How do you attract new customers to your cafe or restaurant beyond people passing by or who are already familiar with your shop? A good location, a unique and consumer-friendly environment, an alternate product offering, thoughtful presentation, and of course great food is a good start, but considering that people need to eat and cheap, fast food joints are everywhere, are your efforts to entice people into your shop enough?
What can you offer to entice people to come to you, and what online marketing strategy should you invest in?
In this article, The Complete Guide to Social Media Marketing for Cafes and Restaurants, I will talk to you about possible ways to answer these questions by utilising and engaging customers by increasing your social media marketing plan for restaurant and cafe online presence.
Is Social Media Right for Cafes and Restaurants?
As an independent cafe or restaurant owner, you may feel that social media might not be significant in bringing in new customer trade. Perhaps you consider it a financial waste. After all, your current customers come to you because you are local, convenient, offer a bit of banter and provide reasonably priced quality food. So why do you need to attract more customers?
Here are a few reasons why:
First and foremost, competition! Competition within the food services industry is immense. Not only do you have your local competitors who are actively undercutting you whilst delivering similar menu options, but you also have much larger chains to contend with, ones with well-known brands created through long-lasting, high impact marketing campaigns.
Secondly, you may think that simply flicking the ‘closed’ sign on the door over to ‘Open’ or switching the lights on is enough to pull customers in from off the street. Still, the truth is, that humans are creatures of habit, and unless there is an incentive offered, there is no way that you can progress from habit to routine. You want to get inside their head so that when they are hungry, rather than thinking, “let’s look in the fridge for something to eat”, you want your customers first thought to be an image of your freshly produced food which they can almost visually taste but would be hard-pressed to recreate at home.
So how can a social media marketing plan for restaurants and cafes help tackle these problems?
By virtually connecting to your desired audience using a social network, you have an incredible opportunity to promote your business brand and the offerings you serve.
Engaging with customers when they are not physically at your place is difficult as a cafe or restaurant because consumers have zero reasons to connect with you unless you provide an incentive. A similar problem for most businesses regardless of industry.
The Complete Guide to Social Media Marketing for Cafes and Restaurants shows you that being online is no longer sufficient, simply because everyone can now be online.
To overcome this obstacle, you need to implement and use the right tools to attract and engage your customer’s attention, encouraging them to connect with your network through interaction, advertising promotions, and special occasions and make it worth their while to communicate with you and your network through a tailored social media marketing plan for restaurant and cafes.
This guide will help you utilise your social media network as a powerful marketing tool, targeting your ideal customers, driving traffic back to your website for bookings, ordering and building relationships with your customers, and boosting return visits.
How to communicate with your customers
Start by considering how you will engage your customers through communication. Without customer engagement, any social activity is futile as engagement is an essential element of using social media for businesses.
Start by asking questions and getting honest opinions and feedback. The embarrassment barrier is broken down on social media, and people are more open with their views than when asked face to face.
Thinking of running a special evening such as Valentine’s, Mother’s or Father’s Day, ask your customers if it’s something they would be interested in.
Thinking of removing items from the menu or adding new dishes, ask the customers what they would like to see. It’s a much better option than simply adding a new dish and spending on ingredients only to find the customers are not interested.
By asking questions, you get to know your customers a lot better, allowing you to adjust your offerings to meet their needs and expectations whilst making them feel special, valued, and listened to, creating a strong relationship between you and your customer and boosting your profits.
Pay attention and feedback information
Besides making your customers feel valued and listened to, as we mentioned before, responding and feeding back information is vital as responding quickly to questions and answers reflects your customer service.
Pay close attention to what people like, comment on and share. Sometimes the most simple suggestion can be an absolute winner for creative ideas.
Get your customers involved
The more clicks, likes, and shares your posts get, the more value the social media platform will give to the post, which is why some posts ‘Go Viral’ simply because lots of people comment on it in a short period.
So how do you get your customers involved, liking and commenting? Create something that will incentivise them to click on the post. Run a competition, and offer a promotion.
There are numerous ways you can get the customers involved, get them doing something to help promote your brand unwittingly to all of their friends, family and online connections. Run a competition where they have to submit a photo or like and comment. If your cafe is pet friendly, have the customers compete in the cutest pet competition.
If running a competition, be smart with regards to the prize. Don’t offer anything which has no value to your products or business. For example, if you provide an iPad, the people entering the competition hold no value to you or your products; they want an iPad. In effect, you are doing Apple’s marketing for them – at a cost! Instead, offer a free meal, gift card or coupons redeemable in-store, offer anything, so long as it is your products and brings them back into your cafe or restaurant.
