If you’ve ever attempted to use social media to grow your audience and bring new people into your restaurant, you’ve likely felt depleted soon after.
Even if there’s a spike in online engagement, it’s hard to see any direct result of it in the restaurant, and even if you succeed, you have no idea how to maintain it.
This can often turn into a ‘Cry me a river’ moment:
Okay, that might be an exaggeration.
But you definitely felt like there’s no way to continuously win with your social media efforts.
Add to that the amount of time it takes to maintain a great, visually appealing, successful social media presence as a restaurant, and you’ve pretty much given up.
In this guide, we’re giving you eight easy to follow ways to increase not only your restaurant’s reach on social media, but also the rate at which you convert casual followers into raving fans and regular guests.
1. Focus on Food-Related Social Media Holidays
You know those popular social media holidays—also called hashtag holidays—like National Best Friend’s Day and World Emoji Day?
As it turns out, there are hundreds (!) of food-related social media holidays per year. When you look at the list from Sprout Social, you’ll see that close to half of each month’s notable social media holidays have something to do with food.
From beer and pizza through to lollipops, brownies, and spinach, there’s something for everyone.
There are even food-specific lists of social media holidays, so make sure to check out the one from OC foodies, which has a foodie hashtag for almost every day of the year.
Use these food-related holiday hashtags to showcase related meals from your menu or even announce new menu items coming soon. Remember to keep your photos and videos as visually appealing as possible!
For inspiration, look at this example from Dino’s Italian Restaurant on #NationalSpaghettiDay:
2. Promote Time-Sensitive Occasions With Facebook Ads
Getting organic reach with social media is a challenge for businesses of all sizes.
That challenge becomes particularly emphasized when the time comes to reach interested audiences on occasions such as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day.
Facebook ads are a smart way to go because they don’t require a huge investment and they provide a lot of control over who sees your ad based on their location and interest.
Even better: Facebook ads allow you to create multiple versions of your ads, which is even more useful if you want to advertise to more than a single audience. This allows you to perfectly tailor your message to each of the groups you’re targeting.
For example, if you want to bring people in for Mother’s day, you might have one ad that targets dads to bring their family in for a celebration, while another one aims to encourage people to treat their mom with a dinner.
Same goal, different message!
3. Run a Social Media Contest
A social media contest is among the easiest ways to showcase your restaurant’s personality and connect with your audience on a deeper level.
The ultimate goal is to get people to participate in conversations and engage with your social media posts more than they usually would
This, in turn, increases their affinity towards you and sparks a wider reach in their online social circles.
Your contest should be as simple as possible, especially if you’ve never done one before.
For example, you can get people to:
- Fill in the blank on the caption you wrote
- Answer trivia questions
- Tag their friend(s) that they would share the meal within the comments
- Submit their own photos
- Come up with a caption for your photo
From here, you can select the best, funniest, most creative photo or comment.
As prizes, you can give away anything from gift vouchers, free desserts, special discounts, or whatever else fits your budget.
A great bonus benefit to this strategy is jumper’s capability to turn these contest entry comments into follow-up chat sequence.
By doing this, you can easily turn casual competition entrants into new customers. To see how to implement this, check out strategy #6 later in this guide!
4. Use Hashtags in a Smart Way
No matter which social media platform is your favorite, we can agree that the easiest thing to do is come up with a generic hashtag, such as #food or #restaurant, and call it a day.
But there’s so much more you can do.
The problem with generic hashtags is that they don’t give your posts a long life on the hashtag feed, and they are exactly what their name says—generic.
Instead, you can go more specific and use hashtags that are specific to the content you’re sharing and to your restaurant. One example is focusing on the type of food you serve (so it’s not #dinner, but #vegandinner).
The great news is that you can research the best hashtags with a tool like RiteTag. Even its free trial provides many great ideas and options.
First, you can upload an image and get suggestions based on what’s on the image:
Alternatively, you can type in your most important words and get suggestions based on that:
The key here is to look at the legend in the left-hand side column that explains why certain hashtags are in different colors.
For example green means it’s currently trending, blue means it has a long life, and those with an Instagram icon are Instagram-only hashtags.
That’s pretty dope.
5. Work With Influencers and Food Writers
Social media influencers and food writers already have an audience that they have an impact on.
