Food porn. Chef mode. #Eeeeeats.
These days, everyone is #eatingfortheinsta. No longer can we check, swipe, stalk or scroll without finding food in our social media feeds. Whether or not you’re personally active in social media, your restaurant cannot afford to avoid a social presence. Unfortunately, many struggle to find the time to gather the most effective and meaningful social content.
The good news is, social doesn’t require a lot of time once the strategy is developed. Sometimes the simplest strategies can yield effective engagement and increased interest in your restaurant.
Build Appetite. Build Brand Presence
While restaurants should use social to increase awareness, it’s not as imperative to maintain a presence on every platform. For its strong visual focus, stick to Instagram as your main account. Yes, maintain a Facebook page, but don’t feel the need to update it every day or even every week. As organic reach continues to dwindle, Facebook is primarily where guests will find key information, including hours, location, links and events. If you host special events, Facebook Events are a great way to increase their exposure. Create an event page, and if you have a paid budget, put a small promotional boost to increase event awareness and RSVPs.
Increase Reach With Partners and Paid
Foodies are always looking for the next delicious dish, pop-up and enticing dining event, but, on average, social users normally wait until they see branded content 2-4 times before they decide to try a new experience for themselves. If your social channels don’t boast a large presence, working with paid budgets or local partners is the fastest way to increase awareness and reach potential diners, on multiple points.
To boost content with paid media, it’s best practice to set up a Facebook Business Manager for your brand. If you’re limited on time and resources, you can also boost Instagram content directly from the app. However, you must keep in mind targeting (and retargeting) options are best in Facebook’s Business Manager.
Partner with influencers and local tastemakers, whose followers are engaged and targeted. These fans are constantly on the lookout to discover new experiences. By taking advantage of a social media partner, you’re directly accessing those #instafoodies where they already are: currated social feeds.
Manage your entire community; answer questions. Social food fans are constantly monitoring OpenTable, Resy, Yelp, and TripAdvisor too. You can even take a stronger lead in your community by responding to your establishment’s reviews and including a “Book Now” button when boosting content.
Measure Sweet Success
The ultimate goal with social media is to drive the diner down the customer funnel: perhaps a potential diner sees a partner post about an event your restaurant is hosting. They engage with the partner, then follow your account to learn more. Now, you’re in their feed, and they continually see your content, until they either decide to visit, book (through the link in your profile, of course) or unfollow.
Or, another journey: you’ve reached a new customer using paid media. They saw a promoted post on Instagram, and now you can use retargeting to reach them on Facebook with your next event, through the event page and ads.
Awareness metrics, such as reach, tell you the number of potential new customers you’ve targeted, while brand lift (measured through Business Manager) will tell you how likely someone is to remember seeing your post or ad in the next two days. Bookings are trackable through any system your establishment uses, and brand sentiment can be tracked on positive and negative reviews, or through post comments with tools like Hootsuite.
Focus on the journey and the metrics that matter: reach (or impressions), brand lift, bookings, and brand sentiment. At a minimum, keep track of the numbers each quarter, to calculate ROI on your efforts and keep a pulse of what consumers say about you online.