In recent years, you’ve no doubt noticed that after you serve a patron their food and before they take a bite, a step has been added to the dining experience — taking a picture of the food and posting it on social media. #Foodie photos are some of the most popular on sites like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. But social media is more than a place for your patrons to document their meals.
According to the 2019 Restaurant Success Report, 63% of restaurants use social media to promote their venue, making it the most commonly used marketing strategy. So, if you’re not on social media, now’s the time to jump in because your competitors and patrons are already there.
Ideally, you’d create a social media strategy that includes posting on all platforms. However, not everyone has the bandwidth for that or the funds to hire a social media marketer. If you only have the resources to support one social channel, which should you choose?
The long answer is it depends on a number of things such as how old your average customer is, which social channels they’re using, how often you have time to post, and your ability to support great photography — or at least take decent pictures in well-lit areas. The short answer is Facebook.
According to data from Modern Restaurant Management, 49% of people search Facebook to find restaurants. And TrackMaven’s Restaurant Industry Benchmarks Report states that Facebook remains the most popular social media channel for restaurants, garnering 2.8 million page likes — a number no other social channel can come close to.
In addition to a larger audience, Facebook has more features and free tools to help you market your venue. With a Facebook page, you can post content, images and video to your followers; privately message individuals; allow followers to make a reservation; create and invite your followers to events; and run paid ads to grow your audience.
You can also upload menus, set your hours, share popular times to visit, identify cuisine types, provide your meal price range, suggest services like “good for kids” and allow customers to write reviews (be sure to respond to them because 88% of people are influenced by reviews and online comments).
Although Facebook is still the most popular, more and more restaurants are dropping it in favor of Instagram, an increasingly popular platform for food and beverage posts. In fact, a recent study from Fundera showed that 69% of millennials photograph their food and post it to social media before eating. What’s more, Instagram is the No. 1 social media app for engagement with restaurant brands. So, although Facebook will get more eyes on your content, users might engage more on Instagram.
Though not one of the most popular social media channels overall, Yelp can be a very powerful tool for restaurants and bars, and it requires very little effort to maintain. Find your restaurant —because let’s face it, it’s probably already listed — and claim the page. You can then upload menus and photos, set your hours and location, and respond to reviews. Yelp can also link to OpenTable and Seamless so that you can manage your reviews, reservations and delivery orders in one place.
Regardless of which channel you decide to start with, be sure you have a strategy in place to ensure your efforts are worthwhile. And check out our tips for creating a strong brand voice on social media.