Social Media Marketing Guide for Restaurants and Bars

Social Media Marketing Guide for Restaurants and Bars
January 28, 2020 Levi Olmstead

Digital media, mainly Instagram, paved the way for food vloggers and bloggers, bringing food enthusiasts and their discoveries to people around the world. 

According to Social Media Monthly, three out of four people try a new restaurant or bar based on what they see on social media. And the posts that have the most influence over new customers tend to be those shared by other patrons.

Consider Instagram, for instance. This social media giant has over 1 billion active users alone and has become one of the most popular social media channels. 

A favorite in the food industry, Instagram can prove to be a gold mine for restaurants looking to boost their sales and brand awareness. Add to the social media mix other platforms, such as Facebook and Yelp, and your restaurant, bar, brewery or food truck can benefit immensely from an excellent social media strategy. 

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Best Social Media Marketing Tips for Restaurants, Bars, and Breweries

In this article, we give you practical and effective best practices on how to execute on social media in your restaurant marketing campaigns, with specific tips for each major channel.

1. Create Profiles on All Social Networks

Never underestimate the power of a social media platform. While Facebook and Instagram seem like an obvious choice for restaurants, bars or breweries, other channels like Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter each have millions of active users. The smartest approach to spreading your name is to create profiles on as many networks as possible so that you can reach the maximum audience. 


2. Update All Contact Information and Branding

While it’s recommended to create accounts on all platforms, each social media channel serves a particular purpose so the content should reflect the interests of the respective audiences. You can post pictures of food and drink close-ups on Facebook and Instagram, but if you are looking to post on Snapchat, a short video clip will better catch the viewer’s attention. 

Your social media profiles serve as your virtual business cards. This means that when you create profiles for your business, you need to include all relevant brand, product and contact information. Even if you don’t plan on posting regular content to any of the channels, you still need to provide potential customers with accurate and relevant information about your business.


3. Publish Content Frequently

To keep your audience’s attention, posting frequency is key. The best frequency rate will depend on the type of content. For example, to get the maximum exposure for more engaging content like Instagram and Facebook stories, you may need to post multiple times a day but with a regular post, maybe once a day is enough.

Each platform will be different so experiment with what works best. And because the vast amount of content required can sometimes be overwhelming, think about how you can reuse content and redistribute it across your channels. 

Audiences love to get an insider or behind-the-scenes look at the business so any easy way to create content would be to document your day-to-day activities. For example, if you’re in the kitchen experimenting with a new recipe, snap a few pictures and share on your platforms. You can even try to engage the audience and ask them for their opinion on your new potential menu item.

4. Respond to All Comments

It’s no longer enough just to post images and catchy descriptions. Social media platforms have the ability to bring businesses closer to their audience. 71% of consumers that receive a good social media service experience from companies are more likely to recommend that brand to others. With numbers like that, it goes without saying how critical it is to stay active and attentive to customers on social media. 

Social media is also a great way to get reviews from customers, but along with the positive comes the negative. By staying active on social media and responding professionally and empathetically to negative responses, you can diffuse situations quickly. If done well, a negative review can even work in your favor as it shows your audience the importance you put on customer service.


5. Post at the Right Times

When running a business, timing is everything. People are on social media for a considerable amount of time each day, but with so many people and businesses posting content, the competition to be seen is fierce. Your post needs to be strategically timed in order to get maximum visibility and engagement. Dig deep into your audience demographics. What time of day do your posts reach the maximum audience or see the highest level of engagement? 

For instance, the times when food-based posts have been seen to get maximum engagement are when people are eating and checking social media. That includes 9am, 12-1pm, during dinner time and around 9 pm. Equipped with answers to these, you can maximize your results.

6. Run Social Media Contests

Some viewers are hard to engage. That’s where fun types of content like contests come to the rescue. Contests provide a great motivation and allow all viewers to join, converse and spread the word about your brand.

You can make them in the form of a quiz, where you share a food or drink related image and the audience has to guess the answer. Or you can simply ask them to share their favorite food/drink based image and specific hashtags. Contests and giveaways are a great way to add user-generated content to your profile. And if you encourage them to tag friends, you’ll definitely see a spike in social media traffic and visibility.

During these campaigns, be sure to capture customer emails to jumpstart your restaurant email marketing campaigns.


Facebook Marketing Tips

Facebook is one of the biggest social media networks today and has a diverse audience, making it essential for restaurants, bars and breweries. It also provides a variety of features that allow followers to engage with your brand. They can ‘like’ a profile to get content updates, share posts and even check into your location.

Here are five specific tips for using Facebook to market your business.

1. Use Facebook Ads

Even though Facebook ads cost money, when executed correctly, the ROI they bring in means you won’t burn a hole in your pocket. With the help of Facebook paid advertising, you can accelerate the results of your social media marketing strategy.

The platform allows you to create custom ad campaigns that can target specific demographics and interests. This ensures you are engaging the right audience. Facebook has an easy-to-learn interface and provides plenty of analytics so that you can tweak your ads for maximum results.


