Top Social Media Sites for Restaurants

November 24th, 2010

When we are out speaking with our restaurant clients, one of the questions we often get is,

“Which social media sites should my restaurant participate in?”

That is not an easy question to answer. Unfortunately there isn’t a pre-determined social media formula for every restaurant. There are many factors to consider. An effective social media strategy will account for your business model, the restaurant cuisine, and the groups you are targeting.  Most of the restaurants we speak with are under the notion that social media ends after Facebook and Twitter.  We caution that while Facebook and Twitter are important in a restaurants social media mix, they are not the “end-all-be-all”. There are many other social media outlets and websites that your restaurant should be engaging in. Below we have created a list of sites that can help you grow your restaurants online presence:

  • Be sure that your establishment is listed on Google Places. This is a free listing that you can take advantage of and post photos, videos, and make announcements on specials.  Clients can also post reviews, which have a significant impact on online decision making. In addition, make sure you can be searched and reviewed through local business guides such as Yelp.com, and TripAdvisor.com.
  • Use your receipts to ask for positive feedback on these sites. ( ie: Did you have a good experience, thank us on Yelp!)
  • Facebook—set up a Facebook presence by setting up a Facebook Page and claiming your Facebook Places listing.  Facebook ads are a very cost effective way to target your audience and increase the number of people who “like” your restaurant.  Offer “fan” only discounts to help motivate more people to “like” your restaurant.  Also, make sure that your Facebook presence is updated with fresh content on a regular basis. There are also several tools you can use to leverage the Facebook social media efforts with Twitter. The first and easiest thing you can do is to set your Facebook posts to automatically post to your Twitter account using the Facebook Twitter feed.
  • Twitter—people love Twitter for timely announcements. An example of a good social activity on Twitter would be for your restaurant to follow potential clients in your area and do a promotion where your “followers” need to wait for your Tweet to get a discount or announce a give-away of some kind.  You can also use your establishment to host a “tweetup” a meeting for local twitter users.
  • Blogs —This is very important to your business.  Blogs are places you can put profiles of your chef, your concierge, announce awards, events, etc.  Post recipes of client’s favorite meals.  This is a great way to connect on a personal level with your clients. You can connect your blog to your Facebook page to keep the conversation going.
  • Location based sites such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook places — be sure to “claim” your business.  You can have some fun with these promotions.  You can merge your Facebook page and places page but be careful, you can lose some customization features of the page if you do that.
  • YouTube—People love videos and YouTube is the number two search engine on the web.  You can use a flip camera and do quick cooking tips or show your chef making a recipe. You don’t have to have high production value to create interesting videos. Remember the content is what is important. Interview celebrities or satisfied customers and post those to your channel.
  • Mobile – Over 1 in 5 Americans access the mobile web each day, but the problem with most websites is they don’t load properly or look right on most mobile devices.  Curious to what your website looks like on a mobile device?  You can use this mobile emulator to find out.  If your site takes too long to load or is not well adjusted for the mobile web, you should look at the EMP mobile site solution – need to add link here. Mobile is not usually thought about as a “social media” property but it should be part of any web campaigns as more and more consumers are accessing social media and websites through mobile devices.
  • Last but not in any way least:  Email – use an email client like constant contact or others to put a sign up box for your “insiders club” a special discount club that you email every week.  This can include your blog posts, recipes, etc.  Its a great way to stay in contact with your customers and a an important driver of traffic to your website and social media channels.

5 Important Upcoming Trends In Social Media For The Hospitality Industry

November 22nd, 2010

Trends in social media change on a constant basis.  It’s hard to tell where the next big site comes along that is more successful than everything before it.  Here are a few trends according to TNW to watch out for over the coming year:

1. Group Buying. Group buying is all over the place.  There are services popping up all over the place trying to get customers discounts on everything from things to do, see, eat, or buy.  This gives hospitality an edge just by dropping their prices for a limited number of lucky customers.

2. Mobile Locations. This is definitely a social media trend that has been improving rapidly and is constantly being innovated.  Foursquare and Gowalla started it off and Facebook Places has recently been released.  Everyone in the hospitality industry should be keeping an eye on this trend staying up to date on everything.

3. Twitter Monetizing. Twitter is slightly behind Facebook with the idea of making huge money behind their social media site.  Twitter has just recently started with features such as “promoted tweets” but this trend should become more common in time.

The bottom line?  Your business needs to pay attention to the trends as new ones pop up all the time.  To stay competitive you need to be involved and present on the social networks.