Social media can make or break a restaurant, especially in South Florida, where the competition is high. Restaurant owners are now facing the whirlwind that post comments and customer reviews can bring. After all one small hiccup can open the door for a nasty review so if you are a restaurant owner then you need to have strong social media marketing strategies. Additionally, small business owners have to keep up with the ever-changing fast-paced world of digital marketing. So if you own a restaurant in South Florida, we have gathered some helpful unconventional tips on how you can improve your social media presence and land more restaurant customers.
Online Reputation Management for Restaurants
#1. Google Alerts
Social media is about being social, but if you own a restaurant or any business where anyone can leave a review, then you must be on guard like a watchdog. Luckily, Google has a tool called Google Alerts that will do this while you sleep. Google alert alerts you when a topic/name is discussed online. So it is vital that you set up a Google Alert for your restaurant name and owner Name.
#2. Monitor reviews weekly
Assign someone on your team to look into reviews on a weekly basis. Sometimes someone just needs early attention, and if the issue is addressed quickly, they will remove the review. Make sure your Google reviews are sent you via email so you can monitor those and don’t forget how Yelp reviews are extremely important for the food industry. Here are some tips when it comes to online reviews.
- Monitor reviews weekly
- Reply to all reviews good or bad
- Be proactive about gaining new reviews. Set up a sign up in your restaurant or make it part of your email marketing strategy
- Handle negative reviews with care. Never be combative and contact reviewer to try and offer a coupon or address the complaint. Many times people just want to be heard, and when you pamper them, they let their guard down and usually will back down.
# 3. Step up your Google My Business game
Google Plus is now dead, and although Google my business is not a social media platform but a local SEO one, they have now launched Google Posts. It acts almost like a mini social media platform, in my opinion. It is kind of like a mix of a Tweet and a Blog Post. They allow you to add four types of posts: Events, Offers, News, and Products, making it perfect for the restaurant industry. The odd thing is that these posts do expire, so it is essential that you add one weekly. I would add coupon offers or even your latest blog posts. Unfortunately, there aren’t many scheduling platforms for this, so it is a bit of a manual process, but the 5-10 minutes a week is sure worth it. Why? Because these posts show up in Google Results under your Google My Business listing and they are great for local SEO. Make sure you add some desired keywords in your text.
#4. Yelp is the top place for restaurants
Make sure your profile is optimized and add great photos. Monitor reviews here carefully and reply to everyone. Yelp many times pushes good reviews down because they really want you to advertise. I do suggest that you pay for the contact button if you could. See if there are local Yelpers that frequently post and invite them to check out your place and offer a free meal. Yelp hosts events for top reviewers so if you know of any clients that are top reviewers on Yelp, contact them for a possible collaboration.
Social Media Marketing Strategies for Restaurant Owners
User-generated content, repost, share, credit. Instagram is a gold mine for restaurant owners. After all, there are thousands of food bloggers, foodies, and locals sharing amazing food content on this platform.
User-generated content also known as UGC, is when you reshare content from others. UGC is huge when it comes to digital marketing. Why? Because it provides what is known as social proof. When the potential target audience sees other people validating the business, having a great time, and posting gorgeous food photos, then they tend to trust the business immediately and want to visit.
Social Media Today reports that: In fact, 64% of consumers will actively seek out reviews before they commit to handing over their money. And when looking for reviews of a restaurant nowadays, many people will turn to Instagram to check the photos others are posting of that place. Yes, they do still check Google and why we discussed Google My Business, but we know how powerful Instagram is for food lovers.
Social Media Today also found that User Generated Content makes marketing human. 75% of respondents claimed that UGC makes content more authentic. Now that consumers are craving deeper connections with brands, the need for authentic content is greater than ever.
A report by Nielson Global found that 42% of consumers are more likely to trust a recommendation from another person over branded content, suggesting that the authentic approach to content is the best-practice approach.
So as a business owner, you need to be on the lookout of who is tagging you on Instagram and their stories. Then reshare their content always giving credit to the original source. Many hotels are now strictly using blogger’s photos because after all, they are usually professionally taken and have a great angle and insight.
