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4 Best Ways To Use Social Media Marketing For Restaurants in 2020

restaurant social media marketing in 2020

Looking for the best way to use social media marketing for your restaurant?

That’s exactly what I’m going to cover.

But before we get to that…

It’s hard to imagine that more than a decade ago, social media was merely a place for high school and university students to congregate online.

It was poked fun at and ignored by many businesses for years.

It wasn’t long until social media became a normal activity for everyone.

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Photo credit: Pew Research Center

Soon social media trickled into being more than just online places to keep in touch with friends but also became our homepages, our place to get news, our place to shop and get entertainment.

Just looking at what people do on the bus, while waiting in line, or even walking…and you’ll see how Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube has consumed our lives.

Everything we do revolves around them.

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Photo credit: Pew Research Center

Because of the sheer attention and influence these social media platforms hold, businesses saw the opportunity to utilize them.

We’re going to be going over the best four ways to market your restaurant on social media in 2020.

But before we get to that…let’s first talk about the landscape of social media for restaurants. It’s important to understand that first.

There are many forward-thinking restaurant owners who were already aboard the social media train and used social media to market their business online.

Congratulations to you if you are one of them.

I’m making that emphasis because I know a lot of restaurateurs didn’t see the value in social media marketing.

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The push back I’ve heard in the last 2 – 3 years is mainly because of the lack of direct ROI from social media. There’s no direct association.

  • Putting a dollar into social media agency or ads doesn’t easily translate to more customers.
  • You don’t how getting more likes or comments on a pretty photo actually puts bums into seats.

Because it is hard to connect the two, a lot of restaurant owners chose to put social media in the back burner.

But slowly they are starting to wake up and understand the importance of social media.

The reality is that social media isn’t about getting direct ROI from the platform, but it is more of a brand play. It’s akin to other forms of marketing where you’re building awareness.

And when you show up in front of people’s faces – especially people who are your target market – you stay to be top of mind.

You eventually become familiar by building more and more touchpoints with them.

And maybe – just maybe – when they see what they like after X times, they’ll come into your restaurant.

Research by Google found that the number of touchpoints that lead up to purchase can vary – from 20 to over 500. In their example of Justin, who’s shopping around for a pair headphones, went through 375 touchpoints before making a decision.

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Photo credit: Think By Google

He went through various Youtube reviews, best headphone articles and search queries – a similar path someone that may be looking for a restaurant to eat this weekend.

This means that each touchpoint is important as it can lead to the customer to making the decision on your restaurant. Whether that be seeing your Yelp page, website, mention on a top 10 restaurants article, social media page, or wherever – it matters.

That’s the reason why people are spending thousands of dollars hiring social media people to take pictures for them, to write captions, to interact with their customers.

But in today’s age, this is just not enough.

It is not enough just to post nice pictures. It is not enough to just engage because the market is so saturated now. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are now so saturated with beautiful pictures.

You need the right strategies to actually stand out from the crowd.

Here are four strategies that will help you stand out and market your restaurant on social media.

1.) Using Facebook Ads

Let me preface this point first that I’m 100% against using ads if:

  1. you are don’t understand the purpose and objective of ads and
  2. you don’t have a solid foundation for your business

If you already have a solid foundation and you already have people who are interacting with your brand, then running ads is a viable avenue to explore.

Running ads on Facebook and Instagram is still extremely cheap as opposed to traditional avenues (ie. print ads, radio ads and TV ads).

It’s also super effective when you can combine it with the right strategy.

When we’re running ads, we’re not running ads just to sell people. No, we don’t want to do that.

We want to be able to run ads strategically to show people that, Hey, you know what? This is the behind the scenes process of how we make our food. This is the type of food that we offer. This is the type of people that we serve. This is how they feel about our food after they come and consume at our restaurant. This is behind the scenes. This is how everything is made.

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And then when the timing is right, when you want to promote a certain campaign, you would want to then offer them something in return.

You’d tell them that, you know what, here’s 10% off to try our new XYZ. Or Hey, come during this weekend for this specific promotion.

Running promotions is and should be strategic.

You cannot just send them an offer and expect your customers to come right away.

