Bernadine Racoma, Content Manager at WorkSmartr.com, examines how restaurant companies can leverage the power of social media.

An accomplished restaurateur will put effort and resources into building a solid social media presence for the brand. Guests are online and most likely will be talking about your food and service. It is impossible these days for a restaurant to have no reviews on Qype or TripAdvisor. Guests have scoured your Facebook profile or posted a picture of a hearty dish from your restaurant with a trendy hashtag. There are currently over a billion users on every social media platform, and it makes no sense for restaurateurs not to optimize this option. It’s a low hanging fruit for brand awareness that your brand is part of every conversation. A solid online presence and massive social media fan base guarantee the following benefits.

  • Effective traffic generator. The online shop or restaurant website would be at the top of the search engine pages due to good reviews and customer voices.
  • Loyal allegiance. You will then count them among your regular guests.
  • Free advertising. Post promotions or delicious dishes to whet the guests’ appetites. They are always in your mind, especially when subtitles and hashtags are well curated.
  • A platform to collect complaints from guests and answer questions. This will help improve your service.
  • Social media engagement. Incorporate marketing strategies into postings to encourage guest engagement.

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Here are five social media strategies you can use to increase restaurant brand awareness and follow-up.

Upload delicious photos
The food alongside the service is your lure for the guests to be loyal guests. Put together a feed that encourages customers to eat. Share as many food photos as you can and plan them strategically. Most marketers share them in the morning or before dinner to get guests to come on those parts of the day.

Never limit your posts to food shots. Discover posting photos of the staff, the chef, or the entire service. Share a restaurant trip on social media by documenting the arrival, processing, and serving of fresh produce as a salad. That way, there will be engagement from guests as they peek into the prep process. Use social media to promote your restaurant using management tools that make all channels accessible.

Offer followers exclusive promotions
Guests want to feel involved and part of your restaurant family. Make your loyalists feel important by posting discounts and freebies exclusively for them. Pamper your guests so that other guests can join the train. A simple token like a free appetizer or free dinner is a small amount compared to the benefits it can bring to your guests.

Hire
Balance advertisements with content related to current events, the hospitality industry, the global pandemic, and more. Respond to mentions and comments by engaging with your clientele. Avoid an automated reply and personalize your messages.

User generated content
Actively build a loyal following by encouraging them to share user-generated content. This strategy combines engagement with free advertising. In addition, your guest feels included. An effective strategy is a photo sharing contest. You can ask your followers to post a picture of their favorite food with a hashtag and a mention of your restaurant. That way, you can post this again and share it with your followers. This activity is aimed at building engagement and keeping the accounts active.

Be active on review sites
Take all feedback seriously, no matter whether it is good, bad or neutral. Guest complaints come because customers are interested in your brand and want you to improve. Respond to everyone in a timely manner and with the intention of restoring service. Treat bad reviews like customers are still at the restaurant. Listen to the complaint, apologize, resolve the problem, and thank the guest.

Most customers read reviews before eating at the restaurant. So reviews have to be answered and managed. They can make or break your brand. Being proactive about good and negative customer reviews is a great way to promote your business.

To this day, traditional word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising and sales promotion. Most people trust a recommendation more than an advertisement. Word of mouth has shifted to social media online. The success and longevity of your restaurant brand depend on the social media strategy you use and the engagement of your guests.