2. Utilize Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger has grown over the years from a simple chat function. With the introduction of chatbots, you can now automate some of your customer service elements.

The chatbot can handle routine flows and respond to frequently asked questions. The prompt and customized responses help to create a service-oriented image for the brand, which goes a long way in the food and beverage industry.

Once people start engaging with your profile through the chatbot, you can use their information to optimize your Facebook ads and even create exclusive newsletters that target people who have a high potential to turn into a customer.


3. Create Stories and Live Videos

Have you ever lost track of time watching videos on Facebook? Well, you’re definitely not alone. Videos are one of the most engaging forms of content that capture the attention of users. Interestingly, 80% of viewers prefer watching videos on silent mode.

With the newest features like stories and live video, you can bring viewers through a behind-the-scenes journey. Some ideas include sharing live from a special event or creating short stories that show the staff having fun during preparations.

4. Connect with Other Local Businesses and Events

Partnering up with local businesses can create a win-win situation when you both have a similar target audience. In addition to driving new traffic to one another through your individual social channels, you can combine your efforts into a larger community-focused event.

Many local markets have special events that showcase participating restaurants. To take advantage of the event and try to bring in more customers, you can offer discounts to patrons who add your restaurant’s check-in on their profile, post a review or share pictures of the dishes they ordered.


5. Respond to Facebook Reviews

Reviews are personal testaments shared by people who have visited your business. All restaurants receive good and not so great reviews.

But the great thing is that even though you might receive a poor review, it won’t necessarily deter potential customers away depending on how you handle the situation. The key is to respond empathetically to bad reviews and instill a sense of transparency on behalf of your brand.

In some cases, the customer might be easily appeased by acknowledging the poor experience and offering a solution going forward so that no one else experiences the same thing.

Another way to look at reviews is as feedback. Reviews are the direct voice of the customer so both positive and negative feedback will help you create better experiences for your patrons moving forward.

Related: Learn about how to manage customer feedback on restaurant review sites in 2020.


Instagram Marketing Tips

Instagram rapidly morphed into a gargantuan social media network from its early beginnings as an image sharing platform. With it being one of the most important channels for restaurants, bars and breweries, it’s crucial to stay abreast of any product updates and adapt your restaurant’s Instagram marketing strategy accordingly. 


Below are seven tips for making the best use of Instagram.

1. Post High-Quality Pictures

Since the platform was primarily built around sharing images, the pictures that you post must be of high quality. The images should be alluring and vibrant. With Instagram and phone camera filters, it’s easy to enhance your images. Also, make sure that you use the highest resolution for your pictures. This helps prevent your photos from looking distorted when edited.


2. Post Instagram Stories

With attention spans shrinking, the easiest way to grab the spotlight is with micro-videos. That’s where Instagram stories comes into play. Whenever you post stories, Instagram brings you to the top of the story feed, so the more stories you post during the day, the more chances you have of getting onto your followers’ feed.

You can also add “swipe up” links leading to your other social media profiles or webpage. This provides you with a simple yet effective way to redirect traffic. 

3. Create an Instagram Filter

Last year, Facebook, who owns Instagram, announced the launch of augmented reality (AR) filters. You can now create a custom AR filter for your brand or use a filter created by an artist. Adding filters is a great way to showcase your brand’s personality and can be used to focus on what sets your brand apart from the competition.

These filters are designed with stories in mind. You can also create filters for special events such as festivals, sporting events and even social causes. What’s more, since these filters are so new to Instagram, not many brands are using them yet so you’re able to get an edge over the competition.


4. Use Trending Hashtags

Hashtags are a pivotal part of Instagram. They help people search by topic and engage with each other. When you use trending hashtags, you automatically increase your brand’s visibility.

But using trending hashtags and engaging in trending topics is different. To ensure that you attract the right audience, you should engage in trending but relevant topics related to your business. Another way to gain traction is by creating custom hashtags for your business. You can use the hashtags across all your social media platforms to create consistency.

5. Connect with Influencers

These days, influencers are considered social media’s fairy godmothers when it comes to increasing traffic and followers. They have the power to bring their followers to your restaurant’s doorstep with a single post, so recommendations by influencers can go a long way. 

With the help of influencers and, in this case, food vloggers, you can tap into the potential offered by Instagram’s IGTV app. The videos you use for IGTV can also be used as an extension of your Instagram stories. There are many examples of brands you can look to for inspiration on how best to utilize IGTV. 

6. Have an “Instagrammable” Spot in Your Business

If you plan on creating a lot of content for your Instagram profile, a good idea in order to develop your brand and create a sense of consistency is to designate an area in your restaurant, bar or brewery for recording.

Use a unique restaurant interior design area that showcases an attractive or unique area of your establishment and make sure the lighting and acoustics are good for recording.


7. Share User-Generated Content

In this age of smartphones, you can easily encourage your customers to generate their own content on behalf of your brand and share it with your business’ network. Look for check-ins in your restaurant or bar and any associated content using your branded hashtags.

