As the field of social media channels becomes more crowded, it can be a challenge for brands to leverage those networks to their advantage. For restaurants seeking to squeeze more sales out of their social media efforts, presentations during this year’s National Restaurant Association Show provided some ideas.
1. Become a master of one
Rather than have a mediocre presence across every platform, operations with limited marketing resources should choose one social network and commit to executing it well, said Joshua Swanson, a marketing consultant who works with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.
Restaurants should figure out which demographic their core customers fall under and meet them on their preferred social platform, he said. Those with a large millennial audience may want to target Snapchat, while a steakhouse with a high average check, for example, would likely have better ROI on other channels such as Facebook with its larger, broader audience.
Instagram has “the best restaurant audience out there,” he said, noting the highly visual channel’s strong user engagement and ability to showcase food photos.
2. Stay away from spamming
The two most common reasons Facebook users unlike brands are because their posts are too boring or too frequent, Swanson said. Restaurants should study their social media engagement metrics to see what types of content gain traction with their customers, using that to inform future posts.
And try not to be too aggressive with it—posting more than 10 times a week can work against brands (particularly on Facebook) and cause their posts to appear in user’s feeds less often, he said.
3. Think 1:1
As people check their phones upward of 150 times a day, mobile provides opportunities for real-time local marketing, Costello said, noting that the “local” in local marketing will eventually come to mean a single person.
Restaurants should make sure they’re listening to what customers actually want, and not “the hype,” he said, pointing to the store locator in Dunkin’s app as an example of a not-so-sexy mobile feature, but one that’s highly functional and frequently used by its customers.
4. Don't forget the ‘social’ in social media
Think of social media as a way to “work with” your guests and fans, Swanson said, adding that concepts should find ways to help their audience tell their brand story.
Restaurants can “share [their] wins” by sharing a positive restaurant review with their larger social audience, in addition to fostering engagement by commenting on customers’ posts and leveraging reviews, hashtags and check-ins to find new fans and followers, Swanson said.
Social media should also be used to surprise and delight guests in real time, he said. Concepts can have an employee monitor the restaurant’s social accounts and use check-ins to identify guests currently in the dining room, whom the restaurant can then surprise with something special, such as a comped dessert.
A bonus: If those customers are active social media users, they’re likely to share the experience online.