With 70 percent of U.S. adults on Facebook and Instagram, skipping out on social means skipping out on seatings.

Instagram? Twitter? Facebook? Yelp? The options for engaging with guests through social media can be overwhelming. But, experts agree, you don’t have to do it all—you just have to do something. Have a social media presence in a way that works for your brand, or you’ll miss out on valuable ways to engage with existing and potential customers. Three social media pros—one consultant and two folks from inside the restaurant—share their tips for finding your best ways to engage.

Jered Miller | Digital Partner, Always Noon Digital

The restaurant industry, though innovative in many areas, has been known to be slower to adapt within the marketing and social media avenues. And it’s not so much big chain restaurants as it is neighborhood ones. These places are on the rise as new demographics and generations are becoming larger consumer groups. Neighborhood spots also have the best opportunity to succeed in the utilization of social media in their communities. Through hashtags and social ads, you can connect and grow with your neighborhood like never before. The best way to identify your strategy is to first understand that there are two successful but very different ways to utilize social media, one being organic, free, and easy for everyone to do every day: organic social media. The other is paid ads. Paid ads are how you identify customers who fit your target audience and share your brand with them directly, which can really drive new traffic and awareness in your community. Being on social is about relevance and connectivity. Many people within walking distance of your restaurant have no clue you’re there. Utilizing social media ads, particularly on Instagram and Facebook, will allow you to make sure that everyone in your neighborhood who uses those platforms—over 70 percent of U.S. adults—will have the ability to know who you are and come check you out.

Kevin Smith| Executive Chef, 41Hundred

Accessible information via social media is a part of our modern society, and being able to instantaneously reach a wide range of people creates brand recognition within the food and beverage community. Utilizing a social media platform gives an establishment the opportunity to reach a particular demographic that would be difficult to do through traditional forms of media. The best way to identify your social media strategy is by setting goals and identifying the target demographic for your restaurant’s social media needs. This will assist in guiding you down the right path towards a successful social media strategy. Being active on these platforms gives you more exposure; this translates to more customers and in return more revenue. It also allows you to keep an eye on the industry and stay on top of what is current and trending. If possible, I would recommend investing in a group or individual who specializes in social media and can help you accurately represent your establishment. Becoming acclimated and navigating through social media is the initial hurdle. Once you have that, focusing on what you post and when you post to reach your target audience is an algorithm that is key to a successful social media page.

Heather Otto | General Manager, City Winery

Considering the prevalence of social media, not being on social is a bad strategy. In 2019 most if not all people have social media accounts. Having your own restaurant accounts gives you a way to inform people of what your restaurant is doing, ask them for feedback, and engage with them outside of your property. If you can’t connect with guests on social media, you will lose their attention and possibly their business to another restaurant that will. The best way to identify your social media strategy is to try a few different things and see what resonates with your audiences. Don’t ignore analytics numbers; they are worth your attention. More than anything, figure out how to track what works, whether it’s what earns clicks, likes, or gets the most shares. At the minimum, having a social media presence is a quick way to share messaging and reach a wider audience. And don’t forget: Content is king. Good photos, good videos, and contests go a long way. What can you do that will catch people’s attention? Invest in those pieces.

Feature, Technology