At the 2014 International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York, the Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum hosted a “What’s Hot & Not in the Social Media World for Restaurants,” panel led by online marketing expert Joe Gabriel of Fishbowl, and speakers Julie Yeagley, PR/Marketing Coordinator of JTP Restaurant Inc. in NYC and Farid Ali, Owner of Bogota Latin Bistro & Mojito Bar in Brooklyn.
Oftentimes managing multiple social media pages can be cumbersome. Here are some tips the panelists identified as “what’s hot” in helping to manage your restaurant's social media.
Use a social media management program, such as MoPro or Hootsuite, which allows you to link all your social media pages into one place and lets you program your updates to all pages at the same time or even on a programmed schedule. It also tracks brand mentions, analyzes social media traffic and allows you to efficiently track conversations and measure campaign results.
Create a content calendar for the year, or at least a few months in advance, to plan social media themes and content around holidays, events and special promotions in-line with your traditional marketing activities.
Engage your followers. Don’t just post the same Happy Hour Specials from 5-7 pm every day. Use photos, videos, and links to interesting articles or pages. Encourage conversations. Create fun twists on special promotions that encourage users to engage, share, and ultimately come into your restaurant and tell their friends about you.
Now that we’ve discussed what’s hot – let’s discuss what’s NOT. A few pointers from the experts on what not to do in social media:
Don’t be monotonous or boring. You want your brand to stand out from the crowd so do your research and analytics. What posts are getting the most likes and being shared? How many people are checking into your restaurant on Yelp and Foursquare? Aim to be individual and fresh with your content and create posts that encourage “likes and shares.” Tell customers exactly what you want them to do (i.e. Click here to “Like” and “Share with your friends to enter a chance to win!”).
Don’t delete negative or heated conversations on your pages. There’s always going to be haters on every social media page, but to minimize detrimental comments the best way is to respond with a little humor. It always wins. You can hide negative posts, but it’s better to be open and transparent and to dim the negativity lightheartedly. And your loyal fans will sometimes come to your defense and speak highly of you too.
The most important thing to remember is it’s all about building relationships and engaging in two-way conversation, talking with customers, not at them. People are more Internet savvy now and want to have their voices heard. Build it, and they will come.