There is no doubt that social media generates sales for businesses. Over 50% of people are more willing to buy from a company once they become a fan or follower online. Cafes and Restaurants should be using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to grow their business, with little investment other than time. As social media is maturing, more websites and applications are being created that target the Cafe and Restaurant community. Websites such as FohBoh are now promoting chefs and restaurant owners.
The 3 main goals of social media for cafes should be;
- Engage with your customers, create discussion
- Increase/empower your “Brand Evangelists”,
- Increase your sales
Social media allows restaurants to achieve this in ways that were not possible 10 years ago. Potential customers increasingly use social media to interact and engage with companies. It can only take 10 minutes a day to maintain a social presence online, and the benefits can be huge. In one example a cafe doubled its clientelle just by using Twitter.
- Use customer review websites such as eatability, google maps and menupages to see what people are saying about you. All are free to use, and Google Maps allows you to put up a lot of information about your business. Engage with the reviewers. Use the negative comments to address any shortcomings in your own service. Use the positive reviews as ways to focus your own marketing. Above all make sure you are listed in these websites. Getting on top of customer reviews is priority number one for restaurants right now.
- Use social tracking like TweetBeep and Backtype to monitor who is talking about you. Don’t just set up alerts for your name, also look for people talking/tweeting about other restaurants in your area. Use these conversations as a chance to a)learn about your market and b)jump in and start a discussion with potential clients.
- Send out exclusive deals that are only available to those using your social media of choice. Tell them to print out or show the tweet or page with the “special” code on for a discount. This has a double effect of measuring how many people are paying attention to your social network.
- Create a special “Web 2.0″ night/afternoon/drink. Make it a mashup night where people can come and meet other social networkers. It could become an internet singles night or a “IT Crowd” night. Either way use social networking in your promotion of special events. One restaurant teamed up with a social application to generate 161 new customers on one night.
- Develop and promote a Facebook page. It is a way to network with current customers and find potential new customers. As people using facebook can “recommend” pages to their friends, this is a powerful way to encourage the spread of your brand. Promote your use of the page with special offers or invitations that are exclusive to “fans” of your page. You can put up videos and pictures of your food. Allow people to engage with your staff/chef as well as the food they serve. Facebook should be looked at as another face of your business.
- Make sure you have information, such as a simple logo, inside your restaurant or cafe promoting your use of social media. As people start to use mobile devices to tweet etc, you will find more people using social media while they are sitting in your establishment. This will allow you to connect to more customers and engage with those that already know about your business. You should also have this information on your website. Again this only has to be a simple logo and link to your Facebook page etc.
- Connect with your suppliers, indirect competitors, corporate customers (potential and current), online. Use social networking to stay in touch with everyone in the supply chain. Social media is still in its infancy, but never before has there been an opportunity to become a cafe marketing gorilla regardless of your business size. The more you connect with the businesses in your ecosystem, the larger your presence will be.
- Find and connect to complementary services. You could work with a supplier, eg a Soft Drinks wholesaler, to create a social networking promotion to drive people to your business. You could work with a local tourist honey-trap to create a promotion for a day out. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
- Use Youtube or podcasting to engage with your customers and increase the conversation volume. The ease with which you can use online platforms to promote your brand is increasing. You could easily start using YouTube to promote customer testimonials. You could film and promote your latest event. You could create an audio broadcast of any bands playing. You could give a guided online tour of your kitchen. You could create a bio of your top chef. You could film your food being prepared. Again all of this must be integrated with your business plan and your social media plan.
- Ask/Tell people to promote your service. Give your fans a chance to promote your service through badges on facebook pages or asking them to re-tweet. Encourage them to share your story through groups and other communities. We have encouraged customers to go online and post reviews of us anywhere they can. You could develop a team of engaged followers that get special discounts.