Social Media 101 for Restaurants

Social media is one of the best tools for any type of business. It gives you the ability to reach your audiences with little to no expenditure. Nearly everyone is on social media these days and posting to social media takes as little as a smart phone and Internet access.

Your brand image is determined by your name, your décor, the food you serve, what neighborhood you are in, and the image you build. Using social media you can help build the brand image you desire that will shape how your customers and potential customers think of your venue.

 How To Do It:

1. Sign up and get followers

I’m assuming you can figure out signing up for a Facebook or Instagram account. Both forms of social have their own benefits – Facebook for its longer format and boost capabilities, Instagram for its quick convenience and huge foodie community. Whichever you choose, both or just one, get signed up and ask your customers to follow you.

2. Build your following

You get in front of more eyes on Facebook through having followers and on Instagram by using strategic hashtags and having followers. To build your following, ask your customer base. If they’re already fans of your business, chances are, they’ll want to follow you. We used to offer a free appetizer to anyone who followed us on Facebook when they came in on a particular day of the month. Other places get followers by paid advertising or running contests. Put small flyers (no more than ¼ of a page) on tables to get people’s attention and ask them to positively review your restaurant on Facebook. Ask your Instagram followers to post pictures of themselves or their food their account and tag you (@yourbusinessname) for the chance to win a free meal.

3. Re-gram, Share & Hashtags

There are so many tactics to engaging your social audience. Hashtags are a great way to alert people who may not know about your business yet that you exist. For examples, check out what other restaurants are doing or use the search engine on Instagram to see Hashtags are most popular. For example, #foodie #localeats and the name of your city/neighborhood (#sanfrancisco #bayarea #missiondistrict) are great places to start. Don’t forget the name of the dish (#chickenpasta #parmesancheese #omnomnom) and some other fun tags (#foodporn #foodieheaven). When you get enough momentum, re-gram your customer’s good photos using the re-gram app and use it as a way to connect with your followers.

4. Post or ‘Gram @ Someone

One of the best ways to gain notice and traction is by finding relevant accounts of people who have large followings (for NYC, think 10K followers or more). When you post something, you can ‘tag’ or add that person’s account to your post using the @ symbol. For example, pick a star who’s relevant to your restaurant, Instagram one of your dishes and add in the captions the person’s account name. For example, your heart-attack burger with the Jack Daniel’s sauce and crispy, handcut fries, post it and shout @guyfieri, who has over 400,000 followers to date, and dare him to cover your place on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Users who follow a page like Guy’s will check out the tab on the app that shows any photos that he’s been tagged in.

5. Make sure your business is listed on Google Maps, Facebook locations, and Instagram

If someone comes to visit your restaurant and posts something to social media, they can choose to geo-tag your business as the location they’re visiting. However, if you aren’t listed under locations, they’ll probably skip this step and you’ve missed out on a valuable resource. Creating a page in Facebook with an address and GPS location will allow anyone visiting your business to geo-tag their pictures with your business name. Same with Google Maps. Your business may already be listed on Google Maps, but with incorrect information. Google your restaurant, claim the business as yours, and make sure the information is up-to-date. I had a friend with a restaurant that was losing business because Google Maps said he was located on the other side of town. People would show up to the wrong location, call his business number listed online, only to find out it was nowhere nearby. He lost a lot of business this way. The easy fix would have been to update his information on Google Maps.

6. Pay to boost posts

You don’t have to do it, but it’s relatively inexpensive these days to use Facebook and Instagram to advertise. Depending on where you’re business is located and the reach that a post will achieve, boosting a post on Facebook can be as little as a couple of dollars. You can do this by picking a campaign that you want to boost, or by posting something and seeing how it does with your audience. Then, pay to boost that post. Facebook advertising is smart in that it covers a small canvas near your business location and can be fairly effective in bringing general awareness to your brand/company.

7. Stay active

Social is not one of those things where you can just create it and let it go. It’s important to keep your social accounts fresh and current, use it as a way to get news out about your menu changes, daily cocktails, and specials. When someone posts something positive on your social, like or <3 their comment, re-gram, show them the love. If they say something not-so-positive, respond back promptly and professionally. Offer to take the conversation off social to your email.

Social media, if used correctly, can be a great and easy way to engage with your customers and gain new potential customers every day. Who knows – maybe one of your photos will go viral and you’ll get featured on Food Network.



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