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Social Media 101 for Restaurants

Part 5: Use Pinterest to create a visual summary of your brand

It’s hard to believe that Pinterest is already nearing its fourth anniversary, but as visual media continues to grow in importance, it has evolved and maintained its relevancy as one of the top social media networks. Pinterest now has 70 million users. If women between the ages of 20 and 45 help make up your key demographic, take notice: 80 percent of all Pinterest users are women. And with a solid 20 percent of total social referrals to commerce sites coming from Pinterest, joining and participating in this online community may make a whole lot of sense for your restaurant.

In this fifth installment of our Social Media 101 series, let’s discuss how restaurants can benefit from Pinterest—as a tool for their own internal planning in addition to promotions and customer outreach.

How to Get Started

Once you see how Pinterest can align with your overall marketing strategy, you’ll need to set up a Pinterest for business account. Upload your restaurant logo as a profile picture, verify your restaurant’s URL, and link your profile to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Use your restaurant name as the username, and write a short but unique description. Set some initial goals, and decide how you’ll evaluate your effectiveness, whether it’s by using Pinterest analytics, engagement statistics, or customer feedback. Before you get started, strategize a content plan that will resonate with your customers—and show off who you are as a restaurant. (Keep reading for tips.)

Even if you can’t allocate the resources to manage a Pinterest page for your restaurant, however, you should consider adding the “Pin It” button to your website’s online menu listings, blog articles, and photo gallery. That way, visitors to your site can easily “pin” your images to their personal boards on Pinterest—with a direct link back to your website. Social media is at the pinnacle of word-of-mouth marketing, after all.

Using Pinterest as a Management Planning Tool

Pinterest is popular because it’s helpful. Users organize their interests in a quick, visual way. What many marketers forget is that online media isn’t always just about promoting—it can be very valuable in planning, too. If you assign multiple pinners to each board, your entire team can share ideas, bookmark products, and make recommendations amongst themselves. By pinning restaurant design ideas, marketing tips, equipment how-tos, staff training videos, or menu suggestions, everything your team finds on the web can be saved and organized—and it's all collected in the same place. Pinterest also makes it easy to choose whether your individual boards go public or stay private ("secret” in the Pinterest lingo). Community feedback may guide you to make the right choices in each case for your target market. These boards can be quite useful, especially if you’re working on a new project or opening a new location.

Using Pinterest to Visually Brand Your Restaurant

So how do you communicate visually with your community? Each pin board you create should deal with a specific topic. Keep the board name simple (one-word category titles are easiest to understand, but figure out which words will best reflect your brand). First, ask “What inspires me?” Next, ask “What’s important to my customers?” Then pin away! Here are some great topics for restaurants:

  1. Food. Check out Jane Wang’s Delicious with 6.9 million followers for proof that food is “pinteresting.” Create boards that mimic your restaurant menu’s categories, such as “Appetizers,” “Pizza,” “Pasta,” “Burgers,” “Seafood,” “Cocktails,” or “Desserts.” You can pin your menu items from your website, plus include web-discovered (or your chef’s own) recipes in those categories. Or create a separate board: “Recipes.”
    EXAMPLE: Restaurant Zest in the United Kingdom categorizes recipes by what’s in season each month, like these recipes for January.

  2. Places. If you’re a chain, you should have a “Locations” board, using Pinterest’s new map feature. If you just have one location, launch a “My City Name” (e.g. “My Pittsburgh”) board to make recommendations of things to do and places to go in your city. Sell wine and beer? Recognize where you source from and give a nod to your vendors.
    EXAMPLE: Felice Ristorante & Wine Bar puts their four NYC locations on the map.

  3. Photos. Show off your great spaces (dining rooms, banquet rooms, kitchen, and patio). With permission, post your happy staff members and customers. Share photos depicting the fun to be had at your events. Show off your age with a board dedicated to historical photos of your restaurant through the decades.
    EXAMPLE: The Firehouse Restaurant in Old Sacramento, California catalogs their front-of-house spaces.

