Many restaurant owners may wonder how they can monetize their presence on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. If you feel you don’t have the time or resources to get involved with social networking sites, then you’re missing out on free, valuable tools that can help you reach local (and vocal) prospects and expand awareness about your business.
Where do you begin? Everyone needs a plan. Here’s what you should consider:
Build Your Buzz!
The crowds may not flood into your restaurant immediately after posting a status update on one of the popular social networking sites, but with frequent, consistent updates that include links and appealing photos, you’re sure to gain momentum. Think of it as a ball of dough that’s used to make pizza. It takes time and care to knead the dough, but if done properly and with the right ingredients and skill, you’re sure to have a great-tasting pizza in the end. Social networking is the same. Although it may not happen overnight, it needs to be cultivated over time, just like traditional face-to-face networking.
Keep your updates fun. A simple, conversational style makes your messages powerful. People will think they know you before they dine with you. Examples of buzz-building topics to post include:
- You carry a local coffee or dish that’s popular in the community. This is a great way to establish your connection to the community.
- Your daily specials. Build their appetites in real time.
- You just expanded your hours, or you’re now serving lunch, as well as dinner.
- You’re running a special promotion to help a local charity. People LOVE to help out. Make sure they know that you’re supporting groups that are important to you, because that may instantly connect you with someone who’s also supporting a particular cause.
Get the Word Out
You may think that people know your restaurant, given its location, signage, or the amount of local advertising you do, but how much do they really KNOW about you? Social networking allows you to communicate to (and with) your prospective customers about what makes your restaurant unique and why they would want to dine with you. Use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to communicate details that you can’t using traditional advertising outlets. Social sites also make it easy for people to share information and spread the word.
Keep your posts customer focused. There’s a fine line between sharing information and being overly promotional. Stick to posting things that you know will bring someone into your establishment, such as:
- Tempting descriptions of top-selling menu items (e.g., “We have a hard time keeping our oven-fresh apple turnovers in stock.”).
- New menu items. Adding a new wine? Make sure you announce it. It may be the very reason that someone comes in for dinner.
- Special events. Posting early with frequent, detail-rich updates will help ensure that you have a good turnout.
Make it easy for people to find your restaurant(s), drool over your latest special, and share time with friends. Utilize your social networking pages to build your network. By adding people to your list of fans and followers, you help to extend your restaurant experience to a larger audience.