Restaurants have been around forever. Word of mouth would keep your regulars and a sign out front might help you attract some new customers, but you didn’t need to actively participate in outreach. Things changed when websites became common place, then with Yelp and Foursquare you had to start monitoring what people were saying about your restaurant. Marketing has evolved and in order to continue to keep your regulars — and bring in new customers — you have to keep up with the times.
While Foursquare has all but died out, Yelp is still active and is a great place to see what people are saying about your business. Google and Facebook reviews are faster, free, and directly tied to your online identity. Not necessarily marketing, but still related to branding, you should ensure you’re monitoring reviews and responding when applicable.
Google My Business is a very important tool to use. It can take a little bit to set up and you’ll have to confirm your address and contact information, but it ensures the correct information shows up when someone Googles you. Update this with your address, phone number, and hours so it is easy for people to find. This also ties directly to your reviews.
Bing has a similar tool called Bing Places for Business. While Bing isn’t used as readily as Google,
If you’re on Google My Business and Facebook, you don’t NEED a website, but it can still be beneficial for branding and marketing. Make sure your website is up to date with the correct address, phone number, and store hours. Your menu should also be posted either as its own page or as a PDF. Your website doesn’t need to be overly complicated, it just needs to be easy to use.
The number one platform for your restaurant to be on is Facebook. Utilize this free channel to promote your specials, share pictures of your customers, and push menu items.
You should create posts your audience will want to engage with. Ask questions; How do they feel about the newest lunch special? What’s their go to order? Who are they rooting for in the game this weekend?. Ensure all posts have at least one high quality image or video and include gifs or emojis where appropriate. Text only posts are not engaging and should be avoided.
Once you’re comfortable with Facebook, you can add Instagram as well. For the most part, these can be syndicated. For Instagram, you will want to add 10–15 hashtags to your post. Add to your story is also beneficial- post here about daily happenings and make sure to include a location tag. Try to post on Instagram a few hours before either lunch or dinner to get your audience thinking about you by the time they’re ready to eat! Tagging your location helps you to show up in the local story, allowing you to get more exposure.
It can be difficult to know what hashtags to use at first, but it’s easy once you start exploring. Start with #food and #foodstagram as well as the kind of food you’re sharing. Explore what your competitors use as well as what other people in those hashtags are using. This will help you grow your audience outside of your local region which is beneficial for branding and engagement.
Facebook and Instagram are the main platforms to invest effort in for a restaurant or bar. There can be benefit to maintaining a Snapchat for your bar, but it requires more effort than you will see in return more often than not. LinkedIn and Twitter are similar and would likely be the most beneficial if you were operating a chain of restaurants.
User Generated Content
Give people a reason to document their time at your establishment. You want them to brag about being here. Including a hashtag on your menu is an easy reminder for people. Having something aesthetically pleasing or quirky to take a picture of will give them a reason to use it. Something as simple as cafe lights can go a long way.
Marketing your restaurant/bar has changed significantly. Your Facebook and Instagram is your new sign out front and what your patrons are saying online is the new word of mouth. Don’t fear the move into digital marketing, embrace and explore it.