The restaurant industry is hectic and laden with cut throat competition, which is why standing out in the crowd is so important to the success and longevity of any restaurateur’s business.
One marketing channel that may have flown under your nose is a simple one that lies within your very own walls—your employees.
Turning employees into brand advocates for your restaurant and having them share positive, authentic messages can help you gain more exposure and customers. By prioritizing employee advocacy, you can form the narrative for your restaurant that shows it in the best possible light and grow your reputation in the industry.
Benefits of Employee Brand Advocacy
While you may run your own social media channels, having your employees become brand advocates has several benefits.
Your employees offer a wealth of networks that can help you reach a more diverse and expansive audience. Research by PostBeyond, an employee advocacy company, and Golfdale Consulting showed that messages sent by employees rather than the restaurant’s social channels reached 561% more eyes.
Content shared by employees also will come across as more authentic and natural, rather than promotional, which will increase trust and engagement. PostBeyond’s research found that messages related to your brand from restaurant employees were reshared 24 times more than those shared by the restaurant.
That extended reach and engagement when employees advocate for your brand can ultimately benefit sales. SocialChorus, an employee communications software company, found that a 12% increase in brand advocacy can double revenue growth.
Plus, brand advocacy doesn’t cost anything, making it a low investment, high reward option for marketing.
How to Increase Employee Brand Advocacy
Employee brand advocacy has many rewards, but how does one achieve it? Here are the steps any restaurant can take to leverage evangelism marketing with staff.
1. Have a clear brand to advocate
The first step to creating brand advocacy is to have a brand for employees to advocate. Take time to set values and a clear mission for your restaurant, which will give your employees something they can believe in and want to advocate themselves.
When you set your mission and goals, it helps create a cohesive company culture that your employees can feel like a part of.
2. Get employees involved
The next step is to set this culture into motion and get your employees involved.
Start on the right foot with your employees with excellent onboarding and training. After you hire a new employee, don’t kill the energy from the interview process by first handing them a huge handbook. Instead, bring them into the fold with a fun onboarding process.
This could include showing a funny or engaging video that makes your place look special, cross-training your new hires so they have a chance to meet all the staff and gain in depth knowledge of your restaurant’s inner workings, and providing a meal on-the-house at the end of their first day—including a few free drinks.
Onboarding sets the tone for your employees’ whole experience, so don’t skimp—your generosity will pay dividends later.
4. Treat your employees like the rockstars they are
Once an employee has entered your company culture, then it is up to you to treat them like a rockstar to increase their work engagement. Offer rewards for when they do a good job, have regular meetings and checkups to make sure no anger is brewing in the background, and try to really get to know your staff and their dreams so you can help them along the way. Show that you care about their goals by offering mentorship and opportunities for career advancement.
5. Use tech to improve employee satisfaction
Use scheduling software such as 7shifts so employees can easily trade shifts and have a central place for work communication to also aid your employee satisfaction at your restaurant.
When your employees are proud of where they work, and have good relationships with restaurant leadership, then they will be more willing to share that enthusiasm in authentic social media posts. Creating positive employee relationships by leveraging technology and strategies to streamline restaurant staff communication between your managers and team members is a good place to start!
How to Promote Brand Advocacy
Now that your employees are happy working at your restaurant and actually want to share the love with others, the next step is to encourage brand advocacy on social media.
Here’s how to make your business social media-worthy:
1. Employee Events
Consider throwing a few events each year for your employees to be able to mingle and have some fun. Hosting a company-sponsored event for the staff’s benefit will make employees want to whip out their phones and start sharing. Event ideas can include bringing a mascot or special guest, or hosting a themed gathering, like go-karting or karaoke.
2. Restaurant Design
Social media-friendly attractions in your restaurant are also a good way to get employees sharing. Instagram-worthy photo op areas have been popular for some time now, and don’t show any signs of going out of style.
Assets to incorporate into your overall design may include a neon sign with a unique message, a photo booth, or food competitions at your establishment.
3. Branded Hashtags
Even if your staff members are posting about your restaurant, it won’t mean much if they don’t include the right hashtags. Bring your staff into the social media fold by encouraging not just posts, but including certain hashtags and tagging your restaurant’s handle. Ask employees to follow the restaurant’s social accounts so they can share any news they find exciting. If you have a social media manager, make them the point person for staff to ask questions.
4. Menu Links
When your staff posts about the food at your establishment, make sure they know about an online menu, which can easily be set up with SinglePlatform. They can then include a link to the menu in their posts.
It might not be necessary to have an enforced social media policy, but a little guidance can help you get the most from your staff’s posts.
Conclusion & Takeaways
Employee brand advocacy has a lot of benefits, but it is not something that can be too heavily directed. It must come naturally from an inviting company culture and a mission your staff feels part of. From there, providing ample opportunities for them to get great content, and a slight nudge on social media best practices will allow you to get the most out of their shares. You’ll soon find you won’t have to do much for them to spread the message of your restaurant – and all for free!
If you focus on building a great company culture, and give your staff the right channels to share it, then the results will flow in!
About the Author: Eric Stober is a content producer for 7shifts, an employee scheduling platform built for restaurants. Eric has written for publications such as Global News and the Toronto Star, and has a keen interest in travel, technology, entrepreneurship, spirituality and mindfulness.