Let’s face it, the restaurant industry is fierce—a recent study even shows that most new restaurants close within their first year of operation. That means that not only do you need a killer menu and environment that keeps patrons coming in droves, you also need to get the word out to potential customers. Here are the top tips for creating a digital marketing strategy for your new restaurant.
Be Active on Social Media
Creating a Facebook business page and a Twitter page is a must for establishing your contact information and location, as well as for sharing information on discounts or specials, new offers, and for general promotion. But Instagram is a smart platform to use for foodie photos that will both make mouths drool and grow your business (more ideas on creative social media ideas below).
The most important facet of your social media strategy is that you keep up with it. A maintained social media presence shows a hardworking business that has something worth showing off. This extra effort and drool-worthy photos (as well as an outlet for you to be fun and friendly) will win over new and existing customers alike). Of course, running a restaurant is a busy job, but that’s where social media management tools like HootSuite or Sprout Social come in handy. Use them to create custom streams and pre-schedule your posts so you can reach out to customers at meal time when you’re busiest and they’re hungriest.
Encourage and Maintain Reviews
Research shows that 88% of customers look to online comments and reviews before considering where to eat, which makes it clear that encouraging and maintaining your restaurant’s reviews is a must. People will review your business regardless of whether or not you have an account--especially on Yelp, the go-to review site. That’s why you’ll need to create a Yelp account and also prepared for negative reviews, no matter how great your food and service is. The key to making reviews work for you—rather than against you—is to respond to all reviews, especially the negative ones, in a constructive and positive manner. That way, an anonymous disgruntled customer doesn’t take away any business for you because they found a dish to be too salty for their liking.
Get Creative on Social Media
Social media is where you get to establish your name, a following, and your brand’s identity. If you’re a sophisticated date-night venue with expensive fare, cater your content to reflect this, by showing off wine and dinner pairings, photos of patrons dining in candlelight. If you’re a casual lunch cafe with healthy fare, share photos of your dishes and include calorie counts, nutritional information, and special ingredients. Whatever you do, make sure you’re snapping photos in a well-lit spot, and that the surrounding area is clean. Use hashtags of your own making to generate buzz (and encourage your patrons to use these on their own accounts), and hop on board to join in on the most popular food hash tags of social media.
Leverage the power of SEO
Learning how to use SEO the right way is a make or break for websites and businesses alike, and for restaurants—who usually rely on the business of patrons in their specific geographic location—local SEO can be a godsend for ranking higher in Google search results. You can even utilize analytics to find out exactly who your users are, what they’re searching for, and how they’re finding you, so that you can tighten your strategy according to their needs.
Google My Business is the first step in ranking higher on Google’s search results, so that your restaurant will be found more easily and quickly. You can also have your menu pop up in the search results, which simplifies the research process for customers (no more visiting each restaurant’s website and then locating, downloading, and reading a menu). Because your menu will be much more accessible to patrons, you’re much more likely to reap more business.
Brianna Barcena is a Content Specialist at TrustRadius. When she's not in the office, she enjoys reading, watching a good historical drama, doing yoga, and going on adventures with her dog, Deeks.