If the words “marketing strategy” make you break out in a cold sweat, you’ve come to the right place. We’re not a marketing agency, but we do know a thing or two about how to build a successful marketing strategy for your restaurant without breaking the bank.
It starts with the tools you use. Marketing involves using a blend of printed and digital materials to communicate your brand and encourage customers to visit your restaurant. Printed materials and new websites, while important, can be expensive. If you don’t have the budget for these items, that doesn’t mean you should give up on marketing. In fact, you can reach many customers for little or no cost by marketing your restaurant on social media.
Keep reading for our ten tips on how to market your restaurant on social media.
1. Create Profiles for Your Restaurant
The first step to social media marketing success for your restaurant is to create profiles. You’ll want to make sure that you create them on the platforms your customers are most likely to use. Two commonly used platforms that will give you a great start are Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to include key information about your restaurant in your profile, including:
• Your business hours
• Address and phone number
• Links to menus
• A link to your website
2. Capture and Post High-Quality Photos
Your customers want to know that they can expect a top-notch meal at your restaurant. What better way to reassure them than to show them exactly what to expect? Especially if you’re using Instagram, be sure to take high-quality photos often and post them with a fun caption encouraging customers to visit your restaurant and taste it for themselves! Click here for some examples to inspire you.
Now there's a burger! Good Company, a scratch kitchen and sports bar here in Cleveland, posts photos like these to promote their $2 burger nights.
3. Engage with Your Community
Social media is first and foremost a communication tool, and good communication goes both ways. So, don’t just post every week and hope someone shows up at your door. Spend time engaging with your followers, other local restaurants, and businesses in your area. Your customers will respect you for respecting their community. Plus, it’s fun to connect!
One of our local Cleveland breweries, Saucy Brew Works, is currently supporting our community by providing meals to medical professionals at Cleveland Clinic.
4. Offer Contests and Rewards for Following Your Restaurant
One way to keep your followers engaged is through contests and other incentives. People love free stuff, discounts, rewards, and coupons – pretty much anything that will save them money or make them feel special. So, think about adding some creative contests to your social media pages. One example could be to ask your followers to name four ingredients in a common dish at your restaurant. Reward the winner or winners with a coupon for free dessert or $10 off their next meal. Even simple deals like this can go a long way for marketing your restaurant business!
Barrio is a popular taco restaurant in Cleveland, with additional locations in New England and Michigan. Here's an example of a raffle they held recently, encouraging followers to come in for their tacos and tequila to grab their raffle ticket.
5. Use Hashtags
Hashtags are especially popular on Twitter and Instagram, but can be used on pretty much any social media platform. They are used to categorize different posts, and can help you reach more customers. For example, if you run a pizza shop in Cleveland, you might want to try using the hashtag “#CLEpizza” to help new customers find you. We recommend creating a list of hashtags you would like to use frequently, and sprinkle a few of them in to each post.
6. Share Customer-Generated Content
Your customers create some of the best marketing content. When a customer posts praise for your homemade chicken noodle soup on social media, you need to capitalize on that. Share their post with a thank you, and others will see that not only is your food fantastic, but so are you!
A Cleveland favorite, Brewnuts, does an outstanding job posting customer-generated content to their Instagram story. Check them out!
7. Show Behind-the-Scenes Footage
Everyone likes a quick peek behind the scenes. Many people pay good money for backstage tours at concerts and theatrical performances. So, why not give your loyal followers a behind-the-scenes look at your kitchen? Show them where their food is prepared and the smiling faces of the chefs that prepare it. Posting a high-quality, short video like this solves some of the mystery of the kitchen for your customers. Plus, if done right, it can help reassure newcomers who may be extra cautious about cleanliness that your restaurant is safe and clean.
Restore, a Cleveland area super food and health bar, shared this behind-the-scenes peek of construction on their new location to get followers engaged and excited!
8. Reply to Comments, Questions, and Reviews
An important part of maintaining your social media presence and a positive image for your restaurant is your response to comments, questions, and reviews. Be sure to respond to each one of these in a timely manner, even the negative ones. It’s important to do this so an unhappy customer feels heard and your other customers see that you truly care about each person’s experience at your restaurant.
9. Introduce Your Team
People are most loyal to the places and people that are familiar to them. So, create a sense of familiarity by introducing your team on social media. Feature one team member per month or week, depending on how many employees you have. Share a bit about what they do at work and outside of work, along with a photo. Make sure you encourage all your employees to share the post to their social feeds as well. This gives the featured employee an extra pat on the back and can help your post reach more people.
Here's an example of a coffee shop in the Greater Cleveland area, Akron Coffee Roasters, featuring their team on Instagram.
10. Spotlight Your Vendors
Show your followers where your ingredients come from! Especially if you are using locally-sourced ingredients, give your vendors a shout out on your social media pages. This gives you a chance to promote the fact that your restaurant uses ingredients from nearby farms while also sending traffic to your vendors’ social pages or website.
Pavs Creamery showcased their local partners with this collage of logos. Check out their Instagram page for drool-worthy ice cream photos!
Paying close attention to your social media pages is one of the most effective and free ways to market your restaurant. If you need a little inspiration to help you get started, check out these examples of restaurants with a stellar social media presence.
We hope you find these ten tips helpful as you continue to grow your business by offering the best dining experience possible. For more marketing tips, click here!