Digital marketing and in-store marketing crossover
As you build up your online social presence through promotions, rewards and all of the latest news, your main aim is to drive that social traffic to your website so that you can start collecting an email and contact list of all of your fans and followers, which is why your website is the ultimate marketing tool which you own and where your digital marketing plan comes into play, utilising web design, SEO, content marketing to further engage your customers.
All of the contacts you have generated on social media are owned by the social media platform. If you were to fall foul of the strict and cumbersome rules of the platform, or your page gets hacked, then all of those contacts are lost – and all of the work you have put in. However, if you have moved all of your fans and followers to your website, that list of contacts is now yours, forever, and become part of your email mailshots, further strengthing your customer relationship.
That’s great, but let’s be honest. No matter how many fans, likes and followers you generate, it is the footfall traffic, the physical body sitting at the table or ordering from the counter which pays the bills, and not all of the footfall traffic has come necessarily from your social activities.
Let’s focus on the ‘non-social’ footfall traffic; this is where in-store marketing can feed your online digital marketing. You have a captured audience from the moment they walk through the door, so make sure your menus, table-mats, receipts and so on have your social media advertised. Use QR codes to make it easier for people to connect.
The pub-chain Weatherspoons has this nailed down perfectly. They offer an App with discounts and offers which also allows you to order straight from the table, the menus have big, bold lettering leading you to get special deals online, posters on the walls whilst hiking to the toilets.
If you want inspiration for marketing done right, visit your local Weatherspoons pub.
From a marketing perspective, the App is my favourite; no more waiting at the bar to get served, find a seat and order from your phone for direct table service. You get rewarded with privileged status and better prices, they get your email, and the App downloaded on your phone. Whenever you scroll through your phone when not in the pub, your brain subconsciously registers’ Weatherspoons’.
The key with a social media marketing plan for restaurant and cafes is to get the balance right, be it a push marketing strategy where you aim to get your product in front of the customer or a pull marketing strategy where you try to bring your customer to your product.
For cafes and restaurants, the social media pull strategy generally outweighs the push strategy simply because your products are within your store. You need to bring the customers inside before they sample the goods.
Social media is precisely that. Social.
Inform and enlighten your audience about your products, and your products will sell themself!
Regardless of which strategy you choose, the key is getting the balance right and avoiding tacky pressure selling techniques. Constantly overloading the platforms with product after product or irrelevant posts negatively affects the algorithm and affects people’s behaviour towards your brand.
Use a social media calendar that prompts you when and what to post to ensure that you are not pulling too much. Use the calendar to track what’s working and what isn’t.
A push and pull strategy can work exceptionally well together when done right.
Social Should Be Fun And Engaging
First impressions count, and most people viewing your social posts will be first-time visitors to your social network which is why it is vital that your social media marketing plan for restaurant and cafes are well thought out and executed correctly.
When people visit your cafe or restaurant, they expect to see a clean and welcoming venue, be treated special, and feel valued. Every post you make should reflect these emotions of one sort or another through visual graphics, positive feedback, promotions and offers.
If your social feed offers nothing of interest other than the generic blurb – then why would people visit your page?
Before you start posting on social, I always 100% recommend that you first discover your brand, your theme and the message you want to get across. Keep it consistent because every post you make IS your brand.
Another way to utilise your social media calendar is to plan your post to capture trade and customers for upcoming events.
Valentine’s Day, the goal you have is to get people booking a table for two on the romancing occasion. There is no point in showing your Valentine offers on the Day or even the few days prior other than as a reminder. It would be best to heavily post about it a month before. Remember, we men are hopeless romantics with blinkers on. Unless we are directly told to click this button using arrows to point at the button, to book a table – we won’t!
In summary, by running an active social media campaign to help promote your cafe or restaurant, you can achieve many great things for your business, all with a positive return on your investment, be it to spend on a social media manager who has experience in running active campaigns, or simply to cover the time you have spent doing it yourself.
Remember, don’t just jump into a social media marketing plan for restaurant and cafes without first formulating a solid plan and forethought of the outcomes you wish to achieve. Without a solid plan and key indicators measuring your success, you will find yourself mindlessly absorbed and lost.
To measure your success monitor the following and adjust accordingly;
- % increase/decrease of engagement with your fans
- % of new likes and followers
- Monitor Google Analytics for traffic from social media.
- % of traffic Vs sales on your website.
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