  4. Merchandise. Sell your logo-ed swag, but also recommend any product you think your customers would enjoy.
    EXAMPLE: Yves’ Restaurant & Wine Bar in Anaheim, California showcases a few of their chef’s gadgets.

  5. Videos. Launch a video series of chef tips or create a customer testimonial board. Share all of your restaurant’s YouTube videos on Pinterest, too.
    EXAMPLE: SUSHISAMBA Restaurant Group has a collection of how-tos.

  6. Charity. Dedicating a board to the charity your restaurant supports will help build a positive reputation for your restaurant.
    EXAMPLE: Maggiano’s Little Italy has a board called “Eat-A-Dish for Make-A-Wish.”

  7. Influences. Sushi restaurant? Create a “Japan” board. Sell crepes and fondue? Try boards related to “Paris” or the French way of life.
    EXAMPLE: Sorellina Restaurant in Boston features an “Italian Fall” board.

  8. Emotion. Inspirational quotes, jokes, adorable images, or anything else that elicits an emotional reaction—these are often re-pinned.
    EXAMPLE: Lorenzo’s Italian Kitchen in DeSoto, Missouri shares restaurant humor.

  9. Press. Wouldn’t it be awesome to direct local media to an online visual press kit? Pinterest makes it possible! Pin your news releases, media coverage, logos, branded images, and company announcements to a “Press” board.
    EXAMPLE: Open Sesame in Long Beach, California has a board called “In the Press.

  10. Brand. Create boards that support what your brand stands for. For example, if you book live entertainment, create a “Music” board. Sports bars should dedicate boards to their favorite sports or local teams. Health-geared restaurants should have boards on “Health,” “Fitness,” or “Vegan.” Family-friendly restaurants may create boards that moms will appreciate, such as “Toddler Activities” or “Back-to-School.” Cater a lot of business lunches? Try “Business Travel Tips” or “Office Comedy.” Think about your customers and make boards that will speak to them.
    EXAMPLE: Features Sports Bar & Grill in West Salem, Wisconsin has a board to promote “Bowling.”

A Few Final Pointers

As you embrace Pinterest for your restaurant, remember to:

  1. Be social: Re-pin, comment, like, and invite others to post to your boards. Address a specific pinner with “@username” in comments or send pins to fellow pinners via email. Pinterest takes after Twitter with its recognition of the #hashtag search function, so you can link your pin to similar pins across the site.

  2. Don’t be self-centered: Practice the 80/20 rule, where 80 percent of your pins contain helpful information, and at most, 20 percent of your pins self-promote.

  3. Pin slowly: Part of your content strategy should be to determine when you’ll post. Don’t post all the pins from your website at once; spread it out to show up in followers’ streams at various times over the course of the year.

  4. Optimize for search engines: Use keywords wisely to ensure your pins (and your website) are being found easily in online searches.

  5. Who’s who: Get permission before posting pictures of staff or customers (less than 20 percent of pins contain any face at all).

  6. Stay on top of changes in the platform: The Pinterest blog is a good place to start.

  7. Get creative: Design infographics or memes about your brand for pinning, host a pin-it-to-win-it contest (ask people to pin their favorite menu items from your website to boards they invite you to in order to enter a drawing to win a dinner for two), or develop a best recipe contest (a version of the winning recipe could be featured on your menu for a limited time).

  8. Recruit your webmaster: Ask your webmaster to add meta tags to your site on pages that talk about recipes, products, list your locations, or share blog articles to take advantage of rich pins.

  9. Promote your pins: Link to your Pinterest page from your website, other social media channels, and articles on your blog. Consider installing a Pinterest app to your Facebook page.

  10. Have fun! In the end, social media is nothing more than being a good friend. What’s more fun than that?

Select Sources:

Digital Marketing Ramblings, November 2013 Statistics:

Pinterest for Business:

The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.