Undoubtedly the U.S. is in the midst of a food revolution. People are embracing unique restaurant concepts, exploring new places outside of their comfort zone and more than ever really just focusing on food as an art.
While that’s all great news for restaurants, there’s also an extreme level of competitiveness in the industry. Restaurants, particularly when they’re new to the scene, have to work harder than ever before to get the attention of discerning restaurant-goers, and much of their efforts are based on digital marketing.
The following are some of the top digital marketing concepts that are pertinent for restaurants right now, and will likely remain important into 2018.
Food photography is so relevant right now so along with investing in professional, mouth-watering imagery for your website and social media profiles you should also be focusing on graphic design. When you’re introducing a new menu item or a special event, use custom menu templates paired with photos of your food to get the most attention.
People online are innately visual, and as a restaurant catering to the senses, you can’t afford not to recognize how important that is. Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other forms of content.
As a side note, Facebook is still the number one social media channel to reach people in the restaurant industry, followed by Instagram.
Along with the classics of social media which are Facebook and Instagram, smart restaurants are getting into the Snapchat game. Snapchat isn’t new, but the idea of businesses using it is. Only around 16 percent of restaurants are currently using it for their businesses, so be one of the first.
Using Snapchat lets you uniquely brand yourself and give a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in your kitchen. People love transparency, so as an example, you could Snapchat your chef’s weekly visits to the local farmer’s market. Instagram can also work well for the behind-the-scenes component of restaurant digital marketing.
You should also regularly encourage your customers to take their own food pictures. It’s a great source of marketing, and you don’t have to do any of the work. Today’s customers appreciate word-of-mouth, and they want to try places their social media connections are going to. Getting people to tag themselves in your restaurant and post pictures is free, effective marketing.
Undoubtedly as a restaurant right now reviews can make or break your success, and you need to always be monitoring the digital world to see what’s being said. You need to dedicate the time required not just to read and evaluate reviews, but also to respond to them and converse with diners, whether their feedback is negative or positive.
Finally, a lot of times when it comes to online reviews the squeaky wheel is where the attention goes, but you need to be cultivating your happy customers as well. Thank them for their business and don’t just do it in a generic canned response. Really speak with your customers on social media and review sites.