Why should restaurants use social media?

Why should your restaurant take social media marketing seriously and what can it do for you?  There’s an undeniable amount of confusion when asking restaurant owners, small business owners, and even some marketers that question.  It’s unacceptable for where we are today and what we know about the power of social media marketing for restaurants to be left speechless by that question.

The most common reaction from business/restaurant owners when faced with that question is, “We know we need social media marketing, but we’re not sure why.”  That’s not a very good answer, but that’s what happens when education surrounding social media is lacking.

When Jason Falls wrote an awesome book called “No Bullshit Social Media“, he outlined the 7 Business Drivers of Social Media.  Using Jason’s outline, I’ll customize it for restaurants and explain the 7 areas you can gain value from an effective social media marketing strategy.

7 Business Drivers of Social Media for Restaurants

1. Enhance Branding & Restaurant Awareness: Whether you just opened up your doors or your restaurant has been a local favorite for 30 years, you’ll reach more customers with a well thought out social media marketing strategy.

The key here is understanding that while content is important, without a local outreach and community recruitment strategy, you’re missing the boat.

2. Reputation Management: You hate Yelp, don’t you?  It’s full of phony negative reviews, probably written by competitors.  Monitoring and managing your social media channels means locating negative updates quicker and the opportunity to send your online brand advocates over to Yelp to replace the negative eyesores.

3. Extend Public Relations: Want to be on the radar for every local restaurant review magazine or blog?  Twitter provides an easy channel to communicate publicly or privately to make that happen.

4. Build a Community of Loyal Brand Ambassadors: When someone decides to “like” or “follow” your social media account, they are saying, “I like you and I want to know EVERYTHING about your restaurant.”

Reward brand ambassadors and advocates with bits of information that the average restaurant visitor won’t receive. Send them a social media coupon here and there to reward their loyalty.

5. Extend Customer Service: Something like 60% of tweets sent to businesses or about businesses are ignored. That’s because most places fail to actively monitor and search the web for mentions of their business.

Whether it’s a compliment, a complaint, or just a picture of your food, wouldn’t you feel better knowing you can locate it and respond to your customer?

6. Research and Development: Maybe your new menu isn’t doing so hot.  Poll your online audience and find out what’s wrong and what they want.  Thinking of adding a fancy grilled cheese to your lunch specials?  Ask the audience if it’s something they’d try out.  You’ll be surprised with how quick the community wants to help.

7. Drive Sales: When all of the above are done correctly, each should fill seats and get plates on tables.

Measuring ROI Means Knowing What’s Most Important To Your Restaurant

What’s very clear is the fact that social media marketing doesn’t make sense for you if it doesn’t drive customers to come to your restaurant.

That part is mega clear.

The fuzzy part for many is understanding how valuable the other 6 business drivers are.

Take #2, Reputation Management, for example.  How valuable is a positive Yelp presence for you?  How about #5, Extending Customer Service?  A stone-cold fact is that managing and monitoring  your social media channels will lead to saving relationships with customers who leave your restaurant angry.  Is your restaurant failing to truly grasp the needs of your customers?  Maybe #6, Research and Development, should rank high on your list.

What every restaurant owner needs to do before committing to a social media for restaurants strategy is rank the 7 business drivers.  Driving Sales will always be #1, but to feel complete confidence and power in social media, the other 6 need to be considered extremely important… because they are.