Social media advertising is a terrific choice if you’re opening a food truck, catering business, or restaurant because these ads reach your customers quickly and effectively. Where other types of advertising require lead time and need to develop traction, social media ads have an immediate reach and effect. Build an effective ad campaign that delivers your message right to your hungry target market.
Designing Your Social Media Ad Campaign
As you design your social media ad campaign, start by thinking about where your customers are. Two billion people around the world are on Facebook, so this social media platform is a great place to start. Instagram is where you’ll find millennials, so if your business is a food truck parking across the street from a college campus, set up your Instagram account, and get ready to start posting photos of your food on this visually driven site. This social media site, which also polls very well with women and minorities, has 500 million users and consistently shows higher engagement numbers than the other major platforms. For best results, use hashtags strategically and post visually interesting images.
While you can post photos on Twitter, you also need to have something to say to make good use of this platform. Running constant ad copy here may alienate your followers; instead, think of Twitter as a mini blog and use it to help potential customers connect emotionally to your brand. On Twitter, your ads must be brief and focused, with an emphasis on social engagement and conversation. Other social media platforms useful for advertising include Pinterest, whose audience is largely female, and LinkedIn, which focuses on making business-to-business connections.
Once you’ve decided on your social media platforms, prepare your website for the traffic you’re going to get. Create a landing page for visitors linking from your social media platforms. By sending potential customers to a landing page, you can greet them with a customized message, and you can keep track of where they came from. Your landing page should also contain a call to action, whether it’s signing up for your food truck’s schedule, joining an email list to get announcements of special wine tastings at your restaurant, or taking advantage of a coupon for a catering order. Use A/B testing to see which elements and ad copy are working best on your landing page so you can increase customer engagement and return visits.
Getting Started: Facebook
Remember those 2 billion people on Facebook? They’re the reason your social media ad campaign should start there. Using Facebook for your business is very much like using your personal account. You can share posts, photos, and videos, but now you have a marketing purpose in mind rather than just staying in touch with friends. Think of your customers as if they were friends, and use the special features that Facebook offers to advertisers.
It’s hard to reach your target audience just by uploading a photo or post to Facebook. However, for extremely little money per month, you can boost posts to make sure more people see them. Promoting your business Facebook page is also extremely cost-effective. Try targeting your potential audience by location (those who live near your restaurant), hobbies and interests (those who have shown interest in the type of food you specialize in), and other parameters such as age or profession. Facebook even lets you create a custom audience and target them with your ads. Don’t forget to post plenty of photos and videos. Ask happy customers to take selfies in front of your food truck, or (with permission) post video of the latest wedding you catered, showing all the happy guests munching your hors d’oeuvres.
Evaluating the Success of Your Social Media Ads
One of the great benefits social media advertising offers to small businesses is the ability to gather data that shows just how your target audience is perceiving your ads and responding to them. Each social media platform lets you track certain metrics, and over time, you’ll be able to relate those metrics to your ROI to see which ads and tactics are proving the most successful at driving new customers to your restaurant. Pay attention not just to the reach of your posts, which shows you how many unique viewers have seen your ads, but also look to see how many people are sharing your posts with their friends, clicking Like on the post, or engaging with your brand organically through commenting on your posts. Let your analytics accumulate a bit before you start to analyze them, and then sit down to crunch the numbers on a regular basis, possibly weekly or monthly, so you can spot any trends. Setting up a simple spreadsheet with your basic numbers makes it easy to see change over time.
Tips for Your First Social Media Ad Buy
As you’re taking the first steps into advertising your food service business on social media, follow these tips to maximize your ad buys:
- Optimize your ads for mobile. People often look for restaurants while they’re on the go, so you must be able to connect to them via their smartphones.
- Choose your keywords carefully. Your advertising dollar will go further and give you greater returns if you focus on "long tail" keywords, which are typically far less expensive to purchase. For example, if you’re promoting one of your most popular dishes, use the keyword "Italian restaurant chicken carbonara pasta" rather than just "Italian restaurant."
- Add simple animation to ads to make them pop visually as viewers are scrolling through their social media feeds.
- Use geofilters where available to make your business stand out to people who are online in your immediate area.
Start your social media ad rollout strategically by choosing the right social media platforms, with Facebook in first position. Design the ads for your food service business carefully, and analyze your results so you can tweak your social media ad campaigns on an ongoing basis.