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29 Nov 2010

Go Ahead, Push that Restaurant’s Social Media Buttons

November 29, 2010Social Media

Opening your restaurant was exciting. You’ve created a website to help promote it and bring patrons through your doors.  And, of course, because everybody else has them, youRestaurants should utilize social mediar site is accessorized with Twitter and Facebook buttons.  If visitors click on them, what will they find?  Lots of tempting information about your restaurant that will entice them to dine with you?  Or will they find a barren wasteland of no tweets, no followees and 4 followers?  This scenario could apply to any type of business.  It’s just really kind of lame to have the buttons and not use them.

I confess; I’m a foodie.  I enjoy cooking and trying new restaurants.  But most of all, I enjoy listening in and participating in the banter between chefs, owners, diners and staff.  The metropolitan area I live in has a close-knit culinary community that is quite interesting to follow.  I “Like” everyone on Facebook and follow them on Twitter (@AZArdie).  I’m creating Twitter lists of food and fun things to do in my area.  I’m also an avid reader of the food section of the local newspaper and local magazines.

Recently, one lucky new restaurant was featured in our newspaper as an “Excellent” place for the particular food that they featured.  Then they had a full page write up in a local magazine touting them as one of the “Best New Restaurants.”  The article mentioned that they have a very specialized chef and a certification from a trade organization in Europe.  I was impressed, so I navigated to their website and there were the buttons.  First I went to Facebook and they were pretty active up until a few weeks ago.  Twitter on the other hand…  Yep, I heard crickets and saw a tumbleweed go by when I went to their account.  They are really missing out.  An active Twitter account can raise awareness, induce interaction with customers, drive traffic to your site and help bring hungry people inside your establishment.

Here are 5 pieces of advice I would give them to get started, if they were to ask me:

1.      Don’t be afraid, Twitter may have a sharp beak, but it won’t bite.  Get acquainted with it, learn the lingo.  Here are 10 Guidelines for Sparkling Twitter Conversation, along with a great little Twitter glossary.

2.      Follow unto others as you would have them follow unto you.  In other words, you’ve got to follow a lot of people in order to get followers.  It’s the old tit for tat.  Here are some resources for finding others in your niche:

3.      Fill out your Twitter profile completely, and be sure to include a link to your site.  List lots of fun details about your restaurant.  Create your thumbnail image, and download a nice picture of your place or your food for the Twitter background.  Don’t use the default thumbnails or backgrounds.  This sends out a message that you really don’t care.

4.      Get organized.  Using HootSuite is a great way to break down your streams into nice visual columns, view when you’ve been mentioned in a tweet, see your direct messages and your sent tweets.  You can also schedule tweets.

5.      ”I don’t have anything to tweet about.”  Want some cheese with that?!?  Of course you have things to tweet about.  Sometimes tweet about your restaurant; what the special is, when happy hour is, etc.  Have your special chef tweet about where he or she was trained and other interesting aspects of the job.  Join in conversations with other restaurants, chefs and your diners. Use Twitpic to share photos. Include links to interesting sites. Get creative, engage your audience.  Become a Twitter Ninja.  Or, if this all sounds too daunting, using social media marketing services may be the way to go.

Creating a personality and gaining a large following on Twitter takes time, but it can be well worth the effort.  As part of a restaurant’s marketing plan, it’s a great way to have personalized conversations with your customers like you never could before.  If you’ve got the buttons, someone’s going to push them and you better be ready to serve it up.

2 Comments

  • Nick Stamoulis Nov 30, 2010

    So important for a restaurant to include social media efforts in their marketing plan. After creating full profiles, it is key to be active every day, keep your selves out there in the eyes of current and potential customers and your efforts will pay off.

  • April Dec 15, 2010

    I love following local business, especially restaurants, on Twitter when the whim hits me…. And of the dozens I follow, none do an effective job of using it. Of those that do ever post on it, most opt for fluffy marketing puns, instead of things I would be interested in… like an announcement of when the seasonal menu changes, and talking up the new dishes. Or mentioning when the hours change. Or even the occasional “it’s a Friday night and we’re surprisingly slow! No reservations necessary.” tweet would be nice.