To do: Check who has been tagging you in Stories and on their Feed then find great photos you can repost, You can use a repost app or use the Instagram Stories feature called “ Add to Stories”.
Additionally, don’t forget to check your Google Analytics to see who has blogged about your business. Referral traffic can be found in Acquisition> Overview > Referral. Make sure you click on referral to see who has mentioned you on their own website.
You may be surprised and find some excellent links and reviews there. Then if it is a great blog post, share that post on your social media by mentioning this blogger on your own stories. Sharing their blog post can help remind them and their audience about your great place.
#6. Embrace the power of the Direct Message
Instagram makes it so easy to reach potential influencers, clients, and fellow brands. You can reach out and connect with local micro influencers of even big influencers. One tip is to offer them a free meal or invite them to a menu reveal and host them. They will, in turn, give you great photos and stories plus introduce you to their fantastic audience. Many small business owners, including restaurant owners, distrust the use of social media as they can’t measure the direct ROI. One way to measure ROI in influencer marketing is to give the influencer a special code they can in turn use with their audience. Then you can measure conversions from the campaign you worked with that influencer.
Many bloggers that are starting out, are willing to barter for exchange of services so if you don’t have an influencer marketing budget then try micro or nano influencers so those influencers with 1k-9kk followers, or 10-20k. More prominent influencers may charge for feed posts and will treat it more like a campaign which can also generate great results.
Bonus tip. I am loving the voice recorder feature in Direct messages, and I have now started thanking some followers for the follow. I also check their profile and compliment them on something or ask them what kind of content they would like to see in the near future. Sending them a voice message helps you stand out from your competition and can open up some great connections. Don’t be a stalker but connect naturally.
#7. Post interesting content
I am sure you have heard it before, “Post GREAT content”, but what is great content? Simply put it is content that your ideal audience enjoys and content they can connect to.
Yes, we love all the mouth-watering food photos you can add but think about your ideal audience. Are they college students? Baby boomers? Working adults? Then think about what they care about and how you can help. Post other types of content too. For example, you can post an event that is parallel to your business, like an important cause of local tidbit news. A great South Florida brand that does this brilliantly is Veza Sur Brewing Company.
Watch their Instagram for two weeks, and it is like watching a free branding and marketing lesson. It is not just about how good their beer is; it is about community building, like-minded events, and behind the scenes. I don’t feel I am being sold too and that is terrific marketing.
Try to showcase how your food or place make clients feel. Research the language used on posts that talk about you. What do they have in common? Start creating content that resonates with your audience.
Bonus Tip: Have great photos. Hire a photographer or content creator to best showcase your food and drinks. High-quality photos will go along away. If you in South Florida, I would love to chat. I offer photography, social media, and content marketing for small business owners.
#8. Don’t be afraid to pay to play
Social paid advertising can do wonders for a restaurant business. After all, it can give immediate results of clicks, phone calls and grabbing discount coupons. In 2019, a restaurant must embrace that paid social is a wise investment and should be tried out. All in all, this is the ultimate way to track ROI when it comes to social media. Andre Ice from Socially Buzz states:
“For restaurants to be successful in reaching more of the right customers they should shift their focus to hyper-local multichannel digital advertising. It’s no longer safe to just focus on Instagram or Facebook, they need to invest resources and finances in local-based channels like Yelp, Google Places, and TripAdvisor to acquire more local every-day customers. I’ve never once went to Instagram and Facebook to find a local restaurant, and normal customers won’t either. The key is to start thinking like your customers and not as a business owner.”
Restaurant social media marketing doesn’t have to make your brain hurt. There are processes and workflows that you can get incorporate so you can get on a schedule and not be a slave to social media. As a restaurant owner, you can not ignore social media or it will swallow you whole and your competition will lick their lips and watch with a grin on their face. Stay up to date with the latest social media strategies by following us on Instagram. We share weekly marketing tips and if you are local to South Florida, we would love to meet you.
Update- Google My Business just released a new feature where you can claim your short name. Hurry and go claim yours today. It is under info in your Google My Business dashboard.