If you own a business, especially a restaurant in today’s competitive markets, then a good social media strategy is a must. Did you know that there are over 200 million posts tagged #food and 23 million tagged with #drinks, food and beverage photos on Instagram? Dubbed food porn it is the one of the most popular type of content on the social media channel.

In addition, almost 90% of people are influenced by reviews and online comments. If you are not on any social media channels now is the time to get started.

Here’s your guide to social media marketing for restaurants.

What social media channels should I target?

The most popular social media channels for restaurants are Instagram and Facebook. Instagram is great for those food porn pictures to tempt new customers to try your food and Facebook is a perfect place to share your business profile and all pertinent contact information. Yelp for customer reviews and OpenTable for reservations are also popular sites for restaurant owners.

When filling out your profile on any of these sites, make sure to include all important information like your hours and contact information right there on your profile. You don’t want to make people have to dig for information about you.

Let’s look at some of these social media channels a little more closely.

When you set up a Facebook Page for your restaurant, there are several beneficial features that you should take advantage of including:

  • A Book Now button so you can accept reservations
  • The ability to upload your menu
  • The ability to indicate cuisine type, and whether or not you are kid-friendly
  • If you have multiple locations, you can add all of them and the closest one will also pop up for each customer
  • You can even create location-based Facebook ads

Instagram has become a fast favorite social media channels because everyone loves sharing photos and it is the perfect place to showcase colorful photos of your dishes that will have all your followers salivating.

When you set up an Instagram Page for your restaurant, beneficial features that you should take advantage of include:

  • The stories feature and live videostreaming features allow you to really engage your followers with fun updates on what is happening at your restaurant.
  • Image and video editing tools give you better control over what you present to your followers. You always want to put your best foot forward.

As for Twitter, as one of the top breaking news sources, you want to make sure you have a presence here. If you have a food truck, it is a great place to announce special events and changes in your business hours or daily specials. It is also a great place to post funny commentary and share interesting articles. Just make sure they are relevant to who you are and won’t offend some of your followers.

Twitter features to check out include:

  • Live-streaming videos
  • Real-time reply, retweet and like counts
  • Direct messages to have a private conversation with any of your followers
  • Pinned tweeting for tweets you want to highlight or showcase
  • You can also create to-do lists and read-later lists to help keep you better organized

How to build a social media presence?

You need to be strategic about how and what you post if you want to build a strong media presence. Avoid posting only promotional posts that only boast about discounts you are offering or specific products or dishes you are selling.

Posts that engage your followers are always more effective. Ask questions, start conversation threads and really listen and connect to your followers whatever platform you are on.

Some promotional posts of course are necessary. Just make sure to make the photos as visually attractive to your customers as possible. You want them to be excited about stopping by for a visit.

Besides asking a question, other ways to engage your customers are to ask for customer opinions on new products and share followers’ posts.

It is also a good idea to schedule posts on a regular basis. Look at the patterns of traffic that come into your restaurant and use that to determine when the best times to posts will be.

How to create content that will go viral

What will and what won’t go viral is not always easy to tell. Sometimes you can be caught off guard by the response to one of your posts, photos or videos. And it can be both positive and negative reasons that something goes viral. Of course, you only want positive viral content or it will hurt your restaurant tremendously.

While there is no definite algorithm for creating viral content, special content like the following could definitely help:

  • Collaborate with another chef or bartender on a special meal. Choose who you partner with carefully. It should be someone you enjoy working with and respect and trust and someone who also has a strong following.
  • Invite social media influencers to come visit your restaurant and post about their experience and their favorite dishes at your place.
  • Users love the Go live feature on most social media channels. Use that to your advantage and go live with parties and special events and when you want to announce big promotions or upcoming events. You can even set up a Q&A session with your chef to show followers how to make certain popular dishes at home.
  • Use hashtags to generate some excitement about your posts and campaigns. Popular ones for restaurants are #foodporn and #foodie.
  • Participate in already trendy topics like local weather or a big news event. Just make sure it is relevant to who you are and it won’t backfire by upsetting some of your followers.

Collect as much data as possible

Whenever you implement social media marketing strategies, you also need to also analyze how well your strategies are working so you know when they need tweaking. Do some research on programs like Sprout Social’s Group Reports that will create a report for you of all important analytics.

Social media marketing is essential for success for all restaurants. Make sure you spend time every day engaging your followers on all your social media channels and doing as much marketing for your restaurants as possible.