It’s never been as important for restaurants to keep sharing their story. In this article, we’ll take a look at how restaurants can still keep in touch with guests during the coronavirus crisis by adding value, creating fresh content, and serving their guests.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the restaurant industry hard—forcing once bustling venues to shut down while everyone is told to stay home. But while customers can’t physically visit venues, it would be a huge mistake for restaurants to shut down their marketing activity, too.

It’s essential restaurants keep marketing momentum going. No one can predict the future, but the recovery will come. And restaurants need to be able to hit the ground running—not have to entice back customers who have shifted to competitors that were still marketing throughout. The key? Great storytelling.

5 engaging ways restaurants can carry on sharing their story

A slightly different approach might still be needed, but there are still lots of ways restaurants can interact with customers and share their story—even if physical venues remain closed. These include:

1. Shifting to telling a new chapter of a restaurant’s story

Due to the shutdown, restaurant operations will have massively changed—but this isn’t the end of a restaurant’s story. Far from it. So, if they’ve switched to delivery, they need to let people know. If a restaurant is stepping up and serving the community in this crisis, sharing this with their customers is really important. Restaurants need to think about their staff too (the key characters) —sharing interviews and insight from them during this time to add texture to keep people engaged. The restaurant business has had a huge shock, but how to respond is really important for momentum.

2. Every restaurant needs to be active on social media

Now is not the time for restaurants to stay quiet across their social networks. Everybody is staying at home, but that just means everyone, restaurant guests included, want to connect virtually instead. Restaurants must utilize their Instagram, Facebook or blog to update people with great content during this time. This can include:

  • Using Instagram to share behind the scenes pics of changed restaurant operations.
  • Reaching out to the social community and ask what they want to see going forward—restaurants can find out how to serve guests in a different way.
  • Restaurants can ask for user-generated content from customers staying at home. While big nights in are the new nights out, they can start a conversation and keep it going during shutdown, with relevant hashtags and check-ins of course.

3. Use video to engage with customers (from a distance)

Even though restaurants are closed for customers for now—they can still leverage the power of video.  Video clips on Facebook, a restaurant’s website or through Instagram Live or Stories is a great way for venues to tell and develop story strands in an engaging way. Video instantly humanizes a restaurant story and even better, people love it. Restaurants can share some throwback footage of when they started out, encourage staff to make some entertaining TikToks or simply use video as a way to keep people up to date with how they’re responding.

4. Restaurants can shift to serving customers at home

Restaurants should think about how they can add value to guests at home during this time. This can include sharing a new weekly recipe, some top food prep tips to make home cooking easier or some interesting quarantine cocktail ideas.

This kind of content is important—not only will it keep a restaurant brand fresh, but rewarding customers with non-monetary offers that align with a restaurant’s brand values will build essential loyalty. And this is vital for when the recovery comes.

5. Restaurants can use this time to really review customer feedback

While usual operations are on hold, this can be a really valuable time for restaurants to review their as-usual operations. Can they start anything new? For example, restaurants can use their WiFi marketing database to launch a new email newsletter, or they can create a weekly Instagram Live Q&A for some extra guest input. Turning this situation into a positive not only will help restaurant businesses pivot – it will ensure restaurants engage with guests in a new way—laying those important foundations for reopening.

To wrap up

We all know what a challenge COVID-19 is for the restaurant business. But instead of laying low, there are many ways restaurants can keep their brand front of mind with their customers. Keeping telling stories, by engaging with guests and offering value is essential for getting ready when they can open to in-house guests again.

Hannah Hambleton is the Content Manager for Beambox. Beambox is a guest WiFi provider, combining fast social WiFi with a marketing platform for lasting customer insight and growth. Beambox works with venues including restaurants, hotels and retailers.

Outside Insights, Story