There’s no doubt that as a restaurant owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Building up your brand on social media may not seem like a priority when you’ve got a menu to plan, inventory to oversee, and reservations to take. But social media has proven to be a driving force in the restaurant industry.
In fact, according to a study done by Cornell University, 59% of chain restaurants and 79% of independent restaurants use social media. It’s a thriving marketing approach that over a few short years has helped many restaurants to not only increase brand recognition but also gain a strong base of loyal customers.
This article will help you to avoid the most common mistakes that prevent many businesses (just like yours) from getting the full potential of the marketing power of social media.
Are you ready?
Committing to too many platforms
There is Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, and even more ambitious social startups launching every day. As each new social network pops up, many businesses feel the pressure to be on every single one.
The good news is that you don’t have to be on every social media site to get noticed by your potential customers! Just focus on those sites where you’ll get the most traction.
This will depend on your:
- Target audience: Not all target audiences spend their time on the same platforms. If your primary audience is Gen X (people born between 1965 – 1979 and are currently between 40-54 years old), then Facebook or LinkedIn is probably more important than Snapchat, where Gen Z or the newest generation born between 1995 – 2015 likes to hang out.
- Your business strengths: If you sell physical products such as food (and capturing images is your strong suit), then a highly visual medium like Instagram may be worth your time.
Overall, it’s best to pick one or two (maximum three) social media channels to focus all your efforts on, and once you are confident handling them, then you can widen your scope to other social networks.
Posting too much or too little
Posting on social media networks has become tricky: post too much and you risk irritating your audience, post too little, and you’ll disappear in the feed – you need to get it just right.
To work out how many times you should post, look at the recommended posting frequency for each network and also how often competitors in your industry post.
For the best times to post on social media in 2019, please click here.
Not developing a social media content calendar
A social media content calendar is an essential tool for most marketers. It reflects all the important dates that matter to your business, helps you create a consistent flow of content, stay organized across social platforms, and much more.
Many social media marketers like to create content calendars monthly that contain all of the necessary information you could need, including links to blog posts, videos, graphics, and even post copy.
Click here to access an extremely useful article written by Hootsuite’s staff on how to create a social media content calendar and maximize your return on investment (ROI).
Only sharing promotional content
If you use your social networks just to share promotional content about your services and products, your audience will switch off. Obviously, you do need to share content about your business, but in moderation.
The solution: follow the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule states that 80% of the content you post on social should be informative and entertaining, with no direct sales or promotions included. The other 20% can include a direct sales content such as a link to a special offer on your website (if you have one), promoting your own ticketed event, sharing reviews and testimonials that praise your products or services, and so on.
In other words, 8 out of every 10 posts you share on social media should be posted with the idea that they will be appealing to your followers — without any hidden agenda on your part other than to keep your business name in front of them.
There are plenty of interesting pieces of social content that you can create. For example, share interesting news and articles on what’s happening in your industry, pictures and videos that highlight your mission, your successes and even failures.
You can read more about the 80/20 rule by clicking here.
Also, take a look at this blog post talking about 9 brands that are absolutely killing it on social media with their balanced content approach.
Having a one-way conversation
Social networks are precisely what their name suggests: a place to be sociable.
Reply to your audience’s posts, comments, and private messages, as this is the quickest way to form a relationship with your audience and gain new followers.
However tempting it might seem, do not delete negative comments as this is an excellent opportunity to publicly show your responsiveness as a brand and convert a non-believer.
Taco Bell provided an excellent example of how responding to a negative review can actually be beneficial for their bottom line.
After some negative press regarding ingredients, Taco Bell took the opportunity to better their products, and inform their consumers about their ingredients. They launched an online marketing campaign based around it, posting videos on Facebook and YouTube of President Greg Creed talking about the correct ingredients of its products.
Taco Bell also created print ads to better inform consumers about their recipes, even going so far as thanking the person who brought the issue to light, for giving it the opportunity to do so.
By focusing on social media marketing via channels like Facebook, YouTube and others, the brand effectively reached and engaged existing customers, resulting in a swell of comments in support of Taco Bell’s campaign. This demonstrates that effective social media crisis management is not just about how to respond in the short term, but finding ways to recover reputation after the incident has occurred.
Too many hashtags and overly-long meaningless hashtags can hurt your post and reduce your searchability by making your post look like a scam.
Try to use branded hashtags and hashtags that resonate with your audience. Do not hijack popular hashtags that have no relevance to your post as this can result in a backlash.
Here’s an example of a brand using a trending hashtag without understanding the context.
In 2012, Celeb Boutique, a British online retailer, sparked outrage on Twitter by using the hashtag #Aurora, which was trending on Twitter because of mass killings in Aurora, Colorado.
The company sent out this tweet:
“#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress 😉 Shop: celebboutique.com/aurora-white-pleated-v-neck-strong-shoulder-dress-en.html …”
Twitter users responded angrily tweeting out responses such as “Winner of most distasteful tweet ever” and “Celeb Boutique should delete their disgusting tweet, apologize and make a donation to victims of #Aurora”.
The insensitive tweet was up for several hours, then was deleted. Celeb Boutique later apologized and explained that their social media team was non-US based and were unaware of the incident and simply thought it was another trending topic.
Lesson learned: always check to see what a trending hashtag is actually about before using it.
Ignoring insights & analytics
Do you know which posts are being shared or liked most frequently by your followers? Are you paying attention to your social media metrics? If not, you might be depriving yourself of a valuable roadmap for the future.
These insights tell you who your audience is, what posts they like (or do not like) and what the best time of day to post. Use this data going forward to create a social media strategy that’s in tune with the behaviour and taste of your audience. Also, don’t be afraid to constantly test new techniques and strategies to improve your results.
After all, social media is crowded and extremely competitive. Therefore, it’s crucial to identify the most effective social strategies that could help you reach your overall business goals.
Posting without multimedia
If you post to Facebook or LinkedIn without a video, you are missing out on making the most out of your presence.
People are more responsive to visual stimulation, so you should try to upload a video where possible to illustrate your post. Images are still a good alternative in place of video on Twitter and Instagram, but sadly they are no longer the king of LinkedIn and Facebook feeds.
All in all, social media marketing can be an effective way to create greater visibility for your business. However, if you aren’t dedicated enough, you can easily make one of these common mistakes. So, don’t forget to monitor, measure, and analyze your efforts to make sure you are reaching the right people, and seeing a superb return on your social media investment.
About the author:
Simona Petronyte is an aspiring entrepreneur, blogger, and tech enthusiast, who loves to share her insight on digital and social media topics. Most recently, she worked in Ottawa at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and was responsible for implementing digital communications associated with the organization’s conferences and events. Specifically, Rendez-vous Canada, the Tourism Congress, the Canadian Tourism Awards, the Parliamentary Caucus, Tourism Week in Canada, Tourism Day on the Hill, and others. In her free time, Simona loves going on food adventures, learning how to code, and petting dogs. Connect with Simona on LinkedIn.