The pandemic has hit us hard!
Can a brand survive the after-effects posed by the pandemic by incorporating a few social media marketing strategies into the existing mix? With the outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a paradigm shift in businesses across all sectors. The impact has been tremendous on the nation’s restaurant industry as well. Starting from the small diners to the bigger chains, the pandemic has spared none. Many restaurants have had to shut down their business. Many brands adopted new ways of marketing. However, many restaurants still have no idea how to react to this.
The biggest challenge for the restaurants is to keep their presence alive, now more than ever before. They have to find the right means to stay on top of the minds of their customers. “Necessity is the mother of all inventions”, and it is time to think a little out of the box. It’s time to innovate and revamp the existing marketing strategies and venture into social media marketing to lead the change.
The current scenario
We have come a long way today. The lockdown restrictions have been let go of. People have started moving out for their daily activities. But they are still reluctant to dine out. Many businesses are trying to get back to normalcy. And so are the restaurants.
With everything that’s going around, the appetite for social media consumption is at an all-time high. There is a strong affinity for online media today, to access things people can’t go out and shop for. Even for businesses and marketers, it’s the sole means to reach out to their wider audience base.
The restaurant businesses have started adapting to the new normal. They are coming up with lucrative ways to best reach their customers.
Yes, today, restaurants can no longer rely on foot traffic to keep their businesses running. Therefore many are actively involved in pushing takeaways and food deliveries. Going digital and using technology is the only way to survive. Also, reaching out to your current and prospective customers through social media can be more engaging for your brand. The search trends indicate the demand today is high for online orders and takeaways.
Indeed, it is time to go big on social media. Facebook and Instagram are the core social media channels. The most important reason to go online on social platforms is to communicate with customers. Also to keep in touch, and build a personal connection.
Why is social media marketing essential for restaurants?
- It gives them a chance to interact with their customers and stay in their audience’s minds.
- Customers can leave their comments or suggestions or reviews at any point in time.
- Customers can share pictures of their special occasions or celebrations, highlighting the restaurant space as a great place to celebrate. They can share the right word of mouth for your brand.
According to research, when picking a restaurant, Gen Z and Millennials are 99% more likely to search for one on social media. They follow the reviews online and pick a restaurant. So, you have to let the world know that you, as a brand, exist and are better than the rest. Give the audience a reason to stop by. The right social media marketing strategies can help you sail through during trying times and come out stronger.
Social media marketing strategies that a restaurant should adopt to stand tall in 2021,
1. Optimize your online presence
Let people find you whenever they look out for you. Have an online presence with an attractive website. Use easy tools like Google My Business to manage your presence online across Google, both search and maps.
Keep your website information updated at all times. Display necessary profile information with contact details and links to your website. Make people aware of your plans, whether you are opening soon or already open, update every step on your page. Have a great logo, display beautiful images, share a good story, and use branded hashtags.
Bring your offline presence online, say display menu cards online, start your food delivery services, take reservations online, etc. Also, through a website, you can easily listen to all the suggestions coming in from your audience. A brand can actively act upon these, to better the offerings.
Let’s see an example of Barbeque Nation, they are on a mission to keep everyone happy. Their Facebook page displays all the necessary details about the place and offerings. Famous for their live grills, they now serve happiness packed in boxes.
2. Plan your content well
Content is vital in social media marketing to drive people to your page. Have a monthly event calendar in place and a content format like images, videos, and written content.
Images work the best. Food is more visual, as we always want to try food that looks good on the plate. Moreover, visuals attract more attention, stay longer in our minds, and are more appealing.
California Donuts is one of the other beautiful places that use Instagram to its best capacity. Their page displays gorgeous pictures of donut creations, and you can draw tons of inspiration from it.
Try to keep content fresh. Share excellent premium food photos, make them as bright and colorful as possible to attract an audience. But it doesn’t just stop at food.
Share your story- the how and why of your business. Write about what happens behind the scenes, some food facts, share recipes- even a secret one. You can share live cooking videos, build content around the safety measures undertaken by the restaurant. “Content is king”, so, it is the best way to grow and retain an audience by posting quality content.
3. Promote your work
As a brand, try promoting things you do, for your customers, for your staff, community service, or even as charity.
Keeping the pandemic in perspective, people are very cautious today with their eating or dining habits. You can share the safety precautions adopted by the restaurant to keep the staff and customers safe. You can share the steps taken to maintain the food hygiene standards at all times.