It’s easy for you to share this content through your brand’s account and your customers will love you even more for promoting their posts. Additionally, sharing user-generated posts gives your brand more credibility because the content is coming from an external source so it seems more authentic to audiences.

Snapchat Marketing Tips

Similarly to Instagram, Snapchat started as a medium for sharing short videos. Over time, it has become a business-friendly app, great for brands targeting teens and young adults. Below are three tips on how best to promote your business on Snapchat.

1. Create a Geofilter

Snapchat allows users to create custom Geofilter overlays that can be placed on top of photos and video clips to reflect your location. This means you can create a filter so your customer can add your location to their content. You can get great exposure because you’re able to customize your filter with a logo and other unique elements.


2. Have Snapchat Takeovers

A Snapchat Takeover is when a brand allows a social media influencer to “take over” the brand’s Snapchat account. It’s an effective way to promote your brand and menu.

Partner with an influencer associated with your brand and have them take over your Snapchat accounts by sharing snaps throughout the day of your restaurant. For example, you could partner with a guest chef and have them share stories and behind-the-scenes moments. 

3. Create Snapchat Stories

Snapchat stories is a great way to create fun, shareable content for your audience. You can even create a campaign where you feature your customers. For example, you can designate one day a week when you only put up images of your restaurant guests enjoying their meals and spending time with their friends and families in your Snapchat story.

Patrons will appreciate the spotlight and being acknowledged. You can ask them to talk about their experiences, as well as what makes them come back every time to eat at your restaurant.

Twitter Marketing Tips

Twitter is a microblogging platform where you can quickly communicate to your audience any marketing promotions or business news. Below are four tips for maximizing your audience reach through Twitter.

1. Interact and Tag Local Businesses

Engaging and partnering with local businesses shows that your business is community-focused and well-respected among other brands. Additionally, everyone benefits from each other by bringing more people to their respective Twitter accounts. When other businesses promote and interact with your brand, it increases credibility and creates an inclusive feeling that audiences want to be a part of.


2. Jump on Trending Hashtags

Following hashtags and relevant conversations enables businesses to engage with people. You can get on top of trending keywords and hashtags using social media management platforms like Hootsuite. Tools like these help you track relevant tweets so that you can participate in conversations and cash in on the trending hashtags. 

3. Give your Twitter a Personality

One of the best examples of an engaging and memorable twitter account full of personality is Wendy’s. Their tweets are funny, sarcastic and prompt, which makes users believe that they are engaging with a person rather than a brand. This humanization of a brand creates more relatability and influence compared to generic brand posts.


4. Retweet your Followers

Twitter provides a unique platform for building relationships with businesses as well as followers. To be effective with your social media marketing, you have to be attentive to what people are tweeting. Wherever possible and appropriate, favorite the tweets from your followers or retweet them.

If a follower praises your business, make sure to retweet it, like it and engage in conversation. At the same time, if it’s a negative tweet, don’t let it go unattended. Reach out to the user to try to understand why they had a negative experience at your restaurant. With the right response, you can potentially convert a dissatisfied user into a happy one.

YouTube Marketing Tips

The immense success YouTube stars have been able to achieve is proof that you don’t need to be Steven Spielberg to make videos that impress your audience. All you need is some basic equipment (even just using your smartphone can work) to create relevant and engaging video content and a plan on how to execute. Below are three ideas on how to promote your business on YouTube. 

1. Create Videos and Cross-Promote on Social Channels

The best example of a brand that’s been able to scale using “snack-sized” videos is Tasty. Their videos are simple, short and often don’t even have voice-overs. They simply just add background music and share recipes. Such is the power of good video content.

The videos that you post on YouTube can be longer in length and you can cut them into smaller pieces so they can be used for other social media channels that only allow for short-form content, like Instagram. 

2. Create Tutorials and How-To Videos to Grow your Subscribers

World-renowned chefs such as Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver have their own YouTube channels where they share recipes, food hacks and tidbits of culinary knowledge. You can use a similar approach where you can feature your chef showing your audience how to make a certain dish or tutorials on cooking techniques.


3. Share Exclusive Event Videos and Footage

Whenever you host a special event like a party or fundraiser, make sure you capture pre-, live, and post-event footage that you can share on your YouTube channel. These types of videos showcase the possibilities for your business and even act as a virtual selling pitch for prospective customers looking to book venues.

If your restaurant or bar hosts open mics, karaoke nights or other fun types of events, this type of content helps build your brand as the place to be on a Friday night. 

The Importance of Social Media for Your Restaurant, Bar, or Brewery

You’ve now learned about the best practices for social media marketing and why it’s so important for restaurants, bars, and breweries. Although there are an enormous amount of social media networks now utilized by audiences all around the world, understanding your target audience and where they go online is key.

Once you figure that part out, you’re on your way to developing a comprehensive and cohesive social media marketing strategy. If you are a complete beginner when it comes to this type of marketing approach, start small with just one or two social accounts and grow as you learn and become more comfortable.

A few additional marketing resources for restaurants, bars, breweries, and other small businesses: