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Word of mouth is king. Marketing and promotion may have a drastic impact on an opening, but bad experiences by vocal patrons can lead to significant drop offs in the following days. This applies to many industries. Whether it is a movie or a contractor, word of mouth gives potential customers a real world opinion from those who have actually experienced it. In the world of social media, word of mouth has become global and therefore can make or break a business very quickly.

There is no better example of this phenomenon than in the restaurant industry. Opening a restaurant is a daunting task, and getting people in the door is only part of the battle. With opinions being available at the touch of a button, service and quality has less room for error. While people tend to dwell on and worry about how social media can hurt their restaurants, there are actually several ways that you can harness this new world order to work in your favor. Below are several social media tips for restaurants split up by 3 popular outlets. These will not only alleviate some of the concern, but also take your restaurant to the next level. Follow some best social media practices for restaurants and you will be on your way to a successful social campaign.

Facebook
When it comes to social media for restaurants, many people (including restaurant owners) think that Facebook is just about posting pictures of delicious meals or to share positive reviews. This is just a small taste of its potential. In actuality, this social media outlet can be used for so much more. Anyone can post pictures of their meal (and they do) so make your content something that they cannot get anywhere else. Offer exclusive deals and create social contests or sweepstakes that can only be accessed by liking the page. Encourage check-ins with a rewards system. Embed videos that show behinds the scenes footage of the chefs at work. You can also geo target ads for a very specific audience. Only people who like similar things or are in a specific geographical location can see these, so they do a lot of the work for you. By allowing users to see each other’s’ friends, a community can form organically.

Instagram
Many people prefer Instagram as it is much more streamlined than Facebook. Indeed, it can be an easy way to engage customers on social media for restaurants. The simple and constant feed of single images eliminates many of the options that distract Facebook users. The first mistake that many Instagram users make is that they forget to use hashtags. This does not only include business specific hashtags, but also being aware of the ones that are currently trending (i.e. #nationalcookieday). By planning your menu specials around these events (or even holidays), you can capitalize the most on the related hashtag. Specificity can also be beneficial if your restaurant is catering to a niche audience or promoting a new item. The fact is, that people have to actively read a status or tweet, but they see an image the moment it pops up. A good idea is to post a picture of your menu, especially if it changes frequently.

Twitter
Many of these same ideas apply to Twitter as well, but in different ways. Managing your restaurants Twitter account is unique because it creates a direct dialogue between the restaurant and consumer that is almost in real-time. The same rules apply to hashtags on Twitter as Instagram. Include links to menus and reviews and include special deals for Twitter followers. Time your updates to coincide with meals and promote the most positive tweets during this time. Tweets are easily sharable people enjoy the sense of connection that it provides to a brand. While some consider the current 140 character limit restricting, it can often help focus your message, not to mention our collective attention spans for long winded sentences is quickly being eroded to begin with, social media for restaurants shouldn’t be a novel.

Like any weapon, social media for restaurants can both protect and hurt your business, so make sure you use it responsibly. Different deals from different social media sources can almost guarantee more followers on each one. Furthermore, different outlets appeal to different clientele and age ranges. Providing exclusive content specific to each one can entice people even more. Contact us for more information about the role online ordering can play in your social marketing.Have a social media engagement plan

Following some of the best social media practices for restaurants will payoff over time, but there is always a bit more you can do when it comes to creating a loyal social following and getting “brand evangelists” to shout about your food from the rooftops. One of the best ways is to simply make yourself easy for them to access. We’ve mentioned in broad terms that it’s important to provide engagement with possible coupons or incentives through the various social channels, but you should also be looking for creative ways of getting your restuarants social media in front of the right audience at the RIGHT time. The 9Fold integrated email marketing package allows for sending automated feedback requests and incentive emails to customers that have ordered from your website online and are “pre-approved” by our system as having had a positive experience. If on the contrary they have not had such positive experience, they still have the ability to let you know, however in a more controlled environment which gives you a chance to make right by them without being publicly flogged. By putting your social media channels at their fingertips at the perfect time after they’ve finished their meals, you will see social media engagement jump tremendously, in a good way.

Feedback Emails For Restaurants