Big brands and independent businesses alike have, at the very least, made a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For over a decade, the benefits of social media marketing have become more and more apparent. Modern research shows that 75% of people have purchased something because they saw it on social media.
While its usefulness is apparent, the best practices for social media marketing may not be. How do you actually build and retain a following? Which common mistakes can be avoided? What advertising methods work on which networks? There are a lot of important questions to address.
So, whether you’re just starting to create your social media pages, or you’ve had them for a while but want to see better results, here are 5 modern tips that bars and restaurants can start using today.
1. Advertise your pages in-house
We’ll start somewhere fairly obvious, but incredibly important—you need to advertise in the real world that your social media pages exist. More than putting a Facebook/Twitter icon on the bottom of your takeout menu, these ads need to be enticing and strategically situated with the goal of being noticed and read. Too often, restaurants are missing out an a potentially large following simply because their patrons don’t think to look them up online.
It’s almost ironic—everyone assumes a business is on Facebook, but don’t think to look them up unprompted, even if they like the brand. The best way to promote your social media pages in-house is on your TVs with digital signage. Dynamic and bold, digital signage has been shown to be far more effective than traditional print advertising.
Instead of wasting your screens with the same thing every other restaurant/bar is playing—a muted news channel, The Food Network, etc.—you should be using at least some of your screens for infotainment. If quickly gaining more social media followers is your goal, pair the promotion with a discount or coupon: “Like us on Facebook and have a dessert on us!” These kinds of ads put an immediacy to your call to action and reward your guests as soon as they follow.
2. Variety is the spice of “likes”
A common mistake many brands make is in overloading their followers with brand-promotions, ads, and even special offers. While people enjoy the occasional online coupon, one study shows that 57% of them become annoyed when they only see this type of post on their feed.
Sharing ads and branded content is great, but it’s just as important to share content that isn’t directly related to your business, as well. For bars and restaurants, this may be tricky, but if you dig into who your patrons are, what they like, and how you can creatively tie your brand to the content, your followers will appreciate engaging with something other than ads.
Maybe there’s a popular band or artist that’s doing a tour in your city—sharing an article about their appearance could be great, especially if they’re being featured in your venue some night. If your business supports a charity or cause, posting updates and articles covering that organization makes for some great content that boosts your brand’s image. Perhaps there’s a trend in the food and beverage industry you can ask for people’s opinions on, like the rise in popularity of plant-based meat products, etc. Make sure to avoid dramatically polarizing opinion pieces, of course, we don’t want anyone getting infuriated or offended in the comments.
If you make a mistake and post something off-brand or completely unrelated to your business, the comment section will let you know. Consider deleting the post or apologizing to disgruntled commenters, but the most important thing to do is learn from your mistakes and adjust your social content strategy accordingly.
3. Don’t ignore the negatives
Now it’s time we address one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of social media marketing: negative comments.
The most important piece of advice here is to not ignore negative comments. Every comment is like a review of your brand—and the actual reviews are even more integral to your business’ public image. Whether you’ve received a full-fledged negative review or a spiteful comment in a single sentence, they carry the same weight, and each should be addressed in a timely fashion.
Oftentimes, people comment or review negatively when they feel like they haven’t been heard. Responding to them swiftly, and with empathy, puts them more at ease and can even turn their feelings around more often than not.
Always respond publicly first, to show others that you’re just as concerned about any unfavorable experience. And if the conversation needs to continue, suggest moving it to private messaging or email.
Don’t lose your cool. Even when it seems infuriating or unfair that someone is reacting the way they are, getting upset will only further any negative views toward you and your business. Try your best to approach the situation and do what it takes to correct the mistake. Offer them a reason to come back, maybe a free drink or dessert, and let them know this isn’t the kind of experience they would normally have in your establishment.
Never delete a negative comment. People will notice if/when this happens, and they will come back more fiercely than before. There's no getting away from it, you just have to deal with it.
4. Use different channels for different content
In a sense, each social media site speaks its own language. Instagram, for example, has a vastly larger number of young users than Facebook does, and the content shared on it is consumed and engaged with differently—so you don’t want to use the same strategies with one as you would the other.
Facebook almost works like a conglomeration of many other sites. Pictures, articles, status updates, and reviews will all exist simultaneously here. Your page will be a go-to for new potential customers to see what’s on the menu, what the atmosphere is like, and what others have to say about the venue. Restaurants focus a lot of their efforts here because the age range of the average user fits with the kind of audience they want to draw; legal drinking age and with an income that allows for dining out more frequently.
Instagram is clearly image heavy. It’s a great place to share more personalized content. Posts about your staff having fun, guests being blown away by their huge meals, or quick videos of special events you’re putting on are great ways to share a bit of your company culture. Considering there are currently over 300million posts with #food attached to them, prompting your guests to snap and share their meals on this platform is a great way to spawn user-generated content (UGC). UGC isn’t just a free way to get a bit of advertising, it also connects patrons with brands through their engagement with the space, driving brand loyalty within them.
Twitter allows you to let your quickly share relevant content with a single click of a retweet button. Someone tweeted how much they like your new special? With a quick retweet, they’ll not only feel appreciated, but others will get to see the good vibes being sent your way.
Humor is very much appreciated on Twitter—while staying on-brand, of course. Look no further than Wendy’s or Burger King’s Twitter page for some funny posts and friendly brand rivalry. Whatever voice you decide to cement for your brand, however, just make sure it’s authentic and consistent. Don’t jump on a trend just because it’s going viral or use slang that you think “the kids” are using.
LinkedIn may be a viable avenue if you’re looking to attract the business crowd and/or share updates about the company. It’s the platform to share the professional side of your business. Partnerships, support for various charities, core values and mission statement-related articles can show just how seriously you are about the industry. It’s also a great place to find and share relevant articles that pertain to your company.
Of course, I’ve only briefly touched on each main platform here. Digging deeper and examining the “language” of each site will familiarize you enough to eventually know exactly what you want to be bringing to each platform.
Advertising on in-house digital signage is an effective way to get your brand's social media pages some much needed attention.
When considering content for your pages, make sure to provide some variety in what you post, rather than only advertisements and promos for your restaurant/bar.
Never ignore or delete negative comments. Respond to them in a timely fashion and with empathy. Fix the problem to the best of your ability and let them know this is not the normal experience they would have. If needs be, ask them to continue the conversation in a more private form.
Make sure you're speaking the right "language" for each channel. Familiarize yourself with how they work and make sure your content fits the formats you'll be using. Take a look at how Control Play makes use of each network by following us on each here: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.