A growing number of restaurants are using social media to attract and retain customers. A survey by Cornell University shows 59 percent of chain restaurants and 75 percent of independents use social media channels, with growth expected in the coming years.
To help restaurant owners make the most of every social post, here are seven tips to promote your business:
1. Promote unusual holidays
Most restaurants promote food and drink specials for traditional events like the Fourth of July or the Super Bowl, but there are a ton of non-traditional holidays that revolve around food. When National Cheesecake month or National Fried Chicken Day rolls around, use these unique holidays to post a shot of your menu item like Applebee’s does.
Use this list of Foodie Holidays to plan posts for unusual holidays.
2. Promote special meals
Every restaurant seems to host a special meal or two throughout the year. Whether it’s a charity dinner night or a Mother’s Day brunch, it’s important to promote it on social media.
Start talking about the event a few weeks before so customers can make plans to come out. Be sure to highlight some of the special dishes and prices that’ll you’ll offer. From a $30 all-you-can-eat-buffet to $50 steak dinners, mention both the food and the price point in your posts.
3. Promote your food truck
There’s been a food truck revolution going on across the nation, with more than 4,000 food trucks setting up on street corners across the U.S. with tasty mobile treats. Research shows the average food truck generated $290,556 in 2015, which explains why a growing number of mom-and-pop restaurants are investing in an eatery on wheels.
If your business has a food truck, social media is a great way to let customers know where you’re camping out each day. For instance, give customers the street corner that you’ll be at during the lunch hour.
In addition, you should create an event on Facebook when you plan to participate in special community gatherings like Chef’s, a restaurant in Buffalo, did:
You can use the event to invite Facebook fans, provide location details and give customers a chance to talk about it. Here’s how to set up a Facebook event.
4. Mention your location in posts
Social media platforms continue to improve searching capabilities. On Twitter, for example, followers can now narrow down hashtags by specific categories including posts made “near you.”
No matter what social platform you use, help customers find your restaurant by adding a location-specific hashtag, or mention your city in the post description.
5. Add customers and employees to your posts
Posting a mouthwatering picture of your signature quarter pound burger is great, but don’t forget to mix up your images. Share shots of your employees. Snap a picture of a waitress balancing a huge tray of food, a hostess escorting customers to a table or a cook putting the final touches on a dish.
Take a few shots of your lunch crowd or the regulars that come in to watch every sporting event, and share them on your social channels too. Just make sure you ask permission to take their photo and post it.
6. Offer a check-in deal through Facebook
Did you know restaurants can offer a special discount or coupon through Facebook? It’s true. It works through the “check in” feature on Facebook.
When a customer “checks in” to your restaurant on Facebook a post like this shows up in the customer’s newsfeed:
You can create a special promotion for any customer that checks into your restaurant on Facebook. Facebook does have to approve the promotion before it goes live, which takes a few business days, so it’s something you have to plan ahead. Still, it’s a little-known tool that can benefit restaurants as they reward their social customers for coming in. Here are instructions to set up a check-in promotion on Facebook.
7. Be smart with Facebook cover art
Facebook cover art is prime real estate, and yet, some businesses don’t use it to their advantage. Use the space to showcase a great picture of food, and the thumbnail for your logo. Make sure the images look great, and nothing is cut off. It’s probably advice you’ve heard before, but even large-scale restaurants, like the one below, miss the mark.
Do you use social media to promote your restaurant? What kind of posts work best for you? Share your tips with others in the comment section below.