If you don't live under a rock, you've noticed that social media has changed the business landscape in recent years. Proprietors who don't take advantage of it — especially restaurant owners — are missing out on countless emerging avenues to market their business and reach customers.
Sure, you can open an account on Facebook and Twitter and write the occasional post, but in order to get the most out of your social media efforts, it's important to understand the many ways you can leverage them to impact your bottom line. Times have changed and you can bet your competition has changed with them. If you learn some simple skills, you can use social media to greatly improve your profits.
1. Expand your presence
To get the solid results you want from your social media outreach, investigate some trends that haven't gone mainstream yet. Facebook and Twitter can be useful, yes, but for a sensory industry like foodservice, apps like Pinterest and Instagram provide rich visuals that can be more effective in hooking potential customers. Other social media platforms like Google Plus and StumbleUpon can help expand your presence, as well.
2. Allow your customers to order through social media
Some platforms like Facebook allow people to place orders through them. If potential customers find your Facebook page and immediately see that satisfied patrons have used their smartphones to order meals in the past, they're more likely to do the same.
Social media is valuable for making contacts and reaching out to people, but you also want to project an image of community, quality, and superior service. This is a sure-fire way to increase your overall sales.
3. Offer reservations through Twitter
To streamline the reservation process for your customers, consider offering bookings through Twitter. Assign one of your staff members to monitor your Twitter account, paying even closer attention during high-volume periods. When a request comes through for a reservation, make sure it gets an immediate response as to whether or not it can be honored.
4. Provide awesome content
It's crucial to provide your readers with insightful, personal, awesome content. It doesn't have to be directly associated with your restaurant. By posting articles on ways to eat a healthier diet, how to use coupons to save on groceries, or anything else indirectly related to your business, you can be sure to gain a more loyal following. You can try posting photos of exotic dishes you may have tried on recent vacations. And a few action shots of your chefs in the kitchen are sure to whet some appetites, as well.
5. Maximize the value of videos
Posting videos on your social media pages is an excellent way to gain exposure and, as a result, see increased profits. You could film a video tour of your kitchen, highlighting your sanitation practices and ensuring a safe meal for your customers. Better yet, you could create educational videos with instructions on how to prepare certain dishes. The opportunities here are virtually endless, and you should take advantage of each and every one of them to build your customer base.
6. Improve your customer feedback via social media
Increasing your level of customer feedback is a fairly straightforward way to drive profits, and social media can be of tremendous value in that effort. Table visits are great, but there's just no way to receive feedback from each and every guest. Encourage your customers to comment about their experiences on your social media pages. This is a great way to create a buzz and to find out exactly what is (and isn't) working for your business.
Once you've established your multi-platform social media presence, make sure you monitor them on a regular basis. While positive posts are excellent for business, it's just as easy for customers to post complaints. These are only detrimental, however, if you don't address them quickly. Go the extra mile and overcompensate anyone who's had a negative experience. Show your contacts that your restaurant truly cares about its guests, and you're going to earn their trust and, eventually, their dollars.
How involved are you with social media?