7 Keys For Your Restaurants 2010 Social Media StrategyBy Jaime Oikle, Owner & Founder of RunningRestaurants.comDid you get social media in 2009? It certainly blasted onto the scene full force with theemergence of Twitter in the media. That, plus the proliferation of other online sites andmobile tools have made social media more prominent in consumers daily lives.Don’t fret if your restaurant has just begun to test the waters or hasn’t had a chance to getinvolved in social media yet.The New Year is a great time for new initiatives and arguably social media should be anintegral part of your marketing strategy for 2010.So what can make the most difference for you restaurant? Here are 7 keys to help youmaximize social media for your business in the upcoming year.1. Focus on the Big Three First – Time is a precious commodity as a restaurant owner.You need to get the most bang for your buck and you’ll do that by focusing your effortson the three biggies of social media: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Each has anenormous user base already familiar with and actively participating with their site. Makesure you get an account on each of these services, or in the case of Facebook, a Fan Page.Between sharing videos on YouTube, posting updates on Facbook, and sending tweets onTwitter, the majority of your social media time and effort should be concentrated on thesethree sites.2. Create a Personality & Be Worth Talking About – As you’re setting up youraccounts you need to really think about the “personality” you’ll be putting forth with yoursocial media efforts. If you’re a serious person, then stick with a serious tone andapproach in your posts and language. If you’re fun and irreverent, then let that comethrough.The point is with social media there is no wall to hide behind. In fact, the true allure ofsocial media is that it can offer an inside peek at people (and businesses) that isn’tavailable in any other form of media. This affords a tremendous opportunity toindependent operators to let their uniqueness and differences set them apart from biggercompetitors in their marketplace that may have to stick to a corporate script.To really make social media work for your restaurant business you need to be willing toput yourself out there – your face, your name, your personality and your brand – that is
what will make you worth talking about and make your followers and fans want to shareyour messages with their friends.3. Show Pictures & Tell Stories – A common first question from operators is “what willI post to these social media sites?” Owners can be overwhelmed with this question untilthey start to break down their business and what they do on a daily basis. Do you havedaily specials? Tweet about them on Twitter. Post a picture of your best special item onFacebook. Are you having a Super Bowl party? Shot a short video about it and post it toYouTube. Share the highlights on Twitter and Facebook. Celebrating a special event?Offer a wedding venue? Chef like to ham it up on the camera? Staff members have ajoke or funny story to share? What ends up being the case once you get the hang of it iswith so many potential items to share, which are the best ones to share with youraudiences, when and how often.A key point is not to have your social media posts be 100% promotional in nautre. Youneed to balance your communication between sharing, selling, listening and havingconversations. To tell the truth, this balancing act is probably the most difficult skill ofmanaging your social media efforts. Social media is radically different from traditionalforms of advertising and marketing, so take great care with your communicating style andmessaging.4. Integrate Into Your Marketing – Marketing is a big and important bucket for yourrestaurant. Social media should only be a slice of your overall marketing efforts. Justhow big a slice will depend on your particular operation and budget considerations. Thekey is that all of your marketing should be integrated. Your table tents should talk aboutyour Facebook and Twitter accounts and invite customers to follow and talk about youthere. Your takeout menus and business cards should do this as well. You should alsouse your social media accounts to drive other marketing goals of your restaurant such asgrowing your customer email list or birthday database. Don’t forget to crosscommunicate messages across the web, in the restaurant, via social media, and anyexternal ads or promotions that you do.5. Test Marketing Offers – Social media is a great place to test a marketing program oridea. For example, a special happy hour promo can be posted at 4pm on Facebook andTwitter for all of your followers and fans to contemplate. Or what about a TwitterTuesday promo with a secret word to receive a special promo. Make the promointeresting. Have fun with it. It doesn’t have to be a huge discount as much as it has to bespecial and/or unique for your customers. Compare those sorts of instant results with themore traditional cycle of preparing a postcard campaign. It just shifts everything on itshead.6. Social Media Events – This can be interesting because of what technology people callthe “network effect”, which states that the more people connected to a network the morevaluable and powerful that network becomes.
Take Facebook for example – once you have your Facebook Fan page going, what if youhosted a Monday night Facebook Fan Only Dinner Promotion. First, your current fansare going to feel excited about it. Second, you’ll likely get new fans as your current fanstalk about it to friends. Thirdly, and most importantly, after the event (assuming you puttogether a great night) a large number of those Facebook Fans are going to share stories,pictures and news about your event. And the average Facebook user has 130 friends tiedto his or her account. The social leverage of such an event can be quite powerful. Andwe all know the impact of positive word of mouth, right?7. Listen to Your Customers and Interact – Another gigantic differentiator of socialmedia is the ability to easily talk, listen and interact with your customers. John posts acomplaint about dinner on Friday night via Twitter. Well, you’ve got a chance torespond and recover the relationship. Sally’s hosting a bridal shower and checking outvenues. Nice opportunity to informally talk about your place. You want to find out whatbeers are the local favorites. You post the question on Twitter and Facebook and start aconversation. Brad and Jim are chatting about the best place to watch the big game. Youdon’t even have a TV in your place, but you recommend your favorite spot. You canbond and create relationships in this manner via social media. You can create the kindsof loyalty and recognition that wasn’t quite possible before.Social media offers an opportunity for your restaurant to reach out and connect with bothnew and existing customers in a powerful way in 2010. Make social media an importantpart of your overall marketing efforts for the year and maximize the best that socialmedia has to offer to drive business for your restaurant.***RunningRestaurants.com, the ORAs Social Media Expert, is a "how-to-get-results-now”website for restaurant owners and managers focused on content to help make restaurantoperators more profitable and successful. Through the "Members Only" section of theORA web site, members can view other helpful Social Media articles and also purchase arecording of a seminar "Social Media For Restaurants" at a discount price of $19. Justlog in to the "Members Only" section at www.ohiorestaurant.org and click on the ORASocial Media Expert logo.***Potential callout box for story:What is social media?Social media is an umbrella term for websites (or mobile apps) that are based on userparticipation and user generated content where people share opinions, insights, andexperiences with each other. Popular examples include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter,YouTube, Flickr and blogs.***
Potential call out box for story:Is social media just a fad?Most definitely no. While social media will continue to evolve in how people andbusinesses best utilize it, the technology and concept behind user-shared content is hereto stay.