You need to be able to warm them up. You need to show them behind the scenes, you need to be able to tell them a story. You need to be able to show them behind the scenes of how you are working.

When the timing is right, you’re going to become top of mind for your customers and think of you when they’re hungry.

Use Retargeting

A powerful way of running ads is to retarget.

That’s actually where the true power is when you’re running ads.

Let’s say you want to buy a jacket. After you click on ‘add to cart’ button, your friends calls you to tell you they’re downstairs. So you scramble to get ready and shut your computer off and head out the door. Two hours later you arrive back home, completely forgotten about the jacket, and goes on to binge another episode on Netflix.

You had the intent to buy that jacket, but because life takes over, you forget about the item completely.

The next day you get an email reminding you, Hey, you have this jacket in your cart. We have it saved for you. Check out now and you’ll get 10% off.

Has something like that happened to you? (bet you have)

That’s called retargeting.

That’s showing up in your inbox, showing up in your feed, telling you that, Hey, you know what? You forgot about me but I’m here.

You can do the same thing with your restaurant as well.

For example, when people actually interact with your ad, they’re like, Hey, you know what? I really like this product. I really like this menu of yours. I really like this recipe of yours.

And next time whenever you have a promotion, you show it in front of my face, now because of the fact that I love your branding, I’m much more inclined to actually come to your restaurant and try out your stuff.

And that’s the power of retargeting.

That’s the power of being timely with the ads so you’re not just running ads because everyone else is doing it.

You need to have a strategy, you need to have objectives and you need to be able to retarget in a timely manner.

2.) Obsess About Your Reviews

Yes, review sites are social media as well because this is a platform where people can actually search for your restaurant and even interact with others.

Believe it or not, more than 80% of people go on review sites like Yelp, Google reviews, or Trip Advisor before deciding to go to a restaurant or not?

This means you need to make sure you not only have a presence on these different sites but also taking active steps to increase your rating.

That’s because a half star rating increase can increase traffic by 30%.

What that means is that if you have a three and a half star versus someone that has a four-star, and yet you guys serve the same thing, people actually go and prefer the place with that half a star more.

30% more traffic isn’t a small number. It could make a massive difference, which is the reason why you need to really care about your reviews.

But Wilson, I don’t have many reviews, or my restaurant just started, I don’t know how to get reviews.

Well, you need to make sure that you strategize on getting reviews. It doesn’t matter if it is good reviews or bad reviews. What matters is honest reviews.

You can always work towards making sure your product satisfies your customers.

On the same token, if your product sucks, then it doesn’t matter if your reviews are not because you shouldn’t even be in the restaurant business.

I’m saying this if you have a good product that you can actually improve upon, that you can actually serve to the customer, that customers actually enjoy it.

Getting More Reviews

The easiest way to get reviews is to incentivize your customers.

Incentivize them with, for example, a drink for every time they come in and show that they have left a genuine review. Or perhaps having a sign out your door or on the counter that says, “Hey, please leave us a review on Yelp if you enjoyed your experience!”

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Because a lot of times if you don’t ask, you shall never receive.

Just like how at the end of every Youtuber’s video they’ll always ask you to give them a thumbs up (a like), comment, and subscribe to their channel because all of these things help them. If the viewer enjoyed the video, they’ll likely do the action.

Whenever you do receive reviews, respond to them regardless of whether it is a bad or good comment. If you suspect a troll review where people are just complaining about you in an unwarranted way, reply and put some character into it.

Make it fun.

For example, a troll review that gave you 1 star for how bored you looked, you can be like, Hey, this is how I look. How dare you?

Or something along the lines of that.

Show your character because people who are actually reading these reviews, they’re human too. They understand what is a true review and what are the reviews aren’t actually warranted.

If it is a warranted review that is a negative one, then own up to it. Apologize and tell them to let youo make it right for them. Take the criticism and actually improve.

People are much more forgiving if you’re honest and if you own up to it.

Do not take review sites lightly because they can make or break your business.

3.) Be Genuine With Influencer Marketing

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The third way to market on social media for your restaurant is through influencer marketing.

