The most popular social media sites are now bursting with messages encouraging restaurant and cafe owners to part with their cash in exchange for wider exposure. Pop ups like ‘pay £10 to get 5000 views’ make it easier than ever to do, with only a few taps or clicks before the money is spent and new business comes piling in. Only that’s very rarely the case.
The reality is that for most restaurants and cafes, that exposure is not going to bring about a noticeable increase in foot traffic or delivery orders. This doesn’t mean you can’t effectively use social media to grow your customer base, it can be really great, but to do so you need to lose the impulse buy approach and adopt a more tactical style. Do you run a cafe or restaurant using paid advertising on social media? Here’s how to get results for your budget.
How to make your restaurant stand out on social media
Imagine opening a restaurant on a busy high street without any speciality; serving Italian, Indian, Turkish, Thai, Fast Food, Sunday roasts, Fish & Chips, Ice cream, cakes and the rest. It’s unlikely to last very long. But by throwing money at social media advertising without a strategy you’re effectively applying this approach to reaching your customer base. Just like turning a great recipe into a dish, you need patience and skill to craft the end result that is going to get a response from people.
Creating your recipe for success in social media advertising starts with being specific. First, think about what exactly it is you want to achieve. You can go much further than just getting more orders. Perhaps you have a dish that is especially quick or cheap to make, something that’s more profitable than the rest of the menu, or a unique signature dish that’s likely to be remembered? Are there a few hours of the day that are too quiet? Or perhaps you’re opening a new branch? Whatever the situation, this will in turn affect how you advertise. The content that you pay to promote should relate directly to your goal; an offer such as 10% off between 3pm & 6pm, for example, is going to get a better response than paying to promote a post about the weather.
How to reach the right customers on social media
Use the business centre or advertising manager of whatever platform you’re advertising on to target the specific type of customer you would like for your cafe or restaurant. Geography is obviously vital, if you’re not targeting people close enough to actually visit your spot you may as well throw your advertising budget down the drain. Think about the average age of clientele dining at your restaurants, what do you suppose they do for a living? Do they work locally and wear business suits? Are they creative types, blue collar or students? All of this detail is going to make your advertising much more effective. There is no point having your advert seen by people who it is not relevant to, or who wouldn’t fit in in your environment.
Choosing the right time for your restaurant to post
Most Facebook posts have a presence for around 2 hours, Tweets far, far less than that, some observers reckon around 18 minutes. Take this into account when planning your posts, if you’re looking to get new orders for your cafe or restaurant, it’s important to try to appear in people’s feeds whilst they’re hungry. Here’s a tip; if you’re likely to not have time you can schedule your posts to go out at any time. You could line one up the night before when the restaurant is closed and you have a bit more time to think about the wording of the post, find out more about scheduling messages here for Twitter or here for Facebook.
Posting the right content for higher conversion rates and reach
Make sure that whatever you’re posting shows your restaurant or cafe at it’s very best. Whilst you might assume that a picture of some well presented food is the best thing to post, it’s worth remembering that studies have shown users respond extremely positively to pictures with people in them. Consider including your chef, or a happy member of staff in the shot. It has become quite fashionable to post pictures of food online, you could encourage customers to post their pictures with a hashtag of your business name and then share their content. Whatever image you promote with your advert, make sure that it’s a good one, think about the lighting, the perspective and check there’s nothing you wouldn’t want visible in the background of the shot. Alternatively you could go further and post a slideshow or a video, just remember quality is key, the better the visual, the better the response.
Using your audience to increase your visibility and reach
Social media sites will take your money for advertising regardless of whether the advert generates extra business for you or not. How you leverage that advertising for maximum impact is down to you. Beyond targeting and composing your advert correctly there are some clever ways cafes and restaurants can get more mileage from their ads. Consider a post along the lines of, ‘Retweet this and when we reach 250 retweets one person will win a meal for 2’. If you can incentivise people to share your ad you’re going to boost the performance of your ad far beyond what you could achieve with a standard promotional post.
Work with a social media team
Growing cafes and restaurants might not have the resources to employ a full time social media team to run their channels and manage their advertising budgets (and they probably shouldn’t either!). If you want the security of knowing it’s all being taken care-of and handled in the best way, you could always work with a team like the one here at Alloy. We’ve run digital strategies for restaurants up and down the country and would love to help you with yours. If you’re curious, why not give us a call for a no obligation chat and find out what we can do. Alternatively, you can find out more about our social media marketing for restaurants here.