Promoting Your Restaurant Using Social Media To Grow Your Customers Base

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Social media is now one of the most powerful tools in the world. Social media has revolutionized how people interact with each other and society as a whole. From video games to professional networking sites, people now use the Internet to interact. And with the emergence of smart phones, tablets, and ultra portable laptops people are now connected 24/7.

So are you trying to figure out how to tap into the awesome power of social media? Do you want to learn why and how social media can empower your business? If so, keep on reading! We will show you the basics of social media marketing for your restaurant and how it can be wrapped in with your other marketing efforts!

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The Key Aspects
-Influencing Influencers-
Society is driven by opinion. From world class critics to local community leaders, the success of your business can be greatly expanded by targeting and gaining the favor of “influencers.” In short, influencers are people who help sway the opinion of other people. Did you ever have a friend who always liked to plan nights out? If so, that’s an example of an influencer.

Identifying influencers can be difficult. Other times it’s easy, such as finding a local blogger who blogs on community food. Finding influencers within friend groups, however, is more difficult. One way is to ramp up your interaction with customers. Start talking to groups of people and see if you can find out what makes the group tick. Is there someone who seems to take charge of choices? If so, try to gain their favor.

Another way is to check popular forums, such as Serious Eats Talk, and see if there are any people in your area who are writing frequently. Another way is to launch group specials. For example, you can offer dinner for four and give a 20% discount to groups of four or more. These types of ads can then be blasted through social media and will draw the attention of influencers who will gather their friends and come out for dinner.

Looking for some more tips? Consider these suggestions:

  • Find your target segment online. For example, if you run a coffee shop check for coffee blogs and forums.
  • Keep an open mind. That cash strapped student who comes into your shop for a dollar cup of coffee might also have a lot of friends he or she can bring.
  • Target frequent writers on review websites, such as Yelp, and try to draw them in and gain their favor.
  • Target local food bloggers and other reviewers.

-Get Up Close & Personal-
You need to personalize every experience for your customers. Every customer who comes into your restaurant should be engaged and you should work to make him or her feel at home. Take a moment to learn their name and their tastes. Make recommendations without being pushy. And otherwise engage, engage, engage.

You need to convey that your establishment is more than just another restaurant. You need to convince people that it is a truly unique place and that you and your staff always place their wants and needs as number one. Everyone who walks through the door should be treated like a VIP because at the end of the day all paying customers are VIPs. Every Facebook fan should also be treated as special.

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Looking for some ways to personalize your restaurant marketing efforts? Read on:

  • Target specific online groups with limited time specials. For example, maybe there is a local parenting society? Contact them and offer family fun days where children eat for free and receive a small toy.
  • Get personal. Tell people your story and what inspired you to open your restaurant.
  • Create VIP events for a limited number of your best customers. Offer them chances to sample new menu items and special desserts.
  • Create a restaurant blog and post funny stories.

-Make it Accessible-
Customers want to know where their food comes from. For example, if you work with local farmers you should tell your customers about these farmers and your relationship with them. You should also offer bios for your staff members and list out some of the ingredients in your recipe. This doesn’t mean you have to give away the secret ingredient in your secret ingredient soup, just that you should ramp up your communications.

Accessibility should occur both online and offline. You should personally message your best customers with insights and discounts. You should also greet customers and shake their hands. Warm and friendly engagement creates a friendly atmosphere that customers are sure to love. You can also bring your chef and cooks out of the kitchen to meet customers or you can take customers on a tour through your kitchen.

You should also track your customers. This can work through point of sales systems that track customer’s orders and their preferences. And if you see that someone loves your strawberry parfait, why not offer them a free slice of your strawberry cake?

And don’t rely just on POS, get your employees to engage customers and figure out what makes them tick. Once you have identified your most loyal customers, create a database with their contact info. Then you can start sending them specials for upcoming holidays and you can invite them to unique events, such as a wine tasting night.

Still looking for more ideas? Consider these suggestions:

  • Have your chef and cooking staff keep a blog on your restaurant’s website. This blog can be used to introduce new staff members, post recipes, and offer other key insights into your kitchen’s operations.
  • Send personalized emails to customers with recommendations. Forget the normal cut-and-paste messages and write out your own message. For example “ Hey John, great seeing you last week! I noticed that you really love our coffee! Well, we just got a new Jamaican Blue Mountain brew in today and if you swing by in the next two days I’ll give you a free cup!”
  • Print up business cards for your wait staff and have them hand out a card with each meal. This card can contain a one or two line bio and offer email contact information. You can also encourage staff to Facebook friend customers!

Ultimately, your social media and on-the-ground efforts need to re-enforce one another. You can use social media to draw in customers and then create a unique and welcoming environment that makes guests feel welcomed from the moment they step through the door to the second they leave.

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