Take a look at your Facebook feed and you will see a world vying for your attention. The thing is you are trying to capture the attention of your current guests and even entice new guests to come for a visit too. Kind of a conundrum, huh?
Throw on top of that TV and radio commercials, then you have messages 24/7 out there. We all want to be seen. We all want your attention. If you don't want your share of the attention out there, never fear because others will gladly take your share.
So, how do you stand out? How do you get people to look at your restaurant? How do you make an impact in today's crowded marketing world?
Don’t fret, below are a few tips to help your brand shine in the Digital Age!
1. Stop being boring.
It happens every day on the internet. A restaurant posts their daily special with a plea to come down today and try it. Like a little bird asking for food. The problem is there are 1000 other little birds in your market all crying for the same thing. That same generic post of your special and "call to action" might be great. However, it is the same message that your guest has now become desensitized to. You're stuck in a pattern that is failing to get attention anymore.
Have you even seen (or been in) a relationship that just seemed to lose "that loving feeling"? Surely, you've been there. The only way to get that back is to step up your action and fall back in love with your partner and make them fall back in love with you. So, you start working out, looking better so you are more attractive to them. Same goes for your social media. Stop being boring and care a little more about your posts.
2. Stop playing small.
It's understandable, you don't want to be too far out there. You want to play it safe. When you play it safe, you are putting a muffler on your brand. It's like having a Porsche and only driving it at 35 mph... all the time! Time to step on the accelerator, if you want to leave that town of average you have been staying at.
Maybe you are a breakfast concept and you keep posting the same picture of your pancakes, omelets, and that famous Bloody Mary. Very nice. Very safe. *Insert snoring sound here*
That breakfast concept might want to get in touch with their bold side more. How about that same picture of the pancakes with these words in bold across the front...THIS IS NOT A DREAM!
That probably got your attention a little more than a plain picture of pancakes.
Depending on your brand, you could push your social media right up to the edge! Radio shock jock Howard Stern built his brand by pushing the edge and sometimes even going over the edge. Like him or hate him, one thing is for certain…you know who he is.
If you want to take the brakes off your social media, you are going to have to shake it up a little. How about this post from a pizza concept called Toppers….
3. Stop being afraid of negativity.
Here is some bad news: When you put your brand out on the internet not everyone in the world is going to like you. The more you disrupt the market the more haters you will attract.
Here's the good news: you want haters. That means you are shaking things up. Now granted some have a lot of hate they want to throw your way. They are overcompensating for their own failures and for being stuck in mediocrity. You might find that some are from a rival restaurant down the road or an employee who left on bad terms (when they steal steaks or money, you kinda need to terminate them). They will strike back like most cowards do, from the shadows of the internet.
Embrace them, however, don't take it. Report the posts or block them. Especially if their rants are hateful or demeaning to your brand or team. Oh... and don't take it personal. Haters usually are reflecting their own insecurities and doubts. They just want you to come down to their level. Don't.
4. Stop being one dimensional.
You probably have a Facebook page for your restaurant. How about Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn? You need to be here, as well. Why? Because that is where your guests are.
Once again, in order to break free from the cult of the average restaurant you need to bring some new tools to the game. The beauty is all those other social media platforms are free to start! The price of admissions a little time and effort. Compared to the monthly cost of a billboard to advertise, that is a sweet deal!
It's always shocking to see restaurants that have access to these free marketing tools and still would rather spend thousands of dollars on billboards, radio, tv commercials, or full page print ads. If they would just spend half of that amount on promoting social media posts they could target the exact demographic and psychographic they desire. Perhaps, some people just like to see their face up on that billboard on the highway. Egos do need to be stroked.
5. Stop making a ripple.
How many times have you posted this week? Once? Three times? More? Whatever you think is effective posting is not having the impact you think. You are throwing a rock into the ocean and think you are making a splash. You might not hear it, however, the internet is laughing at you.
If you always do what you have been doing you will always remain exactly where you are. Habits make the person. Your social media habits make the marketing.
Here's your challenge: double down on your social media posts. Whatever you are posting now, double down and do that every day! So if you are posting once a day, make that twice a day (and across all your social media platforms). Do that for 60 days and then double down again! If you are posting twice a day, now ramp it up to four times. You will start to get some people who will say you are posting too much. Good. Remember you will never make a wave if you play it safe, small, or avoid negativity.
Here are some sad statistics on how restaurants are doing with posting just on Facebook:
Only 22% had posted in the last 10 days
Only 17% had posted in the last week
Only 9% had posted in the last 36 hours
If you are close to these stats, then you need to take immediate action to correct that before your brand loses any more traction on social media. No excuses. Just do it.
6. Stop being selfish.
Maybe you have a legion of followers on social media. Good for you. Now, how much time do you engage with them? Engagement is when you like other people's posts and have conversations through comments. The internet gave us an amazing tool to get our message out there and too often that communication is one sided. Your message. Your restaurant. You, you, you. Stop being selfish.
The secret to social media is not really a secret at all. It's about being social. It's about connecting with people. It's about sharing ideas. That means you are going to need to look past yourself and get involved in other people's agendas. Share their posts. Like their pictures. Keep conversation a two-way street. Oh, and please be sincere and authentic. When someone writes a great review about your restaurant do not reply with a simple, "thank you." That's the same as the hostess greeting guests at the door with the standard, "Just two?" You're better than that.
7. Start being a lion.
Here is a great story you might have heard before….
Every day in Africa a lion wakes up.
Every day in Africa a gazelle also wakes up.
If you wake up and realize you're a gazelle you know that if you are going to survive, you're going to have to outrun the slowest gazelle. You don't have to be the fastest, you don't have to outrun the lion. You just have to be slightly better than the average. When you have a gazelle’s mindset you are only thinking about doing the minimum to get by, you just need to stay a few steps ahead of the slowest in your group. The gazelle lives by fear and only runs when the lion is chasing it. If your run your social media with a gazelle mindset, you only take action or post when there is external motivation or pressure like a new restaurant opening up down the street that has everyone talking.
The lion realizes that if it wants to survive and feed its family that it must catch a gazelle. Every day when the sun comes up it starts running for what it wants. It chases the goal. If you have a lion’s mindset, you focus in your social media with a clear plan and you take action. You dominate your market with consistent presence on all the social media channels you are on.
When the sun comes up, are you running towards social media and keeping your brand top of mind or are you a gazelle just afraid of your shadow?
One gets dinner, the other becomes dinner.
By Donald Burns, Industry Expert