By Barbara L. Vergetis Lundin, Assistant Editor
Restaurants, like the rest of the universe, should be on social media — from Twitter and Instagram to Facebook and whatever platform du jour might pop up in between. But being “on” social media means more than just having an account, it means being social with consumers, because if your audience isn’t engaged, it’s as if you’re not on social media at all.
Doing It Right
Some restaurants are definitely “on” when it comes to social media.
With more than 188,400 likes and over 1 million visits currently on its Facebook page, The Capital Grille is obviously doing something right. In addition to a beautifully designed website and active Facebook platform, the restaurant is connecting with customers across Instagram and Twitter.
And customers are clearly engaged, given the Instagram response to a recent posting of The Grille’s Cold Shellfish Platter, from “new platter at my fave spot”, “Omg I want”, and “I need this in my life” to a simple “Yes!”
Eataly NYC has a Facebook page that boasts more than 112,00 likes and 214,000 visits, as well as a unique twist: a dating app. The Facebook page encourages users to “Find your match in culinary heaven with our new dating app [MangiAmi]! Upload some photos of you with the food that you love…and our algorithm will find your perfect partner(s).” Now that’s what I’d call engagement.
But perhaps your customers aren’t as engaged and connected. Your customer may not be the problem.
6 Ways to Engage
You’ve chosen the platform and created a profile. That’s that. But social media can’t be boiled down into a checklist. So, now what?
Here are six easy ways to engage.
1. Get the conversation started.
The best way to create engagement? Start a conversation.
That might be as simple as asking, “What’s for dinner tonight?” Social media has taught us nothing if not how much people like to post about themselves and what they are doing. They might not be planning to dine at your restaurant tonight, but once you tell them what you’re having for dinner (nightly specials or a hint of what’s on the menu), they just might change their minds.
2. Be responsive.
Once this (or any other) conversation has been started, keep it going. Be ready to converse in real-time on the subject at hand. Also, be sure you are watching your social media to see what conversations others are starting and chime in frequently. Nothing builds rapport like the feeling of having a good friend online.
3. Make their mouths water.
I love reading about food. It’s almost the next best thing to eating it. So make their mouths water and tempt users’ taste buds with a menu sampling and recipe from the restaurant.
4. Post a pic.
The next best thing to eating is looking at sexy food pics. You create masterpieces every night. Why not snap a pick and post it. And why stop there? I, for one, never tire of food photos, and lots of social media trolls agree. Keep ‘em coming at regular intervals, and you’ll keep visitors coming back for more.
5. Promote interaction.
No one’s talking? Give them something to talk about. This could be as simple as a poll (which platforms can help you create) about what families are eating on Meatless Mondays or something that’s not even about food but related to pop culture like music or movies.
6. Spread the word.
Are you hosting a special event, featuring a holiday-themed menu, or holding a grand opening? Social media is the perfect place to spread the word. And don’t think it’s “one and done.” Lead up to the event over a series of weeks or even months and create some buzz. If you are really creative, you could start a city-wide search for answers to questions you post about the event and award a prize to the person who figures out the mystery.