Social media has eclipsed all other means of communication and is now the way most people communicate around the world. It’s an electronic form of word-of-mouth advertising that can significantly extend a restaurant’s marketing reach unlike any other marketing channel. Savvy restaurateurs are tapping into social media to find new customers. “Social ordering allows us now to actively reach out to consumers in the social media channels that they are already participating in,” said Flynn Dekker, chief marketing officer of Wingstop, in a Nation’s Restaurant News interview. Currently, with an estimated total of nearly 3 billion social media users worldwide, Facebook along with its Messenger and WeChat (which it acquired in 2015) apps, is the undisputed leader. Not far behind is Instagram (also owned by Facebook) and Twitter with 600 million and 317 million global users, respectfully, according to the most recent statistics by Smart Insights.
With audience numbers like that it makes sense for restaurants to offer social media ordering on their marketing menu. While social ordering is still an emerging technology, there are multiple methods available to quickly and easily facilitate the process. For example, there are restaurant apps and online ordering systems that seamlessly integrate with the restaurant POS. And another option is to use a stand-alone app like Facebook Messenger or Twitter to enable customers to order dishes from an online menu. While much of the attention has been on online ordering, restaurants can also use social media to book reservations to fill empty tables.
Using social media is an inexpensive way for restaurants to find new patrons, keep in touch with their loyal diners and grow sales. Although most of the early adopters have been QSR establishments, any restaurant can benefit. “For us to have online ordering directly from our Facebook page is forward thinking, and I think that’s where the Internet is moving to,” mentioned Geoff Alexander, managing partner, Wow Bao.
Plus, social media is more powerful than many other marketing channels. For instance, when a patron shares their dining experience or a post from their favorite eatery with their network of followers, a whole new group of potential diners have just become acquainted with the restaurant. But in order to succeed with social media you have to be committed to managing and monitoring your online presence. It’s not something you can set and forget. The restaurants with the most successful online strategy constantly don’t allow their social media pages to go stale and constantly feed their fans and followers with nuggets of fresh information on a regular basis.