Whether at home or on-the-go, these days you’ll find fingers typing (or swiping) away and eyes glued to phone, tablet and computer screens. What this means for restaurants is that it’s more important than ever to maintain an online presence. The best way to do this? Through social media—which gives you tools to connect to your audience in more meaningful ways.
Here we outline the best reasons restaurants should be on social media, along with insights from two well-known personalities within the industry: Bianca Magtoto, brand manager of the Mothership F&B Group, and Maita Quesada, Group Public Relations Head of the Moment Group of Restaurants.
1. You get to reach them where they are.
Consider the fact that 97% of all active internet users1 in the Philippines have social media accounts and that Filipinos spend an average of 4 hours on it a day (which tops the world charts2 on social media use). With social media, your brand gets to connect to millions of potential customers right from the comfort of your own computer screen.
2. As a food-related brand, you’re bound to capture their attention.
With the culture of ‘foodies’ and food-obsession on the rise (especially among the youth), food is among the most popular subjects you’ll find on social media. Scroll through almost anyone’s Instagram feed and you’re bound to find photos or videos that record their gastronomic adventures. People are increasingly turning to social media to share and discover more about food3, which is why your restaurant should utilise it to promote itself and build solid relationships with customers.
3. It’s easy on the wallet.
“Creating a social media account is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to market your restaurant,” shares Quesada. Most platforms—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—allow you to create accounts and access basic business tools for free. And if you’re looking to step it up, you’ve got tons of options for third-party monitoring tools that are either free or won’t leave too big of a dent in your pocket, such as Hootsuite.
Also, cheaper and more efficient to do through social media is recruiting potential employees (a cinch with networks such as LinkedIn), and connecting with other businesses and suppliers for any potential resources you might need. After all, sending a message can be done with the click of a button and it doesn’t cost a dime.
4. Everything happens in real time.
Information moves so rapidly in the world wide web that you can reach your followers immediately after broadcasting news and announcements. And with features such as story-type posts (e.g., Snapchat and Instagram Stories) and live broadcasts (e.g., Facebook Live and Instagram Live), Magtoto and Quesada recommend sharing behind-the-scenes shots so restaurants can connect to followers at an even faster, real-time speed.
Showing the more intimate side of your restaurant, right as it is happening, can help communicate authenticity, much as if a real-life friend were operating from behind their phone screen. “We’d like to believe it has helped us give more character to our brand—that behind a restaurant that serves good food, there’s whole team dedicated with the same goal/passion,” explains Magtoto.
5. Know who you’re reaching and tailor-fit your content accordingly.
Tools such as Facebook Page Insights and Instagram Insights4 help you keep track of your restaurant’s social media presence, giving you easy access to data on who you are reaching and which posts perform best. “[With] traditional marketing . . . it’s really hard to track direct conversions,” shares Magtoto. “[But] when you place an online advertisement, you . . . [can check] how many people have actually seen [or] interacted with your ad.”
By knowing who you’re reaching, you can better gauge the topics or the kinds of posts that’ll be relevant to them. To ensure a better fit between your content and the people seeing it, social media also allows you to specify the audience for your posts based on gender, age, location and other perimeters.
6. People listen to their peers.
Social media connects people, and what people post can impact the thoughts and decisions of those around them. “People tend to believe or get influenced by other people,” shares Magtoto. “It makes sense because if it were you, you’d of course believe what customers are saying about the brand rather than what the brand is saying about themselves.” Your own customers can help market your restaurant by sharing their photos and experiences with their own respective circles.
7. You get to communicate, human to human.
Unique to social media, especially compared to traditional marketing, is the ability to hold two-way conversations. You get to interact with customers in a way that is more conversational and human. Try writing captions in the form of conversational sentences or questions (“We’re open today!”, “Have you tried our new specials?”) to which followers can respond in real time. This allows you to showcase your brand personality, making you more relatable.
“The more organic the post feels, the more post engagement—shares, likes, and comments—it gets,” says Magtoto. “[It’s] important for the post to feel less of an advertisement and more something that could stimulate emotions from the viewers/customers.” As a successful example, Magtoto cites the Jollibee video advertisement series5 which focused on the experience the fast-food chain provides, rather than the products themselves.
The mutual interaction social media offers may also be the trick to forming lasting relationships with your audience. On top of helping them feel that they’re being heard, it also gives customers an avenue to leave feedback and cues you on where and how to improve.
The biggest advantage of using social media is the way it allows you to foster a sense of community. As social creatures, people crave a sense of belonging and with social media, you can make them feel part of the restaurant’s very heart.