couple on their phone at dinner

Social media isn’t exactly new, and using Twitter for restaurants is no longer a “nice to have” marketing tactic—it’s practically mandatory. Having the ability to engage countless current and potential customers through simple messages gives you power that owners didn’t have just a decade ago. Using Twitter for restaurants is basically a free, easy-to-use source of advertising, customer support, and even order management.

If you haven’t turned to the bird to get your restaurant’s marketing up to date, read on and see how to use social media for restaurant marketing to introduce a whole new target customer to your establishment.

1. Just Get Started

Starting out on any new social media platform can be overwhelming, but the most important step is to start. Twitter is a little more like a large group conversation where everyone has the ability to chime in, and it can be a bit overwhelming. 

By starting small, you can get a sense of the conversation and find your place in it. Try posting something and see how the conversation flows. If you’re making good points and enticing people to your restaurant, watch the follows and shares start rolling in. The more eyes and ears you catch, the more people will become aware of what you’re promoting.

2. Do What the Locals Do

Once you’ve got the hang of how it works, you can start adopting some best practices by following, responding to, and retweeting other local businesses that are on the platform. Pay attention to other restaurants in your area, take notice of people who seem to comment a lot about dining, and even engage other types of businesses in your area to make professional connections.

A simple like or share of their posts is enough to put you on their radar, hopefully earning their attention in return. Before long, you’ll notice your followers list is growing exponentially.

One final tip: Don’t get frustrated if that followers list is a little lean the first month. It takes time.

3. Offer Exclusive Deals and Discounts

Offer incentives for people to tell you when they came in from a Twitter promotion so that you can track those visits. Or, post coupon-like graphics that customers will need to show before getting their reward. If your followers see they’re getting exclusive opportunities, they’ll share them with people they know. Word of mouth is an effective way to build your follower list.

4. Use Twitter for Customer Service

Twitter is a great way to show customers (and their followers) that you’re an interactive, approachable establishment that cares about its guests.

This can be as simple as acknowledging any and all people who leave nice feedback about their dining experience. People will actually document their meals in real time if they’ve enjoyed your restaurant, telling all their connections that your place needs to be experienced for a dish, or that the service was impeccable. 

But this goes beyond saying “thanks” and moving along. To turn regular discourse into marketing savvy, use this opportunity to show there are real people behind the Twitter avatar. Ask people what menu items they’d like to see, and encourage them to come back and try a new menu item. 

If customers see that genuine people are making a concerted effort to reach out and connect, it will reflect favorably on your restaurant, and boost the number of reservations you book down the line.

Ready to get started marketing your restaurant on social media? Download our Social Media Checklist.

5. Understand the Etiquette

If you are using Twitter to market your restaurant, the one thing you should not be doing is badmouthing your competitors, or even customers. (Yes, it happens!)

On the other hand, if you do encounter any criticism, address it head on. Don’t ignore these folks because their next angry statement will be that you also don’t bother to respond to your customers. This is your chance to turn haters into your new restaurant evangelists, or at the very least, put out a fire before it grows. One simple resolution or apology can turn an “The waiter at @YourRestaurant is so rude,” into a “Thanks so much to @YourRestaurant for the free drinks—great apology!”

6. Don’t Over-Promote

You should tweet your daily specials, upcoming events and any news items, but make sure that when someone looks at your page, they’re not just seeing your promotional efforts. It’s important that you mix in conversations you’re having with customers, support for your community, and tips and tricks that offer value to your followers. 

7. Get Visual

In addition to having someone help you create fun, promotional images to announce a special event on your calendar, focus on the food. Take photos of your nightly specials, or a crowd shot of a busy night at the bar. Photos inspire people to come check out your restaurant.

8. Be a Good Listener

Lots of customers forget to add the @ sign when they mention your restaurant, which is why a service like Hootsuite is a big help. It allows you to monitor when someone uses a specific keyword (like the name of your business). If you operate a family-friendly diner in Toms River, you can even monitor terms like “breakfast in Toms River” or “diners in South Jersey.” (Bonus tip: Hootsuite also allows you to schedule tweets ahead of time, and set up multiple users for your account if you’re enlisting others to help.)

Even without using a social media service, you can still search Twitter for the name of your restaurant to see if it’s popped up in any conversations without you being officially tagged.

9. Get Involved in Local Tweetups

Local tweetups, or in-person networking events between Twitter acquaintances, are a real thing. Figure out what’s going on in your area, and see how you can participate. Consider sponsoring the hors d’oeuvres at a local tweetup, or just going to network and promote your loyalty program incentives. Tweetup organizers have a list of go-to vendors for these events, and just one event will land you dozens, if not hundreds of public thank you’s on Twitter.

10. Get Personal

Consider using your face as the avatar, rather than a logo. The account should also include something about the real person behind the account. And don’t be afraid to reach out to your regular customers who also happen to follow you. Write a tweet along the lines of, “Hey @theirname, it was so nice to have you in tonight. Hope that ribeye was perfection!”

The more you use social media marketing for restaurant brand awareness and promotion, the better you’ll get at it. And Twitter is among the best platforms to do just that. Good luck, and happy tweeting.

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All restaurant marketing strategies need social media. With these checklists, you can set up and master the major networks in no time at all.

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Written by   |  
Brad Bortone is a writer, editor and content marketer, published in areas ranging from content strategy to music reviews, and seemingly everywhere in between. Brad's love of the food industry began during his tenure with Johnson & Wales University's web team, writing countless pieces about - and enjoying countless lunches from - the school's esteemed culinary program.