Restaurant Marketing | 4 Ways to Build an Online Community

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A restaurant marketer is taking a photo of a dish for social media.

Restaurants are built around social activities. People attend brunch after Sunday church, grab drinks for a big game, eat dinner before a movie. It makes sense that your restaurant marketing strategy should involve social media. On social, more than 200 million Instagram posts are tagged #food every day!

In today’s digital world, building a social media community is crucial. Especially when 86% of social media users follow brands on social media and 88% of people are influenced by reviews and online comments. Social media presence and engagement can spread "word-of-mouth" about your restaurant, build your unique brand, and drive more traffic (and money) through your front door.

Here are some tips on how to get social:

1. Pick the platforms

As a restaurant, your top platforms will probably be Facebook and Instagram.


Although Facebook might not be the choice for the newer generations, it's still relevant today. Like having pepper in your restaurant, a social presence of Facebook is a given. Customers expect it to be available, and if you don’t have it, it may potentially reflect poorly on your brand. Facebook as a social platform can help you increase your customer interactions. It’s relatively easy to upkeep when compared to Instagram and guests are able to easily leave reviews, comment on images, and share posts


Chef Andoni of world renowned restaurant Mugaritz said: “Eating is sensorial. More than that, it’s about interpreting the information that your senses give you.” And, in the twenty-first century, people have started eating with their eyes. Specifically the use of Instagram as a research mechanism (especially for millennials).  As a platform that's solely driven by photos, Instagram is a great tool to provide potential guests with a glimpse into their dining experience.

Some restaurants are diving into the food-photo trend, changing their menu to be more photogenic on Instagram. In these cases, Instagram influencers are also a great avenue to freely promote your restaurant. This doesn't mean  influencers should come to your establish and demand freebies. Rather you should be monetizing off the photos they take. Maybe you have an interactive dessert that photographs well. If people come to try it and post a photo, it's free word of mouth marketing!

Another way to enhance your restaurant's Instagram presence is by creating graphics using royalty-free images. Selecting high-quality images can complement your own photos and create a visually appealing feed that attracts potential customers.

Depending on your demographic, your restaurant should have an Instagram where you can share photos of your food, atmosphere, and events.

2. Engage, engage, engage

The magic of social media is in the name: it’s social. People can communicate reach others who, before social media, wouldn’t have been accessible. Engagement is important, and it goes both ways (1 in 4 people are annoyed when you don’t respond to them). When someone comments on an image or writes a review—whether good or bad—you should respond. With social media, people expect better customer service.

To engage with users in an authentic way, Sprout Social advises, “Approach social media like you would a group of strangers at a party. Sprinkle tidbits about yourself while mostly engaging with other people. Engagement posts focus the conversation on your customers.”

3. Be relevant...but not overwhelming

Beyond pure engagement, people care about what you post. 41% of people will unfollow a brand that doesn’t share relevant information and 57% are annoyed with too many promotions by brands. Creating posts related to holiday traditions or hot trends can help make your restaurant social media more relevant in the eyes of users. Another good way to keep your content fresh while also promoting your business, is the rule of thirds (1/3):

  • Sales posts: promoting the business  
  • User & content posts: leverage user-generated content, local events, thought leaders, etc.
  • Brand posts: personal brand stories like customer reviews, funny jokes, quotes, chef-features, and food

4. Create spaces that will encourage photos

Social media efforts shouldn’t focus solely sinking virtual customers, but creating an interactive experience for customers in-the-moment. Decorating your restaurant with unique signs, wall decor, and "Instagrammable" backdrops can encourage your visitors to take their own photos to share on their social accounts. In short? It's an opportunity to organically grow your word-of-mouth with user-generated content. For inspiration, check out the most instagrammed restaurants in the United States.

We hope these tips help you grow your restaurant business, need more tips on running a smooth restaurant operation? Check out our guide to technology!

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December 2020


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