Influencers are basically the cool kids in the class. They’re individuals that people look up to (kind of). They’re the people that are outspoken and they’re the most popular people.

They’re like prom Kings and the prom Queens.

These are the people that you want to reach out to and offer them to come into your restaurant to have a free meal.

The key is to not pressure them into writing a post but to come and experience what you have to offer. If you’re genuine about that, a lot of times these influencers would naturally share their experience with their community and friends if they had a good time.

When you make it a transactional exchange (meal for a post), it strips away the organic feel of it. And it puts them in an awkward spot if they didn’t like the food.

And when they feel like they’re compelled to still post, there’s a good chance that the post will happen but don’t expect any good words to come out of their mouths when their friends ask for recommendations.

Why Partner With Influencers?

Influencers are the major players in town and major influence for your restaurant because a lot of times you can actually leverage their customer base. They may have 5, 10, 20 thousand subscribers and followers that actually watch what they have to post and get recommendations from.

So if they had a pleasant experience at your joint, then majority of the time they can influence their following as well.

When we first started 720 Sweets 5 years ago, the first day that we opened there was a food blogger who came in and posted about us. The next day, three more of her friends came in and tried our ice cream.

They asked us if they can post for us and at that time. At that time, I didn’t know what was influencer marketing. But I just said that, Hey know what? I just want to serve you. I just want to bring the best dessert to the market.

And because of this attitude that we had, we were able to actually have them post for us and talk about their experience on social media. In turn, we became super busy the third day onwards and within the first year we expanded to three shops. All because of influencer marketing.

So this is not something you want to take lightly nowadays. This whole influencer industry has transformed, has evolved and has matured within these 5 years. It’s now a lot easier to find the right individuals who would be a good fit to work with and invite.

And even if you do choose to compensate an influencer and go down a more in depth campaign with them, there are many tools out there to inspect their level of authority and the strength of their community. That way you can have a better idea what kind of metrics you can expect from the collaboration.

Now, I know we talked a lot about influencers, social media, influencers and stuff like that. However, you don’t want to oversee the importance of catering to influencers that are offline as well.

We’re talking about people that are not really on social media but has a lot of following and it has a lot of networks. For example, people that are in the real estate game or people who are in the banking industry, they love your product, they come and try it out and they’re like, Hey, you know what? I can bring this back to my branch. Or real estate agent, hey, know what? I really liked this. I want to buy a bunch of this stuff or buy a bunch of gift cards and gift it to my association.

These are all things that you do not want to oversee. Even though they’re not on social media, they too have a lot of influence. They too hold a lot of weight through word of mouth marketing.

Nonetheless, if you can actually combine the effect of social media and influencer marketing with word of mouth marketing, that becomes a really strong synergy and a big combo that can help your restaurant market in today’s age.

4.) Longevity Is In Your Community

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Fourth and final way to market on social media for your restaurant is to be able to build a community.

This is something that I personally am an advocate of.

I do not run any paid promotions until I can build a solid base, a foundation of fans that love our product and love our service and loves us in general.

If you don’t there is no loyalty, there is no way you can demand a premium if people don’t view you as a brand. If they don’t love you, they only treat you like a commodity.

And when you are treated as a commodity, how do people value you? They value you by price.

So if you’re not the cheapest in town – the most bang for the buck – then they’re not going to come to you because they view you as a commodity.

However, if they view you as a brand that they love, then they’re willing to support your journey. And then they’re willing to pay a premium and then they have that loyalty for your brand.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have competitors that are open around the block, they’ll still come to you because they want to support you and are a loyal fan of yours.

How to build a loyal fan base

Now, having said that, how do you build a loyal fan base?

A lot of times this comes from personal engagement. These are things that are not scalable. These are things that require one on one interaction, that you need to care for them, that you need to show them that you appreciate them.

Some simple gestures like: addressing them by their first name and caring about their lives.

When you do this genuinely, they feel Oh, I’m a VIP. Ooh, I’m special.

And in turn, slowly but surely they become regulars and they become loyal fans of you, sharing along your story.

This in turn helps you start accumulating fans one by one.

So there you go, the four ways to market your restaurant on social media in 2020.

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