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Facebook Marketing for Restaurants with Content and Events

David Smania
by David Smania August 30, 2016
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In the first edition of our Facebook Marketing guide for restaurants, we looked at the importance of finding your voice and knowing your customers.  We also explored EdgeRank, and how to share your unique world through images and videos.  We then wrapped it up by talking about free restaurant marketing and exposure with Facebook Check-ins, along with one of the social giant’s latest services that restaurants can use to bring customers into the kitchen – Facebook Live.    Today, we continue on by covering content that engages your customers, hosting special events, and a few pointers on how to manage your page as part of your busy schedule.   Enjoy! (and please share)

 

Content that Engages

There’s a small pizzeria in Phoenix that consistently wins recognition and awards for the best pizza in the United States.   While there probably is no such thing as a “best pizza”, the product is spectacular and much better than most.   But what did this restaurant do over and over again?   They posted pictures of their pizzas with the hours of operation.

Is this fun and engaging?  Perhaps the first time.  But repetition is boring, and the page loses interaction and the ability to cut through the clutter. 

Instead, this restaurant could have created numerous backstories, not only showcasing the interesting history of the business and well-known owner, but also the special oven brought over from Italy, all of the amazing new ingredients used in various dishes, and anything that provides value for customers and members of their Facebook page.   People love stories.

Content posted by restaurants in particular should be rich, colorful, engaging, entertaining, and informational.   And best of all, the restaurant is the best place of all to showcase something truly unique.  There are many ways to approach this, but here are a few examples.  Keep in mind that the type of content must be weighed against the unique nature of the restaurant’s brand.

Special Menu Items.  

Facebook is a great way for restaurants to introduce special menu items.  But take it to the next level by telling an interesting story about the dish or ingredients.  People want to connect with something that feels good.  By providing more information on human terms, you make others feel better about the time and money invested while dining with you.  So tell your story.

Shared Recipes. 

There are two types of cookbooks.  Those that really want you to learn how to make interesting and delicious new dishes, and those that contain recipes and sub-recipes that are so complicated and time consuming, that it gives a increased appreciation for the restaurant.   No matter which bucket your recipes fall into, showcasing recipes brings the customer into the kitchen, teaching them about beautiful ingredients and interesting techniques.   Sharing this knowledge is a gift that customers will appreciate, regardless of the complexity of your recipes and the end result.    And remember - film them if possible so you can also post videos on your Facebook page and other outlets, like YouTube.

News and Reviews.  

Has your restaurant just won an award from the local restaurant association?   Have you been given an amazing review from a local food critic?    Celebrate your success by sharing this news through your Facebook page.   This extends to your suppliers as well.  Did your local winery just win a prestigious award in a tasting?   Celebrate them, share the news, and perhaps offer a Facebook-only bottle price as a “thank you” to members of your page.

Customer Appreciation. 

Most restaurants have their regular customers.  Don't take them for granted.  Celebrate their loyalty by saying “thank you” on Facebook, or posing for a picture together.  If the person is tagged, many others will see it as well.  Give them their favorite drink out of appreciation.

Special Discounts for Facebook Members. 

This can take many forms, but it can be as simple as post that says something like “We love our customers.  To prove it, just say Tuesday Love when your check arrives to receive 10% off your check total”.   Create fun promotions to show appreciation and drive more and more people to your Facebook page.          

Customer Feedback and Polls. 

Remember the “how are we doing” table surveys that nobody filled out unless they were upset?   We have much better ways for capturing customer sentiment through Facebook.  Make customers feel as though they are part of your journey by bringing them into discussions about your restaurant.  

Example - how would you feel if we adapted a no tipping policy and raised menu prices a bit to simplify the dining experience?   Or - which menu items do you miss the most from past offerings?   Or – what type of live music would you like to hear on Fridays?

Special Events

Customers want to feel as though they are part of something special.  Host events and send special invites to your best customers.  Engage your local farmers or wine makers for theme-focused dinners.   Invite guest chefs to bring people together for a cooking demonstration.   Take the show on the road, perhaps to your local farmer’s market where you can reach a broader audience.   Plan a special trip for your customers that they've never done before.   FnB Restaurant in Scottsdale plans a handful of trips each year to Rabbit Island, where everyone “hops” into a floatplane and flies out to a beautiful island outside of the city for a nice lunch and an amazing view.   Ideas like this are perfect opportunities to capture and share what makes your restaurant special and unique.

Facebook Live Event

As mentioned above, Facebook Live gained major traction recently with people and businesses going live with video broadcasts.   Why not take this to the next level and plan a live event at your restaurant?  Perhaps a cooking demonstration that involves customers?  Record it live and respond to comments and questions from people who couldn’t be there in person.  Share the video after the event on your Facebook page as yet another resource that your customers can enjoy.

Getting Started

If you’re just getting started, your page will have a handful of members, and this will grow fairly slowly in the beginning.  Don’t be discouraged, and keep sharing interesting, fun content as though you have a million page likes.  

After you’ve posted for a few weeks and built a page that’s intriguing and unique to your brand, it will be time to invest in Facebook advertising to reach members in your local area with the sole intent on driving “likes” for your page.   In fact, one of the advertising options places the “Like” button right into the ad itself. 

We do this to build social proof within Facebook.  Right or wrong, people will judge your page by the number of people who have opted in by liking it.   Thousands of likes equates to real consumer interest, which drives even more interest.   It’s like a busy restaurant - it must be good!   So invest the time and money early on to create a nice base of members to your page.

Managing your Facebook Page

“Social media management?  Bring it on!  I have plenty of time in my day” – said no restaurant owner, manager, or chef EVER.

I get it.  Time is scarce, especially someone who is practically married to the business and forgoes weekends and holidays to take care of customers.    However, we live in a new world where customers congregate and communicate online in places like Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and others.   You simply need to be present and engaged, sharing what makes you special and interacting with your adoring and sometimes not-so-adoring public.  

It will be tempting to outsource this process or delegate it to a new employee, but think carefully about this beforehand.  Whoever engages on social media represents your brand and everything you stand for.   This person must understand intimately what your restaurant represents, and know exactly who your customers are, so the message resonates to its fullest marketing potential.

A restaurant should dedicate at a minimum 30 minutes per day for Facebook and social media.   Some of the posts can be written the night before and scheduled to go out the following day through programs like Hootsuite and Buffer.   But never post the same thing twice, and try to get your staff to think “socially”, coming with interesting behind-the-scenes content that’s interesting and share-worthy.  

In Conclusion

It’s easy to forget that people buy from people.  You can have the greatest food in the world, but unless you’re the Soup Nazi, it all boils down to people, and how you make them feel with every encounter.  

Marketing your restaurant through Facebook allows you to reach out and interact with your customers on a more regular basis.  Best of all - it allows you to provide value to your customers, while projecting your unique voice.   By pulling back the curtains and sharing with the world what makes you unique and interesting, you connect on a more personal level and speak to your customers as a friend, instead of just another business.

Success

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