Social Media for Restaurants: How to Increase Your Customer Base

By Jake Martin

4 min read

Marketing options for restaurants are anything but sparse. From native advertising to websites, blogs and directory listings, everywhere you look, there’s a new place to plaster your name. One marketing method, though, is particularly effective and relatively inexpensive for bringing customers in the door: social media marketing.

If you are a restaurant owner who wants to convert more locals into loyal customers (and who doesn’t?), check out these five social media strategies.

Complete Your Profiles With Relevant Information

Whether you’re just setting up profiles or you’ve had social media for a while, make sure all of the most important information is readily available for customers. Today’s customers tend to do online research before making purchases, including where to eat. They want specifics: hours, location, website and menu.

Facebook allows you to incorporate business information on your profile, and if you’ve selected “Local Business/Restaurant/Cafe” as your business category, you’ll have the option to add a PDF menu to your page. Even sites like Instagram and Twitter, which have a significantly smaller profile space, allow you to add the most vital information.

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Include Mouth-­Watering Photos

From Pinterest recipes to food bloggers to individuals sharing their own photos on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, food photos are marketing gold. Get in on the trend by posting mouth-watering food photos of your own.

High­-quality photos are essential, so invest in a good camera and don’t neglect lighting. Better yet, hire a professional photographer. Pictures are successful on all social media platforms, so choose the outlets to reach your target market. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter are all good options.

Mouth­-watering pictures will get people excited about your restaurant’s cuisine, tempt people to share photos and spread the word about your business. Ultimately, the goal is to persuade them to stop in for a bite!

Claim Your Yelp Page

Yelp allows customers to rank businesses with star ratings, written reviews and photos. It is particularly important to your social media strategy because many potential customers will seek out reviews of your restaurant before deciding whether to try it. As a restaurant owner, you want some control over what information they’re viewing.

Although your business may already have a page on Yelp, go through the process of claiming your business page. This will allow you to update contact information and hours. Other features include tracking user views, customer leads and responding to reviews.

Even if you have claimed your business page, you do not have the power to take down negative reviews. However, you are able to respond to reviews, which can be just as powerful. Thoughtful responses address issues and demonstrate you care about your business’s reputation.

There are also software options that can help you manage your social channels. For example, QuickBooks Point of Sale powered by Revel Systems allows users to connect to Yelp and other social media sites directly, so you can see who’s checking your Yelp page and leaving reviews; it also includes Twitter messaging.

Don’t Be Overly Promotional

Clear goals for your social media marketing efforts are to gain customers and increase sales. However, that doesn’t mean every post has to scream, “Come eat here!”

Think of your social media page from a customer’s standpoint, not a business standpoint. By sharing interesting and informational content, you’ll please your current fans/followers and encourage others to join in the fun.

Aim for a solid mix of social posts to keep things fresh. For restaurants, this can include blog posts, food facts, recipes, featured menu items, informational articles, profiles of employees, customer spotlights, local news and events, etc. Posts with good photos and videos work best, and you should also think about your brand’s personality to make sure it is conveyed in your posts.

Share special offers—coupons, discounts, buy-­one-­get-­one deals—to encourage new fans and customers to drop in. By sharing offers on your page regularly (each week or each month), you’ll entice customers new and old.

Interesting content will encourage your fans and followers to engage with your business. They may comment on a post that caught their attention, or reach out to you in their own posts with questions or comments. These are good signs that your promotional strategies are working. Keep the engagement up and the conversation going by responding to each customer who engages with you.

Be Consistent

Consistency is what makes all the aforementioned tips work well. Remain consistent in your social media approach. Some businesses feel they need to be on social media, so they set up a profile and then abandon it. When people visit your social pages only to find old information, they’re less likely to become a fan/follower and may even question if your business is still open.

To encourage consistency, you can:

  • Choose only the social platforms you can keep up, even if it means you’re only on one site. You can always expand as you go.
  • Assign social media duties to a particular person or team. It will become a regular part of their job, and your social channels will get a consistent voice as well.
  • Use technology to facilitate your efforts. Social media scheduling tools are available to save you time.
  • Consider social media an important form of customer service. You wouldn’t neglect customer phone calls, so don’t neglect reviews or social messages from customers either.

Social media can be an incredibly effective tool for restaurant marketing. Add these social techniques to your marketing toolkit, and get ready to watch your customer base grow. For more tips on how to increase your customer base, check out our article on local marketing.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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