March 19, 2012 by NoWait | No Comments
Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other social media sites hold powerful sway over today’s consumers. People are reading and engaging socially before they’re dining at a restaurant. Ultimately, social media becomes an investment of time, and as a busy restaurant owner or manager, you have to pick and choose which accounts to spend time on in order to make the highest impact (and not sink valuable work hours into surfing the ubiquitous social outlets). This blog is one of a three part series addressing restaurant social media, which will address the Critical Three, the Extra Ones, and the Social Media Aspect of Waiting.
Here’s a quick run-down of the top three social media sites you should be on, and how you should be managing them.
The Critical Three:
1. Facebook (Scroll to bottom for infographic)
What it is: This is the most popular social media platform, with personal and business pages. If you’re not on here, you don’t exist.
Time commitment: 15 min/day
Mobile usage: Over 1/3 of Facebook’s 600 million+ users use Facebook Mobile.
What to do: Your restaurant should have a business page that has been optimized to gain new “likes” and gives valuable information (address, hours, phone number) to visitors. On March 30, 2012, all Facebook pages switch to the “Timeline” format. Here’s what you should look out for:
- Cover photo: This is the large banner displayed at the top of the page. It should be eye-catching, personalized, and informational. Check out these examples of creative timeline covers.
- Three image thumbnails: These are located to the right of Facebook’s native App icons (like “Photos”). Your information should be easily accessible through these boxes. They are your new “tabs.”
- The new “wall:” Use the Timeline feature to “pin” an important piece of information at the top of your timeline. Also, insert milestones (e.g. “Restaurant opened,” “New Chef Jones Arrives”) in your restaurant’s history to make it interesting and informative for visitors.
Make sure your page is planned out and functional before making the switch. As always, mix promotional status updates with fun updates (videos, shout outs, funny pictures) in order to appeal to your fan base and not always concentrate on sales. Don’t forget to respond to posts and comments made by your patrons.
What it is: “Follow” accounts (businesses or personal) and receive mini-updates at 140 characters or less. Often used to show pictures or link out to other sites.
Time commitment: 5 min/day
Mobile usage: Half of Twitters 165 million+ users use Twitter Mobile
What to do: Create an account and encourage your guests to follow you for restaurant updates by putting your Twitter handle on menus, checks, and your website. A quick tweet and a picture only takes a minute and can promote a new menu item or drum up some guest interaction. For example, Burgatory Bar uses their Twitter account to announce the new “Burger of the Day” (B.O.D.) to followers. Most importantly, Burgatory uses their account to respond to guests and spark conversation for repeat business.
What it is: Consumers post ratings, reviews, and pictures of businesses. People go here for a quick and honest judgment of your restaurant, as well as for all the technical information (location, hours, cuisine, atmosphere). Restaurants have their gripes on the fairness of Yelp, but Yelp isn’t going anywhere, so it’s better to address it than fight it.
Time commitment: 15 minutes/week
Mobile Usage: Over 40% of users access Yelp from a mobile device.
What to do: As one of the most prominent review sites, restaurants shouldn’t let bad Yelp reviews go unanswered. By opening a Yelp business accounts, restaurants can reply publically or privately to a sour review. Yelp lets businesses link their OpenTable accounts and create deals for customers that they can buy from the site. For a well-managed Yelp page, look at Ala Shanghai in Latham; most of the reviews are positive, and the few negative reviews have a personalized response and apology from the management.
There’s a quick run down of the three social media sites that your restaurant needs to be on. Check back later for some of the additional social media sites that you should keep tabs on.