Develop a social media strategy
Like most things, your social media will be more successful if you don’t just start out willy-nilly posting anything and everything that comes to mind. Coming up with a strategy will help you be consistent and help you to understand what’s working and what’s not.
When defining your social media strategy, the S.M.A.R.T. framework is an effective way of setting goals. This framework means each objective is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Here’s a more in-depth guide on creating a social media strategy.
Social media is an investment in time and money. Having a strategy is key for calculating ROI. It also needs to be part of your overall marketing strategy so that all of the components are working together for a common goal.
If only we could have two number ones, because this one is important. Your social media strategy has to be consistent. It has to be consistent with your brand, first of all. But also posting regularly and monitored consistently. Have we mentioned ‘consistently’ enough. Probably not.
Consistent with your band means many things. The content tone and voice has to reflect your restaurant brand. If you are a fine dining restaurant you probably don’t want to post videos of back-of-house hijinks after service.
Polpetta is all over the place with their profiles. There are very few visual cues tying them together.
You showed up, and made an account. Good job, but you’re not done yet: your social media profiles should never be an after-thought. They’re extremely powerful opportunities to strengthen your brand and communicate who you are, so it’s essential that you give your profiles the attention they deserve.
Papa Murphy’s Pizza has a consistent logo badge accross all accounts and similar style photos in the headers of the Facebook and Twitter profiles giving strong visual clues to tie the profiles together.
All of your various profiles need to be filled out completely and include the same information and same branding. Too often, restaurants use different variations of logos and descriptions depending on the platform. You want people to instantly recognize your page and consistent branding will reinforce it.
Use the platform your ideal customers are on
This one seems obvious, but many businesses gravitate towards what’s popular overall and the latest ‘it’ social media platform. It makes a certain amount of sense. But the real key is to go where your ideal customers are.
Even though SnapChat is hugely popular, it doesn’t make sense for a classic French restaurant to make it their priority given the fact that SnapChat users are mostly comprised of the under 20 demographic.
Every one of your customer-facing employees can be an informal pollster. It’s an easy conversation to have. Most people are looking at their phones at some point while in your restaurant (for better or worse). That’s a perfect opportunity to ask if that person uses social media and which ones they prefer.
You can have as many different social media accounts as you feel you can consistently handle. But make sure you spend most of your time where your customers are.
Find the right person to handle your social media
Unless your hostess is working her way through accounting school, you’re probably not going to be having her do your books. So why do so many restaurants hand off their social media to any millennial employee with a phone?
I get it, relatively few restaurants can hire a dedicated marketing person, let alone a dedicated social media person. Employees need to wear many hats. But, you can still find the best one or two employees for the job and give them some extra time when they aren’t doing their regular job to handle some social media.
This is where having a clearly defined strategy and voice comes in. Even if you have a few people pitching in with social media, the posts will stay consistent with your brand. It is a good idea to have one person in charge of managing your social media even if you have several people pitching in.
Engage and get conversations going
The mistake many businesses make is thinking of their social media accounts as just another way to advertise to followers. Those who are thinking of social media as just another way to broadcast are missing out on a great opportunity to engage and connect with customers.
Respond to every comment in a nice and welcoming way. Yup, even the bad ones. Be nice! The main reason to respond to criticism is not to change the critic’s mind, it’s for the other people reading the response. Even if you don’t feel like you were wrong, the only way to win is to be nice. How you handle conflict is also part of your overall brand.
Create a hashtag for your restaurant and encourage customers to post photos using your hashtag. Then you can repost their images to your account, tagging the original poster and thanking them for posting.
This is your opportunity to create strong relationships with your customers and put yourself at the forefront of their minds. As their followers witness this engagement, they’re more likely to pop over and follow you too, further building your audience.
Turn positive reviews into posts
As humans, we are evolutionarily primed to maximize the bad and minimize the good. A bad review on Yelp can ruin your week while a good review gives you that dopamine hit for a hot second. I call BS. Let’s turn that around.
Very few things are more powerful than social proof. Studies show that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (crazy, I know). Over 70% of those surveyed said positive reviews inspired trust in the reviewed business.
Capitalize on human psychology by turning those stellar reviews into posts and spread them around. Create a graphic with the stars and the review (or excerpt, movie poster style), if possible tag the reviewer, and, of course, thank the reviewer for the great review.
Not only will it offer social proof to your existing followers, it will also help to attract new followers. If you make a graphic and make a big deal of the reviewer, chances are excellent they will share your post with their network giving your post a greater reach.
Just like social proof is an evolutionary response, so is motion. In our ‘lizard brain’ something moving toward us might be a predator and something running away might be food.
Even though we’ve (mostly) moved past the predator/prey dynamic, we are still drawn more towards motion video than still photos. 80% of people surveyed liked viewing video the best (as anyone who has gone down the YouTube recommended video rabbit hole and lost hours can attest).
These days, almost everyone has an HD video camera in their pocket. It doesn’t take much to make a basic video to post on your social media. The key is having plenty of light. It’s inexpensive to get a couple of clip-on lights from the hardware store to add some extra light to a dim kitchen.
In addition to Instagram videos, Facebook Live has been very successful for many brands. As restaurants, we have an opportunity to show people what’s happening behind the scenes which people love. Who doesn’t get excited when they see the words ’All Access Pass’?
More on the way…
Over the next few posts, we will focus on the ins and outs of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and possibly others. We’ll give you some ideas on how to create engagement and how to use each platform to its maximum potential.
What is your most effective tip for social media? Let us know in the comments.