The Benefits of Social Media for Restaurants
It’s no secret that social media seems to rule every aspect of our lives these days. Just take a look at the person nearby you next time you’re waiting in line at a coffee shop, or sitting on BART, they’ve probably looking down at their phone at some app, or social media outlet; and this isn’t just the young people, nearly everyone does this in some way or another. Yet, this is not always a negative thing, nor should it be viewed that way. Social Media has a way of connecting people, and even brands and businesses in ways that were never possible before. One industry that has benefitted immensely, and still does so, is the Restaurant Industry.
To run a successful restaurant, particularly in the Bay Area, where people are constantly connected to their favorite social media outlets and apps, as we are a very tech-savvy place, your restaurant also needs to be connected to these outlets to reach as many people as possible. You simply cannot get by just with taking out a print ad in a local newspaper or magazine. While those are also good things to do, especially if you want to be nominated for any of their awards, it is not enough, as you are limiting yourself to people who actually read this magazine and subscribe to it, or the odd chance that someone in a hair salon might pick it up while their waiting and find out about your restaurant that way. Social Media is key for solidifying your name, and your brand into the consumer’s minds, so come time to dine, or plan a birthday party or office function, they choose your restaurant.
The easiest way, is to create a facebook page for your restaurant. This is different than a personal page, so you won’t get solicitations from your Great-Aunt asking you to play Farmville, but people can leave comments on your posts and pictures, all of which you upload. People can also rate your restaurant and write comments and reviews, which if highly rated, might help attract new customers. As would having many “likes” on your page and photos. Having a page is the first step, but updating it regularly is the second. Ideally, you’d post your daily specials to bring people in, and take good-quality photos of your classic dishes. It is also a great outlet for any special events or promotions your restaurant decides to have, as you can create an event page on facebook and invite all those who “like” your restaurant to said events since they have expressed brand loyalty. People will also be able to check in, or tag your restaurant in their picture, of maybe say, them with friends eating at your restaurant. This makes the particular person look good to their friend base, and if their friends on facebook see how cool and tasty your place looks, they may also be inspired to give it a try. This is basically free advertising! And unless you pay to promote your facebook page, simply running a facebook page, or even twitter and instagram, are free of cost as well!
In terms of ratings for consumers, it is also important that you not only have a Yelp page, although it is not commonly thought of as social media, it is still a public forum. As the owner of a fine eating establishment, you should take the time to respond to negative and positive comments that stand out to you. This makes people feel like their concerns are being heard, and may opt to give you a second chance, or if they wrote you a glowing review, graciously thank them, and it is more than likely that they will keep coming back! Both of these actions help establish a relationship with customers, and make them feel personally connected to your business. In terms of SEO, second and third to the restaurant website (which should be the first thing they see when someone inputs your restaurant name into a search engine) Yelp and your Facebook Page should be close to the top, and you certainly must be on Google Plus, since that is another easy way to get reviews, and helps in terms of people finding your restaurant easily. If you go to Google’s website, you can find easy instructions on how to get your business on Google Maps.
Another great way to showcase your restaurant’s food, decor, and atmosphere is through Instagram. This is also a great way of capturing dishes and cocktails that may be appealing to the customers eye. Be sure to use hashtags to attract more followers, and get more likes, even if they are just from random people, the more likes you have, the more popular you seem and that alone can even bring people in. Just like facebook, people can add a location to their Instagram posts, and will probably do so if they choose to Instagram their dish from your restaurant. In fact, food is probably the most common thing people post on Instagram. So for that reason alone, you should be connected on Instagram, as a Restaurant. Again, free advertising. Same goes for twitter, where you can tweet about new dishes, upcoming events, and post pictures. All three of these profiles, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can be linked to each other so all posts appear on the same outlets for maximizing your reach. If you “follow” some of your loyal customers back, or who tag your restaurant, or post pictures there often, they too will feel like they have a relationship with your restaurant, even if it is just on social media, and hopefully keep coming back. This way, you may even reach people outside of your area, that will keep your restaurant in mind when they travel to San Francisco and turn to social media and search engines to find good places to eat.
Let’s Examine a few Bay Area Restaurants. Some of the highest rated restaurants in San Francisco and the Bay Area, like Bar Tartine, Chez Pannise (though the Michelin Star probably helps that one out quite a bit), and the Slanted Door have nearly 10,000 or even 20,000 likes on their page! Other Bay Area favorites like Quince, Cha Cha Cha, Homeroom, The Slanted Door, and many others have about 3-5,000 likes on average. So as you can see, it is important to be connected on all social media outlets to run a successful Bay Area restaurant.
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