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Get more butts in seats with savvy social media


An effective restaurant social media strategy is a must these days. Almost a third of millennials won’t go to a restaurant with a weak Instagram feed. And experts predict a whopping 4.41 billion people will be on social media by 2025.

Beyond the enormous reach of these channels, social media can measurably increase revenue. For example, it can give guests a one-click way to book tables without going anywhere else online. This strategy optimizes convenience, which is a surprisingly big factor when it comes to decision making.

In fact, nine in 10 consumers are influenced in their decisions by convenience, according to the National Retail Federation. So it’s in your best interest to remove even the smallest task that stands between a diner and the ability to reserve a table.

Adding a “book now” button to your social media profiles and posts, both organic and paid, is one sure way to eliminate friction between a guest’s sometimes fleeting impulse to visit a restaurant and them reserving a table. But a button alone isn’t enough to bring people through the doors. You’ll need to grow your audience and attract their attention on various channels.

Here are 10 doable tips for how to market a restaurant on social media:

Quick links
Choose your channels
Make it easy to book a reservation
Use the new features
Add location information
Focus on photos (and videos)
Update decor with social in mind
Keep content fresh
Keep the “social” in social media
Give followers a VIP pass
Dig into the data

Choose your channels

There are many platforms available to connect with an audience and express your brand. Remember: you don’t need to be everywhere. Choose one or two places to focus attention, and make your mark there.

Gravitate toward a platform you already enjoy using—that’s a strong signal you’ve found a match. Another way to figure it out is to ask your regulars which ones they use most. Other factors include size (Meta, which includes both Facebook and Instagram, is the largest platform in the world) and demographics (Gen Z is on TikTok).

Make it easy to book a reservation

If your reservation platform integrates with Facebook and Instagram, take a few minutes to set that up. Adding the “book now” button to your social media presence lets people make a reservation right at the moment they’re eyeing up a mouth-watering photo of a burger or a plate of pasta. The presence or absence of this little button can play a role in how social media affects restaurants.

Use the new features

There’s always something new to experiment with on social media. It can be fun to try out these features, and it’s likely using them will increase your visibility on the platforms, too. Experiment with reels on Facebook, IGTV, and link stickers on Instagram to engage with people outside the main feeds.

Add location information

Restaurants are by nature highly local. Don’t forget to add your address and geotag your posts. This helps both locals and visitors find you when they’re looking for someplace nearby to grab a drink or a bite.

Focus on photos (and videos)

Most social media is highly visual, so it’s worth it to spend some time making your photos and videos the best they can be. You don’t need a special camera or a lot of expertise to start improving.

Even an iPhone can take attention-grabbing photos and videos when you find a spot with great natural light to take them. For still photos, taking a few shots will let you pick the best option. And remember, images don’t need to be perfect to be great. A lack of polish (or video editing) can convey authenticity to your audience.

Update decor with social in mind

Marketing a restaurant with social media involves making the space camera-ready. One of the best ways to grow your brand is to get guests to share posts about the restaurant. Help this along by providing Instagramable settings. Neon signs, wall paper, and statement artworks all lend themselves to selfies and sharing.

Keep content fresh

Share new content regularly to help followers get to know the brand. It can be a challenge to keep up a steady stream of new posts, but thinking in terms of different buckets of content can help. Consider giving days of the week a theme.

For example, highlight a team member on Mondays, share food photos on Tuesdays, and give updates about the restaurant on Fridays. Other broad categories might include sharing tips or recipes from the kitchen, highlighting favorite suppliers, or sharing any awards or media mentions you’ve received lately. Mix it up to keep it interesting for you and your followers.

Keep the “social” in social media

It can be tempting to figure out what you want to post, put it out there, and walk away. This is just part of what it means to build your brand on social media. It’s not supposed to be a one-way street.

The magic of social media is in the engagement. It presents the opportunity to be in conversation with hundreds or even thousands of potential guests. Kickstart the back and forth by running contests (be sure to review the social media platform’s rules on this) and reposting things that people post about you. When people leave questions and comments, respond to them as much as possible.

Treat members of your online community with the same hospitality you offer to guests in your restaurants and you’re more likely to see them in real life, too.

Give followers a VIP pass

There’s nothing restaurant lovers relish more than a peek into their favorite kitchen. Take them behind the scenes with social media tools like Snapchat, Instagram Stories, TikTok, or Facebook reels.

Share short clips of chefs cooking or talking about a new dish. Let managers share tips about getting the best tables or give previews of upcoming events. It’s all about making people feel like they’re getting exclusive access to the restaurant’s inner sanctum.

Dig into the data

When you make it easy for people to make reservations right on social media platforms with a “book now” button, you’ll have a new stream of data and insights about your guests and potential guests to learn what’s working. Tracking and analytics will let you understand how well your digital marketing is working. You’ll find out what kind of content makes the most people use that “book now” button to reserve a table. And if you use paid advertising, you’ll get a strong sense of how to get the biggest bang for buck.

It’s not necessary to master every social media platform and feature out there to connect with an audience and bring them in the door. Keep it simple, have fun, stay authentic, and most of all make it easy for guests to follow their social-media induced cravings.

 

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