Business owner is using laptop

Facebook and other social media is often positioned as something you “should do.” But why? It’s your livelihood and unless you can see the fruits of your labor, Facebook seems like a waste of your time and energy. This is why many owners and operators set it and forget it when it comes to their Facebook page—leaving it on the back burner—to the peril of their restaurant marketing strategy.

Facebook Marketing Statistics Show Growth Opportunities

The third most-visited website in the world, Facebook is used by 68 percent of Americans, according to social media scheduling platform Hootsuite. And those who are using it spend an average of 58 minutes per day on the site, accessing it from their mobile devices 88 percent of the time. That’s almost an hour a day that your business has the opportunity to make an impression on a potential customer. In fact, Hootsuite reports that the average Facebook user clicks on 8 ads per month. Of those ads, SproutSocial reports, images account for 75 to 90 percent of performance, so be sure to include great shots of dishes and ambiance to capture attention and engagement.

While it might seem foreign at first, using Facebook is a relatively easy thing to do once you get the hang of it and, once you’re up and running, there are some serious benefits to be had.

1. Fans Endorse Your Business for Free

There’s several ways that Facebook can act as a referral tool. It’s important to remember that Facebook friends generally know each other so there’s a higher level of trust in the opinions of those in their network.

The easiest way to create free referrals is to have guests “check in” to your location from their Facebook app and like your page. Checking in to a location informs a user’s friends that they are at that physical location. Liking a page is a quick way to continue to engage with the customer (and their friends) once they leave the restaurant.

Make sure to promote that you are on Facebook with a call to action, and by telling your customers why. For example: “Like us on Facebook for exclusive deals and to learn our daily specials!” This way they are not being asked to like the page for your benefit, but for theirs.

opening a coffee shop plan

2. Make Slow Times Busier

Most restaurants have a night of the week where they wish they could get a couple more seats filled. Facebook is a great way to incentivize and bring in business on your slow nights.

Start by sharing a post for a half-price dessert or signature cocktail for a specific night of the week and time frame. (Wish you knew which items on your menu are bringing customers back? Find out here.) You can either provide a coupon code and ask guests to show the coupon on their phone or ask for a specific special by name such as the “Half-Price Dessert App from Facebook.”  

3. Keep All Your Info in One Place

While Facebook may never replace your restaurant’s website, it can easily house more information and is very easy to update.

Have great specials? Take a picture and share on Facebook and everyone knows. Load the info section with your phone number, email, website. Upload pictures of crowd pleasing dishes that will entice your fans while browsing their phones.

Facebook is also a great place to share favorable reviews, press, and behind the scenes media so that users feel like your restaurant is a thriving community.

Start acquiring new customers and keep them coming back with help from our Restaurant Social Media Checklist.

4. Easily Schedule Ads

Scheduling your ads is a very simple process. You can have them start immediately or schedule them to start at a later date or even save them and fill out the rest of the details at another time, which means that you can spend one afternoon planning for and scheduling your posts for, say, an entire week rather than having to sit down at a computer every time you want to post something.

Here’s one way to use ad scheduling:

You could create a bunch of different ad campaigns for the entire next year. One for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, wedding season, back-to-school, and so on. Get all of your ideas out of your head and revisit your ads later on. You’ll save yourself time and free space in your brain for more marketing campaigns.

Ad campaigns are purchased two ways, as CPM (cost for one thousand impressions) or CPC (cost per click). As a Facebook Ad newbie, stick with CPC ads because they are the easiest to understand and track.

The price range estimate is OK at best. Here’s a little secret: Bid two cents over the lowest suggested bid. Once your ad campaign is running, check back every couple of hours to see if the bid price has changed for your campaign. In most cases it will be lower than you are currently bidding so you can re-bid and run your campaign at a lower cost per click rate.

Be sure to set your budget to what your are comfortable spending. There’s a big difference in spending $50 per day and $50 per month.

To get a really in depth overview of the entire Facebook advertising platform check out this guide that was created by the Ad team at Facebook it walks you through the entire process.

Business executive working on laptop in restaurant

If you’re inspired and ready to get started with Facebook marketing for your restaurant, here are two quick tips to keep in mind as you hit the ground running:

  • Respond to Comments Quickly: “We never want to delete any negative reviews,” Ashley Tyson, a social media manager at 4Food tells Mashable. “No one expects a restaurant to be perfect,” she continues, but they do expect honest replies and a genuine effort to fix any problems mentioned by customers on social media. It’s also important to treat all Facebook users equally rather than only focusing on people with a high number of friends—anyone has the potential to be a valuable, repeat customer no matter how wide of a social media reach they have.
  • Enjoy a Place to Show Off: As Restaurant Den explains, “Facebook allows you to brag a little about your delicious meals, your ability to cater to the hungriest hoards, and even to showcase your amazing staff.” Facebook is where you want to toot your own horn and show your customers exactly what you have to offer and how great it is. If you’re offering a special on one of your signature dishes or have an especially talented chef in the kitchen, use Facebook to share those things with your customers to get them coming back again and again.
restaurant social media checklists for ebooks

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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Cinnamon is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and journalist who paid a large part of her way through college and graduate school by serving. Her work has been published with outlets like National Geographic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, and more. You can read more about her at www.cinnamon-janzer.com.