Research shows that almost three out of four customers have made restaurant or retail decisions based on Facebook comments and images shared by other users.
In other words—don’t ignore the power of influencers!
By partnering with the right people, you can expand your reach, attract new followers and engage them with your restaurant brand, and ultimately draw them to visit your restaurant or order from you.
Your influencer campaigns can take any shape that suits you. Here are a few ideas:
- Get an influencer to take over your Instagram account for the day, which they will share about on their own profile and attract their audience to follow along
- Partner with an influencer through a sponsored post
- Invite food writers and vloggers to a pre-launch menu tasting
Opportunities are endless. Remember, the audience fit between you and the person you’re partnering with is crucial, and smaller audiences often respond better than large ones.
One survey revealed that:
- 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions
- 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger
Make sure to start working with the right people before your competitors do.
6. Enable Social Commerce Ordering!
The impact of social media on driving online sales can no longer be denied.
However, the truth is that it’s still quite a fragmented process, with a lot of clicking to external websites and entering same information multiple times.
There’s also the challenge of taking the online side of the business offline, as is the case with dining out.
In other words, to make the most out of all the people you’ve attracted to your restaurant’s social media accounts, you need a two-step social media sales funnel.
The best thing about it? It’s not just an ecommerce thing. Thanks to jumper, you can make it happen for your restaurant, too, and get people to order (or pre-order) their food directly from social media.
To take it a step further, jumper also allows your guests to order for any dining option you’re offering: dining in, pickup, or delivery.
The days of digging for restaurant leaflets to call in and order food are long gone.
We reduced the number of steps it takes to order food—and do so easily wherever you share your ordering links on social media—down to only two:
- First, there is an action that shows the intent to order food, such as a comment or clicking on a button or a link
- Then, an automated messaging sequence takes the customer through the selection of menu options, amounts, dining options, and payment through direct messages
No complicated forms, going through multiple websites, calling a questionably current phone number, or any extra effort for your restaurant guest—or you.
All it takes to set up this automated food ordering checkout for your social accounts is:
- Creating an account on jumper
- Adding your menu, details, and add-ons
- Setting up opening hours, locations, and contact information
- Connecting social media accounts and preferred payment gateways
You can start with your most popular items in a matter of minutes.
The best thing of all—creating an account on jumper is free, and your first 10 orders are on us. Create your account here.
7. Get Followers to Cast Their Votes
Thanks to poll features on Instagram stories and on Twitter, you can now quickly and easily ask for your audience’s opinions.
The questions you ask can be anything from their favorite meal so that you can share more of it…
…or their favorite ingredient in a new menu item.
You can make voting as important/serious or as fun as you want to. All that matters is you write questions and available responses that align with the way you talk to your audience on any other occasion.
Most importantly, polls will create a two-way interaction that many brands, including restaurants, often lack.
Inspire engagement, show off your restaurant’s personality, and encourage responses that will get people to remember you and keep coming back to interact with you time and again.
And if you followed an earlier step and created an easy-to-follow two-step checkout funnel, you’ll convert casual interactions into new restaurant visitors with only a few clicks.
8. Offer Exclusive Coupons/Discounts to Followers
Finally, people love to feel rewarded for being connected with brands.
In fact, according to one study, 74% of active coupon users indicated that they would be likely to try a new brand if they received a coupon or a promotional code.
The best way to do this is by encouraging your existing restaurant guests to post their photos from your restaurant to their social media channels and either tag you or use a unique hashtag you’ve specified.
In exchange, offer them a free add-on to their next meal, a discount they can use, or any other exclusive perk that’s desirable, yet impossible to receive otherwise.
This way, not only will you spark customer engagement and suck your restaurant guests deeper into your restaurant experience, but you’ll also reach their friends, family, and other social circles that are most likely to trust these recommendations and positive experiences.
Social Media is Your Next Restaurant Promotion Channel
If you’ve been on the edge of putting extra effort into social media because you weren’t sure about returns, now it’s time to make the leap.
Intentional social media activity can attract people who will become your restaurant’s supporter for a long time to come, and with jumper, you can make sure that this reach and engagement turns into real-life restaurant orders.
Get your free jumper account and start attracting new guests today.