Image from grouponworks.co.uk

Almost every restaurant in New York City has a social media presence, whether it’s on Instagram, Yelp, Facebook, or Twitter. It’s hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t have one. Although social media is free to use and easily accessible, this doesn’t mean restaurant owners should start creating a series of accounts right away. In fact, creating a social media presence without a well-thought out strategy could potentially tarnish your business’s reputation online and curb potential customers from visiting your restaurant. Here’s the most common mistakes I’ve come across with how restaurant owners approach social media.

1. Underestimating the Value of a Social Media Presence

The biggest mistake restaurant owners make about social media is not having a social media presence at all. Some owners believe they can get more customers in the door by traditional word-of-mouth without realizing social media is the 21st century’s word-of-mouth! A bad
Yelp review of a restaurant can have as much (or even more) influence than a couple of diners telling their friends about their positive experience. When a restaurant has a strong social presence backed by professional quality images and a carefully thought out persona that interacts and listens to its customer’s, it not only thrives but sends a strong message to prospective customers that says “We care!”

2. Letting Inexperienced People Manage It

As a restaurant owner, your business is precious to you. Who you hire to create the experiences and dishes for your customers is essential to the vitality and growth of your store. Most restaurant owners hire experienced chefs, mixologists, and baristas to grow their business. Inexperienced hires usually undergo training before they are given their full responsibilities. Yet, so many restaurant owners willingly hand the keys to their restaurant’s social media to inexperienced people, such as college interns, restaurant employees, and fast-talking social media agencies with little credibility. While these people may be well-meaning, not all of them truly have an expertise in what they are doing. A business’s social media is an extension of it’s reputation and serves as the online face of the store. Ensuring your business’s social media is in the care of an experienced social media agency is the best decision you can make to safeguard your restaurant’s reputation.

3. Trying to Create a Presence on Every Available Platform

Many restaurant owners understand the importance of social media and want to take advantage of it themselves. They soon realize that there are so many social media platforms at their disposal and it becomes difficult to figure out which one is best for their business. They end up creating social media accounts for almost every platform available and become overwhelmed because they know they must produce content for the 7,8,9...10 accounts they created. Spreading yourself thin is the last thing you want to do. Find 1 or 2 social media platforms that fit your audience and start from there.

4. Speaking not Conversing

We’ve all made contact with the bad salesperson who stopped you in your tracks to talk about something you’ve probably never thought of buying (and never will thanks to him/her). The bad salesperson talks on and on about their product, rarely leaving a moment for breath or for you to think about what they’re selling. They don’t let you speak or ask any questions and at the end of their spiel they ask you if you’re interested. At this point, the only thing you’re interested in is getting away from the situation.

This is exactly what it’s like to be a business on social media that speaks to their customers instead of conversing with them. Speaking is what the bad salesperson does, talking without listening. Conversing ensures there is a back and forth communication between your business and the customers online. Your customers want to be heard. When they comment on a post, fulfill that desire by replying to them. Thank them for their patronage and invite them back. It does more wonders than you think.

Image courtesy of sitepoint.com

5. Going in With No Strategy

This is one of the most common mistakes restaurant owners make when gearing up their business’s social media accounts: not having a clear vision on how they are going to reach their goals. Creating a social media account and posting up a few photos may feel good until you realize the results aren’t there because there’s no strategy involved. Know your platform’s audience, speak to them with a unique voice, and always keep the end goal in mind. The backbones that hold up a restaurant’s strong social media presence go beyond a few good-looking posts. Like anything in life, there must be a purpose behind it.

6. Not Having a Unique Unified Voice

What is a unique unified voice? Social media platforms are loaded with content from so many restaurant profiles that it’s easy to get lost and overlooked. Your business has to stand out on social media to invoke a call to action for prospective customers. The days of one-size-fits-all marketing are gone. Recognize your superpower, what your restaurant does incredible well, it could be the special secret ingredient that keeps everyone coming back for more. Identify your typical customer. Dig deep. Understand their interests, hobbies, and favorite flavors. Use your research and create a persona for your restaurant. A good exercise for this is thinking about what your restaurant would say if they were a person at a bar. Your persona should appeal to your current and prospective customers while still staying true to your establishment.

7. Using it Purely for Advertising

Promoting your restaurant’s lunch special, brunch, or happy hour on social media is completely acceptable. It’s part of the reason why your business is on social media in the first place and customers love knowing about deals as they happen. At the same time, be cognizant of how often your posts are poised as hard sells. Social media users are online to avoid blunt ads and your business can suffer backlash if you participate in this practice too often. Instead, focus on sharing the experience of your restaurant through well-lit photos that boast the ambiance, customers, and food of course!

8. Not Asserting Their Expertise Enough

As a restaurant owner, you have a lot of knowledge about your food and perhaps the type of food you serve. If you serve a specific culture’s food, use your restaurant’s social media platform to show your prowess on the food, its culture, and history. If your restaurant’s entrees lean more towards cross-culture fusion foods, use social media to showcase your unique entrees and discuss the idea behind mixing flavors and why it works. Food lovers appreciate restaurants that show they know their food inside and out!

Looking for guidance on how to elevate your business’s social media marketing? Clickdaily is New York City’s Premier Social Media and Branding Agency. We specialize in helping restaurants large and small create a distinguishable brand identity online. Start bringing in new business from your social media accounts and get the results you deserve.