The COVID-19 lockdown has left restaurants all over the world with more downtime than they imagined possible. Some restaurants have completely shuttered their businesses during the pandemic or have reduced services to carry-out orders only. Although the pandemic has affected restaurants profoundly, they can still use their downtime to promote and grow their business.
Today, just slightly more than 60% of restaurants rely on social media to promote their business and engage with customers. About three quarters of the US population uses social media. In light of the pandemic lockdown, expect these statistics to increase on both counts. Some experts have called the pandemic a ‘digital change agent.’ Social distancing and quarantines have forcibly driven both businesses and consumers online with dramatic increases.
Moreover, as medical experts warn of future coronavirus outbreaks and the possibility of future lockdowns, the need to establish a digital presence online is very nearly an absolute necessity for many businesses such as restaurants. Even before the pandemic hit, the restaurant industry commanded more Twitter mentions than any other industry, and on Facebook, three out of four users have used the platform to make restaurant decisions. As the popularity of social media marketing escalates during this pandemic, restaurants must consider using the social networks if they want to stay competitive in this topsy turvy new marketplace.
Because it’s vital for restaurants to manage these challenging times, we’ve created this guide to help them market their business on social media. Use the following tips to establish or ramp up your restaurant’s social media marketing initiatives.
If you already have a social media presence, consider revamping or fine-tuning it to include more relevant information for customers. Be sure customers know if you are open for carry out or when you expect to re-open for service. If you don’t have social media accounts, use your lockdown time to establish some on the leading networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Create profiles that effectively showcase your restaurant. Remember, these accounts act like windows into your business. Post photos of your setting (looking its best) along with images of food, menus, and special events like entertainment.
Getting your restaurant social media business pages launched is just the start. The next step is to create a plan or a full-blown social media marketing campaign to promote brand awareness and attract customers and potential customers to your social media pages and business website. Many small-scale restaurant operations may not even have a business website, so this makes the social media accounts even more vital for marketing who they are--and where they are for that matter.
As you develop a strategy and plan to market your restaurant on social media, consider your goals. If your restaurant is currently closed, it can use social media to maintain its brand recognition, to let customers know when it expects to reopen, and to inform them about what its team is doing behind the scenes. Share posts about new menu ideas or renovations you intend to make during the lockdown.
If your restaurant is still operating on a limited dine-in or carry-out basis, be sure to inform customers about hours of operation. Let them know if you’ve changed your menu or accepted forms of payment. Customers are still looking to order food, so be sure your strategy is designed to entice them to your venue.
As you create your social media plan, remember to rely on metrics and analytics to gauge how your efforts are performing. Facebook, for instance, features on-board tools designed to help you track important data that can shape your ads and marketing campaigns. What types of posts are most successful--garner the most customer engagement, likes, and shares? What posts aren’t performing as you’d expected? Analytics helps you to evaluate your marketing initiatives so you can improve them in real time.
Remember that many other restaurants are clamoring to enhance their social media presence too. In order to effectively compete with your competitors, consider offering potential customers digital coupons or special incentives when they sign up for your email mailing list, order online, or place their first order with you. Take time to learn how other restaurants showcase offers and deals on sites like Instagram to get an idea of the types of ads you can feature for your restaurant.
Online ordering is certainly something restaurants can and should promote on social media. Let potential customers know that you are accepting online orders and provide them with a direct link to your business website. If your restaurant is using various online ordering platforms or partnering with multiple food delivery apps, consider adopting Cuboh to manage them all from one convenient dashboard.
If your restaurant marketing plans are already humming along, consider scaling up your efforts to expand your reach and attract more business to your restaurant. Invest more heavily in social media ads, for example. Consider working with an influencer or micro-influencer to help you spread the word about your restaurant and its offerings. Ramp up customer engagement by using social media to drive more traffic to your business blog where you can cover topics more deeply or connect with customers about subject matter that’s near and dear to their hearts--like how to dine safely in restaurants as the quarantine subsides or recipes they can try at home.
Social media marketing is all about connecting and putting your restaurant’s best digital face forward. Through layout, color, and information sharing, you can design social media restaurant pages that effectively promote who you are and why diners should order from you.