Getting Your Restaurant Started with Social Media | Brand Education for Restaurants

Are you a restaurant brand not using Social Media yet to connect with your customers? Since brands are living breathing entities that require interaction and feedback you are missing the boat if you are not active in Social Media. You also happen to be missing a ton of conversations that may already be taking place about your brand from check-ins to pictures and posts.

Food is a social activity and your marketing efforts should be social as well.

What do I do first?

First, find the social networks that are right for you. Don’t try to be everywhere at first, the worst thing you can do is get started and then walk away from the medium. The best part of social media is learning and exploring the benefits and values of controlling your own content. Until you figure it out, below are a few pointers and resources to help get you started.

Facebook – Let’s start with the biggest and baddest Social Network out there. Facebook was founded on February 4th 2004 and a mere 8 years later they have well over 845 Million users. They describe themselves as wanting to make the world a more open and connected place. The network is larger than almost every country in the world. Facebook’s mission is to help people stay connected with their friends, family, co-workers, classmates, etc. Providing members a way to discover what’s going on locally, nationally and around the world. Facebook reinvented the way we share what is going on in our lives, how we feel and what we are doing. Food is one of the many things people talk about of Facebook. Sure sounds like a great place to start a relationship with your audience. Especially since they tell you what they like and where they’ve been on Facebook.

Getting Started: Step one, claim a page for your restaurant if you haven’t already. Follow the steps outlined to get started. Don’t be shocked to see people who have already liked your brand and/or checked into your location. Whether you have a page or profile, customers are already commenting and sharing about your brand, now you have the ability to monitor and react to both positive and negative comments.

Twitter – Described as an information network, Twitter is about as real time as you can get whether you are looking for information on the latest breaking news or looking for a trending topic to talk about. Twitter posts are called tweets. At 140 characters at a time the micro blogging network continues to thrive with well over 300 million users. Twitter is a fantastic way to follow people, you do not need permission to follow like you do with Facebook or LinkedIn. You no longer have an excuse not to keep tabs on what you competitors are doing. And don’t forget to check out what your customers are saying by checking mentions. Twitter is great for driving blog readership and promote deals or specials.

Getting Started: Head to Twitter and create a handle, which will be your user name (be creative since you only get 15 characters to use). Refer to the Twitter Glossary for more explanation of the Twitterverse.  Take deep breathes because it can be like learning a foreign language. Another helpful post is this one called “Mom, this is how twitter works”. Oh, and make sure you add a picture to your profile even if you are a breakfast concept no-one wants to talk to an egg. (You’ll see what I mean when you go to Twitter).

LinkedIn – Started in 2003, LinkedIn has over 150+ Million users who engage on a professional level. A virtual networking site that has more of a professional concentration, connect with current and past co-workers, join groups based on your industry and share related topics. A good resource for finding vendors or your next executive chef. Be sure to join the restaurant association groups to learn best practices and network with fellow food industry people.

Getting Started: LinkedIn may be the easiest network to get started with, consider your profile as your living resume. Include as much or as little as you like, but remember in social media the more you share the more you will benefit. Go ahead and include a picture so that everyone knows what you look like, believe me it helps. This is social media after all, so be social.

Google+

Google+ – The latest attempt by Google to get into the Social Network arena, Google Plus has some really great features and the user numbers are rapidly climbing. Why does it pay to be on Google Plus? It is better to play with Google than against them, if you play by their rules you will be rewarded with better search results. Google Plus has some cool features like sorting “friends” into circles, which makes it easy to segment your message. Maybe you create a dinner circle or one for your wine club. As always the more relevant you can make the message the better chance to attract interest.

Getting Started: Google makes it easy to get started, in fact if you have a gmail account for the restaurant you may already have a profile and not even know it. Be consistent in how you set up your profiles, share your website, phone #, location(s) address, hours of operation, etc. Make sure you are setting up a brand page. Also, share your other networks once you establish them.

Getting Started: Signing up is easy and you can do it by using an existing Facebook or Twitter profile. However, what may be hard is getting an invite. You can request one through Pinterest, it usually takes a few days or you can request one from a friend who is already on the site. Or you can drop me a note and I will send any remaining invitations I have.

foursquare – Let foursquare tell you for themselves what they are all about. Imagine your customers being your spokes people. You can help them endorse you by sharing with their followers when they stop by once you claim your location.

Check out this cute little video to see why foursquare is great for restaurants and retail destinations.

Hi! I want to learn more about foursquare! from foursquare on Vimeo.

Getting Started: Head to foursquare and claim your location. You will have to prove that it is your restaurant. This will require you confirming either by phone or they will send you information to your location’s physical address. Confirm that the information is correct, once you establish yourself you will be able to view the profiles of people who have already checked-in and set up promotional specials and rewards for visitation. Don’t forget to take care of the Mayor.

Now that you have gotten your feet wet in social media, don’t forget to tell your customers that you are active.

  1. Post network links on your website.
  2. Promote your networks on email blasts and newsletters.
  3. Include social icons on print ads, billboards, etc.
  4. Mention your networks on Radio and TV spots.
  5. Start promoting events, specials and highlight menu selections.
  6. Tell you employees you are active and ask them to promote your social media networks off-line and on-line.

Once you are doing that, next step is to:

Is your restaurant active in Social Media? Share your network links in the comments section and show us how you are using social media to engage with your customers.

I’d love to connect with you, pick one network or choose them all.

Please make sure you say hello:

LinkedIn
Twitter
Facebook

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