Actively communicate the measures undertaken by your team and restaurant as a whole, to maintain a clean and safe environment. It might be a routine activity but talk about it now. As a restaurant, your focus should be to make people feel safe.
Also, go ahead and promote your initiatives, say donating a meal to a front-line worker, or maybe someone in need. It might motivate people to contribute and make them aware that your restaurant is open for delivery or takeaways. It will undoubtedly add excellent value to your brand.
4. Find influencers, go for influencer marketing
Influencers are people who have a sizable audience and have authority over the same. Look out for some local influencers to attract an audience and promote your brand. Go for food bloggers or those in the field of lifestyle. These influencers can help gain a fair amount of new followers across channels of social media.
Channels like Facebook and Youtube continue to remain popular. But With Instagram, photo-sharing is the easiest, and it allows a vast variety of influencers to reach a niche audience.
Instagram ranks #1 as an essential and impactful channel of social media. 89% of businesses indicated that Instagram is the most important social media channel for influencer marketing.
As per statistics, almost 90% of all marketers feel that influencer marketing’s ROI is much better.
5. Advertise on social media platforms
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google search ads, Youtube, and Twitter are suitable means to reach a wider audience. Advertising on social media will let the restaurants stay in the minds of their customers.
Facebook is the most widely used social media platform, with 2.45 billion monthly active users. Facebook ads provide rich targeting options, i.e., you have an opportunity to advertise to a specific set of people. For example, you can advertise to a group of people who have common interests, and like and follow similar pages. You can advertise to people from your local area alone, as well.
Sketch, a restaurant in London, tries to create a new experience each time for its diners. It experiments with different seasonal makeovers. Like decorating with flowers to commemorating a similar event. Going for unique and quirky designs amidst all adds to portray a happy experience on social media rightly.
Advertising on Instagram is a smart way to bid on your best pictures. The images can be of the food you serve, the restaurant menu, or the table reservation booking page, etc. However, it is always advisable to have a mix of both organic and paid marketing strategies. Use paid promotions when you have to announce a special event coming up. Or when you introduce a new menu, or you want to reach out with a story.
6. Add some personal touch
Let your audience know what goes on behind the scenes. Showcase your team, delivery guys, and chefs who make the magic around food happen. It helps in building a good relationship with your audience. It might also help in rightly positioning your brand by your customers and followers.
Run contests and offer specific dining discounts. Games attract people as it gives them a chance to earn a freebie and save money. It helps build a close relationship and creates a good engagement. You can offer food coupons to those who win the contest for use in their next visit to the restaurant. Or, you can have something like place an order online today and get a dine-in free. Offer loyalty programs.
7. Social media monitoring
Social monitoring will help you identify where and when your audience is present. The more familiar you are, the easier it will be to market your restaurant to the best capacity.
Monitor social media mentions your restaurant receives. It will give you a fair idea, the reach that your restaurant generates. The influential sources that mention your name maybe a magazine or a significant food blogger. It will also enable you to listen to your customers and acknowledge their feedback. So, with social media monitoring, you can discover new and ongoing conversations surrounding your business. You can understand your customers better and react accordingly. You can improve your way of working to meet your clientele’s expectations and earn appreciation for your brand.
To quote from a case study, a restaurant in Poland, Central Europe adhered to social listening. The same being a part of its monitoring process earned it a priced reputation. The restaurant decided to act upon one of the issues raised by a mother on Facebook. This was regarding the lack of baby diaper changing tables at restaurants. She suggested all the restaurateurs and managers have portable changing tables for babies if possible. So, this restaurant in Poland reached out to the mother and responded back positively. It arranged for the changing table to be put up on the same day. Eventually, this led its way to the restaurant’s Facebook fan page. And this act received appreciation from an entire group of mothers, who then shared good word-of-mouth about the restaurant. That’s the power of understanding your audience.
People often search for the best restaurants around or the ones that deliver online. People have changed their search patterns today. But they are still looking out for good food that is available online. It is all about the convenience of things being available at the tip of one’s fingers.
So, looking at the current trend, the restaurants can benefit from the opportunities posed in the social media sphere. And they can leverage these strategies of social media marketing. This will help run their business smoothly and come out of the difficult times posed by the pandemic.
The idea is to keep moving forward and re-inventing ourselves as per the changing time.