It’s 2016, and nobody’s just going to walk into a restaurant. Before anyone goes out to Dinner, they search for restaurants online. Your potential customers are taking a look at your menu, seeing what you have to offer without entering. Online has now become a big part of your business, whether you like it or not and you need to be using it to your advantage to attract more customers.
While most have got the basics set up – Facebook, Instagram & Twitter, most aren’t as active and are letting customers slip away. For those who realized early on what it could do for them, they are reaping the rewards of it. More bookings, an engaged community and and the ability to keep your customers from turning their heads to competitors are only a few of the benefits of being active on social. Many don’t think to have a customer loyalty programme in their business, but it keeps them coming back to you and bringing friends, family or associates to you and spreading the word. And not only are they telling it to all their friends, but when they check in to your restaurant, all of their friends get to see that they’ve been into your place.
It’s all well and good you having a strategy in plan, but there are things that are far more important you need to be doing to really step up your restaurants presence online.
1. Encouraging customers to check in.
You should have at least have a check-in sign somewhere in your restaurant. Whether it’s sticker on the wall or a board saying something along the lines of ‘We’re Social Media Friendly! Like our Facebook page and Check in ….’ and offer a small incentive like a free refill on their drinks for example. No customer will refuse this, it’s barely anything for them but for you it’s huge. You can now interact with them once they leave your restaurant, and provide them with excellent customer service online that’ll stick with them, and they won’t forget you. Besides building a relationship with them, all of their friends and family members on Facebook have now seen you.
Over the past few years, video has evolved massively. With the likes of Vine, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, Video is becoming a very hug you have a huge amount of platforms to show how your brand is different to the rest. I’ve not seen many restaurants using video, and this is a huge advantage to you, you can start something unique that’ll have your customers getting excited. Here’s an example from La Porchetta, they haven’t hired out a huge camera crew to film something, they’ve just gotten out their phones while the chef is having fun with the Pizza.
Look at him go!
Posted by La Porchetta on Thursday, July 23, 2015
Looking at that, it’s pretty impressive, but not as impressive as you going to the restaurant and seeing that with your own eyes, instead of behind the screen. Next time I went in there for a Pizza, I’d even try and request for the Chef,
3. Location Data & Adverts
More and more of your potential customers are downloading apps such as Trip Advisor, Yelp, Foursquare etc.. and are waiting to find you. If you aren’t already on there, you should be. Millions of people visit those websites looking for the next best place to try, whether they are visiting from another country, or are just looking to switch up from the usual, you need to be with the top 4 (Yelp, Trip Advisor, Foursquare, Google Local) and encouraging your regular customers to leave reviews for you. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter, as if you’ve got 10 5* reviews, it might not look authentic. Instead of deleting the negative ones, respond in a positive matter, see if you can try and make it up to the customer so that when people are viewing your page, they are seeing genuine reviews from a variety of different people.
You should also be allocating a small budget to advertising on Facebook. With the developments on Facebook with ads and graph search, you can get detailed to the people you want to target, such as ‘I want this to go to WOMEN who are between 30 and 65+, whose favourite interests involve eastenders and eating Pizza’. Especially if you are a small business without not much money for huge campaign, you can use adverts to target the locals in your area, and it won’t clear out your bank balance.
4. Content from the customer
If your food tastes good and looks amazing, then your customers will want to share it. Millions of people are sharing what they are eating every day, when your customers are sharing what they’ve just eaten to all their friends on Instagram, it’s a great endorsement for you. For better awareness, create your own hashtag. Not only does it give you something to share, but it’s also an online database of your menu.
A great example from Catch 122 in Vancouver, Canada. They’ve created the hashtag #Catch112Menu, which they use with all of their posts, and have got their customers engaging in it. In their position, I would get a Instagram stream of the widget onto their website, so potential customers can see all these endorsements from regular customers, and have a look at what’s on offer, rather than stock images that certain restaurants have, that turn out looks nothing like what was expected.
Dominos had a great campaign a few years ago, where they had customers use a hashtag, and they would take £0.01 price off a certain pizza. Not only was it a very successful campaign in getting their audience engaging with them, but having people sharing with them where they’re eating their orders from.
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