It’s about more than being “liked.” As a restaurant owner, you’ve probably heard from social media professionals that social platforms, and “likes,” are the Holy Grail when it comes to success. But every time you try to deposit a “like” at the bank, it hasn’t gone well. Eventually, you probably determined there’s some correlation between social media popularity and your receipts, but you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that social media won’t directly affect your success. 

A more painful fact is most would agree that not having an active social media presence is certain to negatively impact your business. As such, you use social media to engage with customers and promote your brand, but it rarely does anything to improve your bottom line. 

If this is where you’ve evolved in your efforts to embrace social media, don’t beat yourself up. In this article, we’ll pay homage to the importance of a social media presence, but I’ll show you how to transform social media likes and engagement into revenue and how integrated WiFi and SMS marketing technologies can be used to help your trips to the bank feel more rewarding. 

Why Social Media Marketing Is Critical

Without question, social media has become an essential part of our daily lives, and as such, your customer’s daily life. With billions of people using these platforms every day, how can you not have a presence in this world? As a restaurant owner, social media marketing can help you “get in front of” your customers, reach potential customers and ultimately build your brand.

Social media marketing can help you in the following ways, but there are also some limitations to look out for:

  1. Increase your brand awareness: By leveraging social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even TikTok, you can reach a wider audience and increase your brand’s visibility. 
  2. Engage with your audience: Social media allows the audience to interact with you through commenting, liking posts, sending messages or participating in a poll. 
  3. Drive website traffic: By sharing links to your website on social media, you can drive more traffic to your site. 
  4. Generate leads (paying customers): Social media can provide a powerful platform for generating customer contacts through email sign ups.
  5. Access targeted audiences: Social media advertising is effective in gaining followers and reaching audiences with certain demographics or interests and behaviors. 


While all of the above are benefits of social media marketing, the real value of all your social media activity only happens when you have a strategy and set of tools that turn those numbers and followers into meaningful, engaged and loyal customers.

Transforming Social Media Likes into Paying Customers

While social media likes and shares are great for building brand awareness, they don’t necessarily translate into sales. 

Here are a few ideas to help you transform social media “likes” into valuable customers:

  1. Develop a lead magnet: A lead magnet is a free resource or incentive that you offer in exchange for someone’s contact information. This could be a special offer or freebie, but the key is that it requires a direct engagement. For example, “We are giving away wings! Join our loyalty program, and every Tuesday, receive free wings with your pizza. Join here (link).” 
  2. Run a social media contest: Social media contests are a great way to engage with your audience and while also driving more revenue through new customer acquisition. For example, “Click here to generate a unique hashtag and then get your friends to share it. The person with the most active hashtag will win a dinner for TEN of their friends.” The contest is a revenue driver since,  a) people are motivated to share your hashtag to many others, b) the winner becomes a customer; and, the best part, c) they bring 10 people with them which translates to 10 more customers.
  3. Use retargeting ads: Retargeting ads allow you to show ads to people who have previously engaged with your brand on social media, your website or who may be on your email contact list. By targeting people who have already shown an interest in your brand, you can increase the likelihood that they will become customers. 
  4. Collect reviews: Sharing customer reviews on social media can help build trust and credibility with your audience. By showcasing happy customers, you can encourage others to become customers as well.


All of the above tactics work, and are certainly a big step towards transforming social media followers into paying customers. But, let’s take another big step forward. There’s an innovative technology that allows you to collect customer data and then integrate it with social media and marketing messaging tools, like SMS, to gain the best possible ROI: Integrated WiFi marketing.

Social Media Marketing and Integrated WiFi Marketing Go Hand-In-Hand

Social media marketing and integrated WiFi marketing technology can work collaboratively to create a more comprehensive and effective marketing strategy to achieve the best possible ROI, and with the right platform, this can be done through automations – further enhancing the guest engagement due to consistency.

With integrated WiFi marketing technology, a restaurant offers free WiFi access to its customers. When connecting to the WiFi, the customer is automatically enrolled in the loyalty program. The customer is at ease because there is no “personal” data required, simply connecting without complex codes or passwords that require long explanations. In return, the restaurant can now connect with the customer and customers can use this access to engage with the brand’s social media profiles and share their experiences and interact with managers (versus post the negative review on Yelp). You can even promote your brand’s social media presence by prompting users to follow or like your brand’s pages when they access the WiFi. The result of this simple, single text has produced amazing results. Overall this creates an opportunity to enhance the  customer experience and encourages brand loyalty. 

But, there’s a tremendous secondary effect, while the WiFi solution purposely avoids interrogating the customer and relentlessly pushing for personal data, the social media platforms already have that data and can provide valuable insights into customer demographics, interests and online behaviors and more. It even gets better: The Integrated WiFi (?)marketing technology avoids personal data, but gathers information about the utilization of the service, such as when a device connects, the days, weeks, numbers of connections, the duration and more. In the case of restaurant franchises, this is exponentially more powerful as it is across all the franchise venue locations. Marrying the two worlds creates a very powerful set of information with rich analytics. Combining the data collected from both sources enables franchises to better understand their audience, create more targeting marketing campaigns and improve customer segmentation.

By combining the data collected from social media marketing and integrated WiFi marketing technology, businesses can use it to create personalized marketing campaigns. This includes retargeting ads through social media or sending customized offers and promotions through email or SMS on customer interests, behaviors and preferences.

This is how it works in a restaurant situation: 

You decide to open a wine bar where customers can build-their-own charcuterie boards. You have several locations in your region and it’s gaining popularity among the local college and young professional crowds. You’re busy Wednesday through Sunday, but Mondays and Tuesdays are dead and you need to boost traffic and revenue on your slowest days of the week. Luckily, your customers enjoy using your free WiFi and many have connected via their phone number and, by default, have joined your loyalty Program. And any time a new customer logs onto the WiFi the first time, you send them a link so they can “like” your Facebook page and follow it. So now, they’re more than just a Facebook “like”you have enough information to be able to text the customer, reach the customer on social media and you can segment your customers and determine which ones have not been visiting on your slowest days but do come in on Wednesday or Thursday. 

With this information, you send out the following SMS to the customers who have visited your wine bar on a weekday versus a weekend but have not come on a Monday. Specifically, on Monday at 2 p.m. text, “Case of the Mondays? How about BOGO wine to cheer you up? Get a glass on us with a purchase of any regular-priced glass of wine and bring two friends and enjoy a complimentary charcuterie board. See, “all better”, just text BOGOWINE to XXX to claim your stuff.” What’s even better is that a version of this offer is also cross promoted on social media where it’s reshareable and on your in-store digital displays for further impact. 

Now, a customer who normally comes on Thursdays will receive the text and think, “I need to come on a Monday!” And, the customer will want friends to come with them. Soon, your Mondays aren’t looking so empty and your franchise is generating more revenue.

Integrated WiFi marketing technology can be a powerful tool for franchise business owners looking to generate sales and build their customer base. By providing free WiFi and collecting customer data, you engage with customers in a meaningful way based on their specific behaviors and drive better results and improved your ROI on Social Media spend.

Stephen Gould is an entrepreneur with a successful history providing guest-engagement software solutions for the hospitality industry and he is the founder and CEO of NConnections. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Central Florida. Before transitioning to technologies within the hospitality industry, Steve worked in government contracting and internet security for 18 years. He led research programs, authored development methodologies, and built and delivered software products across the globe. 

Business Advice, Marketing & Promotions, Outside Insights, Restaurant Operations, Story