Start with social

As a restaurant owner, it’s important to have a social media marketing strategy that’s as unique as your business. You might be determined that 2018 is the year to make this happen, but how do you know where to begin?

While a quick Google search will bring up thousands of marketing tips, it’s rare that the advice tailored toward corporations and large conglomerates applies to smaller businesses trying to improve. That’s why these five tips were compiled with restaurant owners in mind, so your social media marketing can be as impactful as the cuisine you share.

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1. Use Images

The restaurant industry lends itself well to visual advertising, even without professional equipment. A high-quality smartphone camera can easily capture mouthwatering shots of food, and images have never been easier to share.

When it’s time to share images, don’t make the mistake of only including them on your website. Facebook posts with images see 2x more engagement over those without, so incorporating images on every platform is a fantastic way to boost a marketing strategy.

A visual showcase keeps food at the forefront of followers’ news feeds, and will hopefully be at the forefront of their cravings as well.

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2. Share Customers’ Content

When taking a lap around the dining room on any given night, it’s not uncommon to see a cluster of phones at every table. From the perfect group shot to photos of dinner, your customers are already giving publicity to your restaurant—it’s just up to the savvy marketer to consolidate it into an easily accessible place.

The simplest way to do this is by adding signage throughout the restaurant or in menu inserts encouraging people to tag the restaurant when they share photos for a chance to be featured on the page. From there, just by sifting through your business’s tagged posts, there will be a variety of pictures you can share. Sharing these images integrates the diner’s perspective into the marketing materials and shows that your business values the customer experience. Happy customers are your best brand ambassadors, and encouraging social sharing is a great way to magnify their feedback.

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3. Own Your Instagram Location

Not only is Instagram perfect for showing off tasty dishes, but leveraging location tagging can also do wonders for a restaurant’s exposure. As long as a restaurant location is on Facebook, it is searchable on Instagram, and photos posted with a location receive a 79 percent higher engagement than those without one.

Adding the restaurant’s location when posting your kitchen’s newest creation will ensure that anyone trying to learn more about your restaurant will be able to find it. This simple trick only takes moments to implement, resulting in a boost to Instagram metrics, more social traffic, and an increase in the restaurant’s exposure online.

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4. Host Social Contests

Contests are a marketing strategy perfect for restauranteurs; they create a unique platform for increasing social media exposure while inherently encouraging interaction among your customer base.

One of the best ways to leverage a contest to its full advantage is to ask a question and have followers answer in the comments to enter. Asking about their favorite meal, beverage, or even having them tag a friend they would celebrate their win with provides valuable information about your target demographic while increasing social media interaction. This, coupled with the fact that running a contest is a low time commitment, makes this a marketing solution perfect for the busy restaurant owner.

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5. Start a Blog

Consumers have no shortage of options on where to spend their dining dollars, so standing out from the competition is essential for a restaurant’s marketing strategy. One of the best ways to showcase a restaurant’s unique personality is to start a blog.

While a short blog might take a few hours to write, considering that small businesses with blogs generate 126 percent more leads than businesses without, it’s a time investment worth making.

Whether a new blog is published once a week or once a season, creating long-form content is a prime opportunity to showcase what your restaurant is all about. An interview with the head chef, a write-up of new menu offerings, or even a roundup of local events that overlap with your target demographic is a great way to inspire community discussion and put your restaurant at the forefront of the newest happenings.

As a restaurant owner, don’t think that your digital marketing strategy for 2018 has to be a repeat of last year. There are plenty of options to show off your cuisine, share your creations, and talk about what’s new, without costing a fortune or taking up valuable time. Keeping these tips in mind will help get your cuisine in the hands of existing and new customers alike, and curate a social media presence catered to your restaurant’s unique personality.

Kevin Valdez is the co-founder of GroupRaise, a new way of organizing restaurant fundraisers for local causes.

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