As a restaurant, you strive to create the best meals possible and keep your establishment full every night with happy diners (and make money!) But customers want a little more, something called the “Cheers” factor.  They want to go where everyone knows their name, but ultimately they want to feel special, to be heard, and to be treated like one of the family.

Social media tools like Twitter and Facebook allow a restaurant staff to accomplish that connection, building loyal customers through communication and relationship building online.  Building this rapport through social media is not only smart, it’s efficient, cost-effective and FUN!

Today we wrap up the 3-part series of The ABCs of Social Media for Restaurants, tackling the tricky letters S through Z, in the third and final course of your experience.  We hope you’ve enjoyed the tips and tricks and are ready to turn your casual fans into walking, talking online billboards for your restaurant! Read and enjoy!

The website (similar to Google Alerts) monitors 100+ social media platforms and will email you with content that mentions you, your restaurant or whatever words you choose. It’s important to monitor your reputation and to get ahead of any issues/bad blog mentions you might be unaware of – or to see good things you might not have seen yet!

A tweetup is a meeting at your restaurant of fans/potential fans that follow you on Twitter.  It’s a great way to bring fans into the restaurant, get to know them better, show off some of your tasty treats, provide a place for them to mingle, and guess what?  While they are there, they are posting updates about your restaurant and photos of your food, which is great visibility.

You can use Facebook as a business (as opposed to your personal name) so you can post messages on other businesses pages with your company name/logo attached.  This is great for visibility and marketing and community building, as your business logo/name shows up on these other sites in front of other people who might not know you yet.  This is one of my most popular requests for training, since most businesses aren’t aware of this powerful feature!  If you don’t know how to “turn yourself into your business page” on Facebook, call me stat!

What is your brand or style – classic, uptight, irreverent, fun, just the facts ma’am?  On social media, it’s best to pick a voice and stick with it!  Based on “who you are” as a restaurant, you create messages consistent with that so people can get to know you better and it will also attract new fans.  I think the example below from Grand Central Bakery is a perfect example of a fun, “we don’t take ourselves too seriously” voice:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/GrandCentralSEA/status/160088872208957441″]

I hope we don’t need to say this, but a website is a must have.  This is your online presence, which should including the basic info (menu, location, contact, etc) and it’s also where you gather  contact info from fans for your mailing list so you can keep in touch. You want to be “findable” on the web, so check out this list of search engine optimization tips.

People will follow you on social media because they get inside info and/or special offers that others don’t get, almost like a special club. For example, you could post a message on Facebook and offer a free dessert to anyone who comes in and says the “secret word of day”, or you could Tweet that the first five people that come in to try tonight’s special cocktail will get a free appetizer, etc.  Followers/fans could be offered first chance at special events, or you can do giveaways just for them.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/Toppot/statuses/160472724450455552″]

Videos are extremely popular and people love to see what you are doing in the kitchen. You could post videos of your chef making today’s special, or an interview with your new sommelier, or a fun look at a company party, road trip, birthday that was held at your restaurant.  Videos are also much better at communicating your style and personality, leading to more interest and more business.

Blue Moon Burgers "Secret Squirrel Burger" Photo: Kelly Cline Photography

Every social media platform has its benefits, but I find zig-zagging between Twitter and Facebook gives a nice mix of fans and information. Facebook business pages can help get good conversations going, allow fans to vote on menu items or favorites, and show off your beautiful food photos.  Twitter is more “of the moment”, with constant chatter about what’s new today, people looking for something new or suggestions on where to dine tonight.  If you only use one platform, you’ll be missing an entire audience that wants to get to know you, so spend a little time on both to get a well-round experience.

Thanks so much for reading The ABCs of Social Media for Restaurants – I hope you’ve taken away some solid information on how to make your social media activities more fun and profitable!  And remember, you need a little help I’m a Social Media strategist and trainer for restaurants – let’s get connected!

Peruse Part 1 of the ABCs here!
Peruse Part 2 of the ABCs here!