As a restaurant owner, you are also a marketer – getting your name out there so as many folks as possible know about your restaurant. Here are six important ways to manage your online presence and the new technologies that can help you get more bodies in the front door on a more consistent basis.
1. Be Mindful Of Social Media Topics
A recent survey of more than 1,200 restaurant customers asked what guides their choices when deciding where to dine or order takeout or delivery.
- 83% said restaurants that treat their employees well is a factor that’s important. Highlighting your employee-of-the-month on social media or mentioning their accomplishments (graduations, marriages, new babies, etc.) is a good way to spread the word.
- 73% indicated that support of their local community influences their restaurant choice. When you support a local community event, take some photos and post them online. It makes a difference.
2. Updated Directory Listings
Sometimes this can be a painstaking task, but one that’s worth it. Google search algorithms like correct, consistent information. Track all of the directories you are listed on and correct erroneous information by making the appropriate updates. Click-through rates to your restaurant’s website should improve after the information is corrected.
3. Find Out How Customers Hear About Your Restaurant
Yelp is the 800-pound gorilla of restaurant search/review, but there are others, both locally focused, as well as broader-reaching sites and apps. Have your wait staff survey customers to identify your top three sources of referrals. Monitor your listing information on those sites regularly, as well as any reviews that might be posted. Negative reviews need to be dealt with immediately. Respond to them if you can and report fraudulent reviews when possible. You don’t want customers, new or existing, reading negative information about your restaurant, especially if it isn’t true.
4. Link Your Social Media Sites To Your Website
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all of them. Make it easy for people to spread the word about new items on your menu. Remember that certain social media sites are favored by different age groups. Facebook is now considered an “old folks” platform. Younger people tend to use Instagram and Twitter. You may want to alter your message based on the platform.
5. Go Mobile to Improve Trust Among Consumers
Consumers attach to a brand faster when using a mobile device than any other device, because they can hold the device in their hands, as opposed looking at a computer screen or television. Because consumers can “hold” the brand in their hand, they tend to trust it more (a study calls this psycho-haptic — “what I touch is real”). This is important because 51% of all restaurant searches happen on a mobile phone, and these are people who will be ordering online or visiting your restaurant within a few hours.
6. Provide Customers Control
As reported in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, if you touch something you like, you’ll want it more. It might also explain, in terms of dollars, why online orders tend to be larger than phone-in orders. When a person can control something, they get a sense of ownership. Research has found this to be true even on touchscreen devices, where the user has some control. The ability to touch or interact with an image or menu item on a handheld device or tablet gives customers a sense of ownership and control. It precipitates the thought of, “Yeah, I want to order this!” Your online ordering site should be branded to your restaurant and allow customers as much control as possible – giving them the best opportunity to order as much as possible.