The following was published by Restaurant Manager.
In today’s digital society, social media has become the foundation of many restaurant marketing strategies. More and more people rely on social media when it comes to finding a place to dine. With local searches and reviews in the palm of their hand, most customers will choose restaurants they can find online and ones that have positive reviews.
Research shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. That’s why it is your responsibility as a restaurant owner to keep up with the latest social media marketing trends to stay competitive.
Let’s take a more in-depth look into the benefits of social media marketing for restaurants and what it can do for your business.
Promotes Brand Awareness
Promoting brand awareness is vital for any restaurant. Creating a buzz around your brand can generate more sales and better brand awareness. In doing this, your business becomes a hot topic among the community and sets your restaurant apart from nearby competitors.
Creating brand awareness with your restaurant allows you to become a significant factor in people’s decision-making process when it comes to choosing restaurants.
There are numerous ways social media can aid in promoting brand awareness for your restaurant. Here are a few to keep in mind.
⇨Facilitates Engagement: By producing great content, your audience will naturally, or organically engage with it. Interacting with customers gives your business a chance to get to know its audience on a more personal level.
Always think of these three fundamental categories when creating content: know, like, and trust. If your daily content doesn’t fit into at least one of these categories, then you need to reevaluate the content you are putting out. Here is a detailed look into these different categories.
Know: Does your content allow your audience to get to know you? Your content should be able to give your audience an idea of who you are and what you stand for. A great example of this would be sharing the story of how your restaurant got started.
Like: Does your content show something to make your audience “like” you? A great example of this would be a restaurant posting delicious photographs of new menu items. An image can influence your audience to like your brand because you’re providing them with rich food imagery.
Trust: Does your content show your audience that they can trust you as a reputable brand? Showing them that you care about the same things they do helps facilitate trust. An example of this is showing support towards a specific cause.
⇨Content Promotion: Many brands prefer to use social media to distribute all of their content. It’s a great way to cross-promote all of your restaurant’s information that you want your audience to see. You can include platforms such as a Youtube channel, content from other social channels, or any other relevant pieces of information. By doing this, you are creating content to bring more attention to your brand.
By cross-promoting all of your content, you are driving even more traffic to your social channels and web properties.
⇨ Shareable Content: Shareable content goes hand in hand with engagement. Creating great content will naturally get more shares and engagement than content that doesn’t offer the reader any value. Creating shareable content allows you to connect with your audience as well as extending your brand’s reach. You’re creating an environment that facilitates audience engagement and interaction. The more eyes that see your content, the more free publicity the business receives.
Builds Credibility with Industry Authority
Becoming an industry expert or authority can be achieved much easier with the help of social media. Social media gives you a platform and voice to build that expertise with your audience. Establishing an online presence helps people trust your brand, and it also lets them know that your business is an active competitor within the industry.
Here are some great ways to become an authority figure on social media.
⇨ Having a clean and professional profile: First impressions are everything. Having a professional-looking profile allows people to trust and respect you as well as giving you more credibility in your field of expertise. Clear photographs, color theme, and professional captions all aid in creating a fluid, professional profile.
⇨ Building Connections: Building connections with your audience is one of the most important things you should focus on when trying to become an authority figure in your field. Sometimes this can be the determining factor whether someone is willing to listen to what you have to say or will ignore your message.
There are many ways you can build connections in the digital world, but the main things that you want to focus on are relevancy, accuracy, and consistency. You always want your content to be relevant to your audience, your information to be accurate, and the content you release should be consistent.
⇨ Stay true to yourself: When trying to become an authority in your field, always stay consistent and authentic to what your brand represents. People resonate with genuine, unique brands when it comes to social media.
So many times, you see business owners posting content that doesn’t align with their core brand values or beliefs. This discrepancy can create a notable problem because it can be very confusing to your audience.
A great example of this would be Sweetgreen. From the beginning, Sweetgreen has always stood by sustainability and cultivating authentic food. You can see their mission throughout all of the things they promote and support.
Creates Customer Trust and Loyalty
Social media is all about telling a story about your brand. Within this story, your audience will generate a sense of trust and loyalty towards you and your business. However, using storytelling to create customer trust and loyalty isn’t easy. Here are some ways you can do just that.
⇨ Providing an inside look into your company: Giving your audience a backstage pass to your business is an excellent way for them to get to know you better. By doing this, you aren’t trying to sell to them, but instead sharing a piece of information that gives them insight into who you are and what your business represents.
For example, you and your restaurant staff participate in a walk to cure cancer, and you post about it on your social media channels. By sharing this special event with your audience, you are showing them your business is a supporter of special causes. Allowing your audience to get a better visual of who you are and what’s important to you in your business facilitates customer trust and loyalty.
⇨ Promote user-generated content: Gone are the days that people go to a cool restaurant without sharing it on their social media profile for all their friends to see. That is why any business needs to encourage user-generated content from their audience. In fact, according to AdWeek, 85 percent of users surveyed find visual user-generated content more influential than brand photos or videos.
What started as food-enthusiasts on Instagram taking photographs of their food at various restaurants has now been speculated to be one of the most popular types of user-generated content.
According to ShortStack, restaurant related tags are the 55th most used hashtag on Instagram. Using this type of content is a great way to gain customer trust because it shows your audience how other people view your restaurant. According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92 percent of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising.
One company that excels in converting user-generated content is Starbucks. Take a look at the #RedCupContest campaign they do every year. This campaign is a great way to get user-generated content for your accounts because it is incentivizing fans to participate and engage online by offering a prize. Starbucks is getting loads of free content and advertisement, and they’re generating more sales because the contest is influencing people to buy coffee to take the picture.
⇨ Interacting with your Audience: Having a one-on-one relationship with your audience is one of the most important things you can do with your social media account. The fact is, people, go on social media to socialize and engage with other like-minded individuals, so why wouldn’t you want to engage with your audience?
You cannot expect your audience to trust you if you are non-responsive or don’t make efforts to engage with your followers. As a business owner, you always want to make sure you’re building a community behind your brand. This community can serve as “social proof” for your business, or, in other words, an indicator of trustworthiness.
Allowing your audience to see the large community that supports your brand can be a powerful thing. Audience interaction acts as an indicator that you’re committed to building your presence, and customers will be able to get in touch with you if they have a question, concern, or complaint.
Benefits of social media marketing for restaurants is not only good business, but a digital extension of your brick-and-mortar location. Never miss out on the opportunities that social media can bring to your business.