Since our company, Social Resolve LLC is no longer a social media marketing company, and is now exclusively a software company, it affords me the rewarding opportunity to help marketers and firms with what we have learned over several years in the space. There are a ton of vertical markets within social media that can be tapped to build a successful agency. One of the biggest of those markets is the restaurant business. This market represents a significant opportunity for both new and existing social media firms to see significant growth and profit.
Here are some statistics you need to know: According to the National Restaurant Association, “Social media savvy consumers (frequent users of at least one social media tool, including Facebook, Twitter, mobile phone applications such as Foursquare or Urban Spoon, or online review sites such as Yelp) are more active in the restaurant community and dine out more frequently than the general public.”
Their study goes further by stating “More than eight out of 10 restaurant operators say social media will become a more important marketing tool in the future. More than half also say they are likely to incorporate Facebook, online review sites, Twitter and blogs into their marketing mix in the next two years.”
My experience in developing and executing social media strategies within this space has uncovered several keys to success. Here are some of the things that you need to focus on:
1) Be known for something – There are millions of restaurants in the US. Sometimes several on a single corner. Your clients brand is competing against national chains and larger more financially backed restaurants that spend millions on branding and marketing. It is imperitive that you make your clients restaurant unique. Leverage their specialty to create a following and drive traffic. Whether it’s their specific food type, a unique drink they make or entertainment, find the unique niche and use it.
2) Targeted Community – Audience size is massively important to having a successful social media program for restaurants. You must have a large enough, highly targeted community that takes into account both demographic and geographic specifics. I believe that a Twitter following of 1,500 and fanpage community of 400 is the minimum bar to focus on initially. The audience must be big enough to drive enough activity.
3) Content strategy – Remember, social media marketing is about relationships. It’s not about you but your community. Their interests, desires and hot buttons. Determine their interests and share relevant, valuable content they will enjoy and prompt them to engage with your restaurant in conversation. Then share some content about special deals and events you are having, while paying special attention to targeting offers during your slow times.
4) Engage – If you are a social media marketer or agency, you should already know this. Remember the social media formula is – Content leads to conversation. Conversations lead to Relationships and Relationships lead to Business and ROI.
5) Staff – The most important part of the restaurant social media marketing program is staff training and involvement. They need to understand the program being executed and how it relates to their customers. Be sure they know the companies social media sites/names and how to converse with socially savvy customers. The key to getting staff buy-in of your social media program is helping them see a direct connection to their improved income.
We know we tend to tip better when out waiter connects with us or has a similar interest in a sports team, etc. Help the wait staff understand that social media people are nuts about it. Connecting with them about social media leads to bigger tips and repeat customers that want to sit in their areas. Once they realize this fact, staff tend to get on board, resulting in a powerful partnership that will push your marketing efforts forward far more rapidly and effectively.