Using Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to grow your restaurant business
By Bora Kang
With more than 79% of the US population now using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter 1 and users projected to increase to 257 million by 2023, restaurants can no longer afford not to invest in their social media presence. Millions of users utilize social media to find and share their favorite restaurants; some browse it just to figure out where and what they want to eat. In fact, more than 63% of restaurants reported to have used social media to market their business in 2018 2. So how should you use social media to promote your restaurant?
Here are our top 5 steps:
Take Great Photos
You know the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. According to Wansink (2006), the digital presentation of food is thought to influence more than 70% of the food eaten by American households 3. A study published in Brain and Cognition by Spence and his colleagues (2016) reported that our brain is wired to link food with visual cues, that is to say, “we eat with our eyes” 4. A well taken, beautifully staged photo of your restaurant or menu item will visually and emotional appeal to your potential customers, and make them want to come in taste your food. Having professional looking food photography doesn’t necessary mean that you have to break the bank, however. Nation’s Restaurant News offers some great tips on taking food photos on a budget here 5.
Share What’s New and Upcoming
According to CJ Jacobson, chef and partner at Ema, Chicago, social media allows us to “show our possible patrons what we’re working on, new menu items and what we’re excited about” 6. Using social media to tell your customers about limited time items or specials will help generate buzz around your restaurant and help increase foot traffic. Keep in mind, however, to make sure your social media pages include promotional timeframes and are up-to-date on new menu items.
You want social media to be a space where you can communicate and connect with your customers at a more personal level. This can mean posting what’s behind the scenes, spotlighting employees and sharing anecdotes and stories that might come from your vendors. Sharing your vision and goals can have great effect, as Joseph “JJ” Johnson, chef and cookbook author, New York City, said he uses “Instagram as a tool to share my story. Whether it’s food, my new cookbook or my family, Instagram serves as a platform to push forward all the things I’m passionate about and to have a social impact, as an African American chef, on the food industry” 6.
Be Responsive, Engage and Communicate
It helps to be responsive in social media. This can mean answering questions, responding to a review (especially bad ones) or just replying thank you to a comment. Not only do these actions give the impression that you care about your customers, being responsive also allows you to take notice of popular trends. For example, Todd Erickson, chef, Schwan’s Chef Collective, stated that “(social media) gives chefs the ability to see in real time what other chefs are doing anywhere in the world, which ingredients bloggers are going crazy over” 7. And we don’t have to look far for great examples. Take Burger King’s recent pilot of Impossible Burgers, for instance (or KFC’s Beyond Chicken) and their massive marketing success. They simply took notice of the increasing demand for plant-based meats and answered it 8.
Give out coupons, do giveaways, host social media contests and post often. The top restaurant brands that dominate the social media universe use all the above methods and more by creating creative and fresh content paired with incentives, products and of course, it never hurts to have a bit of humor.
- Wansink, B. (2006). Nutritional gatekeepers and the 72% solution. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 106(2006), 1324-1327.
- Spence, C., Okajima, K., Cheok, A. D., Petit, O., & Michel, C. (2016). Eating with our eyes: From visual hunger to digital satiation. Brain and cognition, 110, 53-63.
About Goliath Consulting Group
Goliath Consulting Group with headquarters in Norcross, Georgia offers a dynamic array of business development solutions, tailored to meet the needs of each individual client – in addition to a full suite of knowledge and tools that help make restaurants more profitable, including strategic planning, menu development, project management, new restaurant development, branding, marketing, franchising, equipment, technology, evaluations, outsourcing, and more. The company also has a management division that manages full-service restaurants. Goliath Consulting enjoys a ten-year track record of creating client success among local, regional and multi-unit national restaurant chains.
Goliath Consulting Group is actively involved in the Foodservice Consultants Society International and is an allied partner of the Georgia Restaurant Association.