Creative Ways the Food Industry Service Can Improve Their Social Media Strategy
Who says restaurants can’t be social? Ten ingredients for a social media strategy that connects with eaters online.
We love food, and we love food on social media. Just scroll through your feed on different networks, and you’ll likely come across pictures your friends have posted of dishes they’re enjoying, restaurants they have checked into online and — on some sites — recipes they have flagged for future enjoyment. If you own a business in the food industry, you’ll want to steer some of those conversations to the great things you’re doing. But to capture people’s attention, you’ll need a good social media strategy.
Whether you serve up fast food or plate gourmet dishes in a fine-dining establishment, a presence on social media will help increase your brand exposure. Your social media strategy maps out how you’ll make your mark online. Here are some of the ingredients (groan) you’ll need to develop a solid strategy:
- Ask around: Your social media strategy doesn’t have to come entirely from the owner. Nor should it come from a single employee who tweets a lot. Instead, make it a group effort. Talk to employees, customers, friends and more to find out what they hope to accomplish through social media and how they would go about it.
- Know your goals: Why do you want to be social? Are you looking to raise awareness of your business, boost sales or reward customers who are loyal to your brand? A restaurant that values local ingredients, for example, may also find itself promoting community events and farmer’s markets. A trendy spot may talk more about lifestyle than food. It’s up to you.
- Know your audience: Who you want to interact with can determine the platforms you use and tone you take. Targeting families with young children will take a different approach than a Happy Hour crowd. Play with keywords online to see what else your audience is interested in and follow those sites to share their content. Maybe they’ll return the favor and increase your exposure.
- Know your competitors: Look through their social sites and see what you like and don’t like. What could you do better?
- Crawl, walk, run: Starting slow is more than fine — it’s preferred! Give yourself a chance to get to know social media, the time commitment it requires and the rules. Then build on that and add social networks, experiment with giveaways or host TweetUps for your followers. But all in good time.
- Identify brand ambassadors: They might be your own employees, regular customers or food bloggers. Figure out who shares your passion for your company and talk to them. They may provide excellent feedback, post on your behalf, promote your business — there are a lot of possibilities.
- Be human: No one likes communicating with a computer. Make your posts humanized and relatable.
- Explore the differences in social networks: Your Twitter shouldn’t be a copy of your Facebook, your Facebook isn’t a replica of what’s on Google+ and what exactly should you be doing on Pinterest anyway? Get to know the social sites and pick the ones that target the correct audience. Try pushing your nightly specials or reminders about reservations through Twitter. Or maybe you want to share your signature cocktails on Pinterest.
- Always listen: There’s no shortage of research and opinions about what works best on social media. Best practices and protocols are great (and necessary) but pay attention to what works for your specific audience. Use feedback and metrics reports to see if your audience is responding how you want them to.
And No. 10, our most important tip: Be nimble. A social media strategy has to remain as fluid as the platforms it’s built on. Social networks add new features, trends emerge, sites fall out of favor. Don’t get so locked into your mission that you forget to evolve. Social media can raise your profile in the crowded food service industry, drawing attention to your brand and making you more approachable to your audience. Our recipe for success will help you reap those benefits.
Brittany Shaw is a writer and community manager for BallywhoSocial. You can find her on Twitter @brittanyshaw_ or follow our BallywhoSocial account for social media tips, news and more @BallywhoSocial.