21 Jun Why Social Media Can Grow Your Restaurant’s Client Base
If you’re a local restaurant owner, we feel your pain. It’s been a tough year and a half dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and now that the nation is beginning to reopen, there is a lot of pressure to bring more clients through your doors. But, where do you spend your limited advertising budget? You could produce lots of fancy TV and radio ads or advertise in local newspapers and magazines; however, all of these channels are expensive and hard to track. Social media is an affordable channel that you can control. With a bit of originality, you can leverage social media to bring the diners back.
Three Facts About the State of the Post-COVID Restaurant Industry
The rampage from the pandemic hit the restaurant industry more than any other sector of the economy in 2020. The National Restaurant Association reports that sales were $240 billion below the pre-pandemic forecast before the pandemic hit. More than 110,000 eating and drinking places closed temporarily or for good. At the peak of the pandemic, over 8 million workers were laid off. The good news is that most of the bad news is behind us, and the economy is surging back despite particular food, equipment and labor shortages.
Benefits of Using Social Media for Your Restaurant
The days of depending on a good location and splashy billboard are over. Consumers are pickier than ever, and they look to their friends and neighbors to suggest new places to eat and drink. Today, social media networks connect hundreds of millions of computer users and are used daily to obtain news, shop for products and suggestions for places to eat. Social media users love to share restaurant reviews and often record videos and audio recordings — or podcasts — to make their opinions heard. You can spread the word by posting articles on social media sites like Facebook, post images on Instagram, videos on YouTube and reviews on Yelp. All of these networks are free to use. If you want to increase your reach, social media advertising is a cost-effective way to put your message in front of your future patrons.
How Viral Videos Can Put Your Restaurant on the Map
When social media users like something, they share it. When enough people share an article or view a video, it spreads like wildfire or, in other words, goes viral. While many people may not prefer that term, viral videos generate a life of their own, often becoming their own story. YouTube and TikTok are the two most popular video networks. When videos go viral, traditional media and cable networks create their own stories or broadcasts based on the social media phenomenons. Many people like to visit restaurants and share their thoughts with their video articles or vlog. You can create your own video blog or encourage your better customers to record their own. Some vloggers become so popular that they get sponsored by restaurant chains or food brands to cover their production costs.
Restaurant Marketers Can Create Their Own Social Media Campaigns
It’s easy to create a social media page or share messages on Twitter. It’s free to create an account and easy to write short posts about food-related topics. Direct promotion is often frowned on by social media audiences. Be sure not to make the mistake of being overly promotional and attract bad reviews, which can have a negative effect on your business.
Social Media Advertising vs. Traditional Media Advertising
There was a time when advertising your restaurant on the local radio station or newspaper guaranteed a way to bring in traffic. But today, social media has surpassed traditional media for researching products, and global social media ad spending has grown by 50% in a single year.
Social Media Attracts All Generations
There is something for everyone in social media, and market research shows every generation uses social media to some extent. Social posts and ads are most popular among millennials and the younger “Generation Z.” Creating fun, trendy posts will draw the attention of young, upwardly mobile consumers willing to spend their money and share their experiences.
Make Social Media a Part of Your Restaurant’s Growth Strategy
Now is the best time to start your social media campaign. You can begin with free posts to your inner circle of friends and customers and ask them to share your posts. Then, you can graduate to public posts and eventually to paid advertising, where you can target the types of customers you believe will be likely to patronize your eatery. Use fun, trendy topics and take great photos and videos of your food and ambiance. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and — most importantly — spread the word to anyone willing to listen. You never know; you may soon find your tables full with a line of people waiting outside your door sharing their experiences on social media.