guests laughing over a light snack in a restaurant

Social media for restaurants is no longer about who has the greatest marketing spend, it’s about who has the better understanding of their guests and what they want from the brand.

No one knows your guests better than you do. And these exact people are your target audience.

As a restaurateur with limited time, what can you do today to build or take advantage of your knowledge of your target audience and a social media presence to drive more regulars into your restaurant?

Step 1: The cardinal rule of social media: it’s not about you.

You need to be 100% guest forward. Learn who the influencers are, learn what the trends are, and your brand will shine.

  • Listen: What are your guests saying about you, your competitors and the industry? Take the time to listen before you engage.
  • Learn: Identify the influencers and trends. Who is driving the conversation and how can you take those insights and turn them into action?
  • Adapt: Just as social channels are changing rapidly, so are the guests using them. Always keep your key brand loyalists in mind when you explore new strategies and tactics.

Waitress delivering restaurant customer service

The bottom line is it’s a blend of being where your guests and knowing what’s important to them. Once you’ve researched your audience enough to figure out where they are online and what makes them tick, you’re ready for the next crucial piece of advice.

Step 2: Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

For restaurateurs, there are 5 social networks that are tops with diners: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, and OpenTable. However, just because there are 5 networks ideal for restaurants, that doesn’t mean you have to start all 5 at once.

For example, if your audience is mostly women 18-24, research would tell you that Instagram would be the best platform to jump into. Spending a little time upfront researching your potential audience and which social platforms are most popular with that audience could save you valuable posting hours in the long run.

Then, once you’ve identified the most effective channel for your guests, you can create the appropriate strategy to target your audience.

Step 3: Practice Your ABC’s

Yes, it really can be that simple.

  • Always Respond. Don’t play favorites to those with a large social network. The average Facebook user has 130 friends, but just because someone has more or less doesn’t mean they’re any more or less valuable to your business. Respond to everyone in a timely manner.
  • Be Transparent. You want fans on your Facebook Page to be engaged with you, but you also need them to know that you are engaged, too. Answer questions, address concerns and acknowledge when people take the time to post on your page.
  • Capture Attention: Food not only tastes and smells delicious — it looks beautiful, too. Pictures and video are key (especially on Instagram), but if photography isn’t your thing, sometimes a sensory description will do the trick.

Don’t Forget: At the end of the day, social media is a resource that restaurateurs need to engage with to stay relevant and increase guest loyalty. As with all restaurant marketing strategies, build a strategy that works for you, measure it and test it. Rinse and repeat.

>>Wondering what your guests are talking about on social media? Keep reading.<<

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In a perfect world, Theresa would spend her days reading good books and writing all the time... and she'd own all the shoes her heart desired. When she's not on the hunt for shoes, you can find this Rhode Island transplant on the hunt for food that comes close to "Long Island". Her favorite? Caffe Dolce Vita in Providence's historic Federal Hill.