For budding (or even seasoned) restaurateurs, knowing how to leverage social media, or where to start, can be daunting. Content creation, responding to comments, and managing reviews can feel like insurmountable tasks. With some basic guidance, bar and restaurant owners and marketing managers alike can make the most of their online presence and drive more customers to their establishments. Here's how.
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Optimize your Profiles
The most basic step in sprucing up your bar or restaurant's social media presence is to take a quick stock of your current profiles and ensure all info is accurate and up to date. Do you have COVID-specific info to share? Are your hours listed correctly, and is your location listed in an easy-to-find spot? It may seem remedial, but these pieces of info are often the first things a customer will be looking for, so make it easy to find, and especially make sure it is right.
Another key piece of an optimal social media profile is clean, crisp imagery. If you do not have professional-looking photos of your bar or restaurant, pictures of staff, drinks or Insta-worthy appetizers, you may want to invest in a photographer to do an onsite shoot and provide a library of images. On social media, a business has mere seconds of a customer’s attention; make sure the images you have posted are eye-catching. You may also consider having a business cell phone that employees can use to take nice photos of drinks, food, and the general atmosphere of your establishment as well.
Reviews are another vital part of a business’s social media page. Do you need more reviews? Are you receiving too many low ratings? Make sure you are addressing your reviews and have a plan in place to strengthen the quantity and quality of reviews.
Focus on Creating a Conversation, Not Promoting your Business
We are all blasted with marketing all day, every day, and this is especially true when we are on social media. Posts that are promotional in nature are almost guaranteed to get scrolled by without a second glance. Avoid blatant, in-your-face marketing that doesn’t encourage engagement with customers like discounts, coupons, new products, etc. and instead reframe your promos to boost interaction and interest.
Asking questions or polling for opinions is a great way to reframe these posts. You can also share user-generated content and tag the user to show appreciation and community engagement. You want your social media presence to portray your bar or restaurant as a community hub, and as an integral part of a neighborhood’s experience. Tune in to the conversations being had amongst locals on social media, and join those conversations in authentic ways.
Humanize Your Business by Featuring Your Bartenders & Chefs
We all crave connection, even more so after more than a year of quarantine and social distancing. Your bar or restaurant is more than a place to eat or imbibe, it is a place where relationships are formed and nurtured, and your employees are at the foundation of those interactions. Showcasing chefs, bartenders, servers, dishwashers, and other employees help put friendly faces to your business and provides that human element that makes a post stand out.
Going “live” on platforms can be a fun and interactive way to show off your staff and their skills. Record a chef plating a new special, or a bartender whipping up a signature drink, or even post a how-to video showing your audience how they can bring some of your bar or restaurant’s magic into their own home. Creating this connection will position your business as a member of the community in which it is located.
Share User-Generated Content
One of the biggest hurdles in maintaining your social media presence is content. A useful strategy for content creation is to leverage customer-created images and posts. Your guests are already trained by our society to want to share and post about your business, so tap into those posts and repost them, comment on them and tag your business, and be sure to thank your customer in the comments. Customer posts are the equivalent of a visual review, so make sure you are devoting time to finding and analyzing these posts from your customer. Creating personal hashtags can help foster a sense of community amongst your guests, and you can even incentive customers to post for a discount or repost. Ask customers to tag you in their posts, and be sure to “like” or comment on these posts when they do.
Create Picture-Worthy Cocktails & Dishes
Drool-worthy imagery is not new to the internet. “Food porn” has been a thing for the better part of the last decade, and the trend has shown us that imagery and photo-worthiness are king. Consult with your chefs and bartenders to create the kind of cocktails and dishes that make customers want to whip out their phones and brag to their followers about the menu items they are enjoying at your bar or restaurant. As we mentioned above, you’ll be able to use this content as reposts on your own channels, so dedicating some energy to adding these kinds of items to your offering will be time well spent.
Online audiences aren’t built in a day, or even a week. While you may feel your efforts are for naught when you just have a few followers, you will see those numbers grow over time if you are consistently posting quality content, addressing your reviews, and encouraging your guests to post by creating incentives and/or offering Insta-worthy drinks and food. Optimize your profiles first, and make sure you have all the key (and accurate) info about your business in an easy-to-find spot. Share content that resonates with the community instead of just blasting out promos, and make your staff the stars of your social pages. Over time, you’ll see how leveraging social media can help drive new customers to your business, and help you retain current customers.
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