this blog post.
  • Since Twitter has a character limit, use Bitly, a link optimizing platform, if you need to shorten a URL.
  • Always include a photo whenever possible.
  • Highlight the latest or most relevant post at the top of your timeline by using the “Pin to your profile page” feature.

If you find that people are not engaging with your tweets like they do with Facebook or Instagram, you are not alone. Check regularly to see what people are saying about you and respond to customer service issues. Otherwise, spend more time cultivating your Facebook and Instagram audiences.

Spreading the word about your restaurant takes time and effort. But with these marketing tips, you have the foundational knowledge to help you get started.

Lastly, make sure to always have your audience in mind as you think about individual postings and the overall narrative you’re trying to craft for your brand.

This is an abbreviated version of our 2018 Beginner’s Social Media Guide for Restaurateurs eBook. Download the full copy today.