3 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Use Social Media
Facebook. Instagram. Hashtags. The list of social media buzzwords never ends. For someone who's spent 10 years in the digital marketing space, hearing and reading about how these things can drive "likes and followers" makes me cringe at times. With all the information that gets broadcasted daily about how to market products online, most of what really works gets drowned in the sea of silly "quick" tactics that do little for your business's bottom line.
[br][clear] Now, don't get me wrong - all of these things you read about every day can and will help you market your restaurant and bring new customers in the door - when they are working in tandem with one another as part of an overall marketing strategy!
[br][clear] And that's the one word that everyone seems to forget about - strategy. If you're just posting your specials to Twitter and Facebook every day and posting some random pictures to your Instagram feed, you're not doing anything real except falling into the social media hole of creating noise and not doing anything strategic - in other words, you're not doing anything that has been planned and can be tracked, that has the intention of driving a customer to visit your restaurant, experience what you have to offer, influence the bottom line, and also create an opportunity for you to communicate with that customer in the future.
[br][clear] So are you using a marketing strategy or just using social media to keep up with the joneses? Don't worry too much if you fall into the latter category, if you're at least doing some sort of sharing online you have gotten in the habit of participating. Now you just need to take things to the next level by answering the following questions I've outlined for you below!
1. What's Your Story and Message?[br][clear] Who are you? I know it sounds crazy but a lot of restaurants make the mistake of not defining what it is that they do, what their story is or what message they are trying to send to potential customers. What is your cuisine? What separates you from the other restaurants in your area?
[br][clear] What is the best way to describe the experience that a customer will have when they visit your establishment? It's best to have a great idea on how to put these things into words and ideas BEFORE you start marketing and advertising, as all the stuff that comes after that will make that much more sense to the customer.
2. What are your Message Delivery and Marketing Channels?[br][clear] We've already mentioned some of these social media channels, but just picking them at random doesn't necessarily mean that you should be using them or that they make sense for your restaurant. Too many times I see everyone jump on the latest social media platform before even thinking twice about what it could be used for and what kind of value both the establishment and their customers could possibly get out of using it.
[br][clear] In other words, pick the social media channels that work for your business and that you're actually going to use, and don't use them all just for the sake of doing so. If you're not going to use Twitter or Pinterest properly, then stay off of them!
3. What are you doing for Conversion and Retention?[br][clear] At the end of the day, your efforts need to result in something that is going to benefit the business. The point of all of this is to increase the exposure of your business and get people to walk in the door. Are your efforts doing any of this? Can you attract any of this activity?
[br][clear] And if you are getting that business in the door, are you "performing" well enough to get that customer to come back for more? All of your marketing efforts are worthless if you're not providing your customers excellent food, service and the experience that follows. It all comes back full circle to the message you defined from the beginning.
[br][clear] Once you figure out a system that conveys your message through the right marketing channels and allows you to give the customer your best effort, you've found a winner, and you can then concentrate your efforts even more on that. Different things work for different kinds of restaurants, so get out there and experiment with things and test them out. What works for a pizzeria might not work for a fine dining seafood joint. Understand what your customer wants and what they want to hear!
[br][clear] I know many of you may be reading this thinking "this is all so vague - how can I apply it to MY business?". That's because I want you to participate in the discussion. Ask your questions in the comments below and I'll provide some real-world examples for you to implement!