Wondering about the benefits of social media for restaurants? Do you need to be on social media to succeed? Here’s how a strong online presence pays off for your restaurant.

The Benefits of Strong Social Media for Restaurants

Social media for restaurants is important. Here’s how to set your establishment apart from others in the food industry!

Social media is vital for a restaurant’s success. 94% of people say a bad review has prevented them from a visit. Social media lets you take control of your online reputation and show customers the delicious meals you’re serving up. Your patrons’ impression begins long before they dine with you. Social media for restaurants drives business and marketing. Create a positive social media presence for your business to connect with customers and bring ‘em in!

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In today’s digital age, social media for restaurants has never been more necessary. A customer’s initial impression happens quickly. Therefore, your social media accounts must showcase your menu and accurately reflect your establishment. Low-quality images, uninteresting posts, or worst of all, the lack of a presence altogether will turn potential customers away (or leave them in the dark).

As a restaurant owner, you’re probably focused on food and your customer experience when they sit down to eat. While this is vital to your success, of course, customers often look online long before they step foot in your door. With local search, reviews, and menus available in the palm of their hand, most customers will choose restaurants with a strong online presence. You will wow them when they get in the door, but you need to capture their attention first.

Consider this scenario: friends are deciding where to eat dinner and turn to social media to choose a restaurant. Who’s nearby? You and your competitor. Your competitor has an Instagram account featuring their cool décor, mouthwatering photos, and a list of their specials. If your restaurant doesn’t have social media, or has a lackluster presence, who are they going to choose? The answer’s obvious.

Don’t miss out on opportunities for new business, especially when it’s so easy to create social media for restaurants! As with almost any business, your presence online is expected and necessary to find continued success in this competitive industry.

Three Ways Social Media is Vital for Restaurants

1. Customers Search Social Media for Restaurants

Customers are going to search social media for restaurant choices. They will “friend” or “like” their favorite establishments, and they want engagement!  An active social media presence helps you acknowledge customers quickly and address questions or concerns instantly. Where are you located? What time do you open? Are reservations required? Do you cover dietary restrictions and allergies? These answers and more should be only a click away.

Businesses who directly respond to a patron’s complaint through social engagement (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) increased their customer advocacy by an astounding 25%. Social media establishes a line of open communication with your customers that’s become the expectation. Patrons want to be heard and appreciated by businesses. When customers search social media for restaurants, they have 24/7 access to details and a direct line of communication.

Customers also search for restaurants in their friends’ social media feeds and posts. That’s why it pays to see where you’re tagged and what folks are saying about your establishment.  When someone posts a #foodshare from your dining room, be sure to like it and give a comment. Creating these connections helps you build relationships with your customers. They feel more like friends, and they’ll keep coming back to visit.

For restaurants, social media helps create meaningful relationships. There are so many ways to engage with customers through different platforms. The visual nature and flexibility of Instagram and Facebook offers restaurants the most bang for your buck (although some restaurant owners also see good engagement with Twitter as well). Whatever platform you prefer, social media provides restaurants with an easy way to click with customers.

2. Social Media is an Inexpensive Way to Advertise

Word-of-mouth and old-fashioned advertising are no longer enough to maintain the stamina you need in the food and beverage industry. Hospitality is social by nature and nothing works better than social media for restaurants if they want to attract new clients.

The restaurant industry is based on sensory experiences. While customers may enjoy with their taste buds, they also expect a feast for eyes as well. Instagram caters to the visual experience by allowing you to post photos and videos. Share the delicious new dishes your chiefs are cooking and the one-of-a-kind drinks your bartenders are mixing up. Post photos, graphics, weekly specials, customer pics, and more.

Facebook is another popular platform perfect for attracting new business to your restaurant. A Facebook Live video featuring your chef is different and fun. A Q&A session captures customers’ attention and helps them connect. Facebook is also a great place for stretching your advertising budget. You can target ads to your preferred audience demographics and really draw in the customers who you know will love your food.

83% of customers use their phones to lookup a restaurant’s location, directions, hours, and more. Remember, when potential patrons Google your restaurant to get this background information, links to your social media accounts often appear. Take the time to tighten up your search engine optimization (SEO) and keep an eye on your online search presence. Social media plays an enormous role in expanding your business and increasing profits, making it a smart way to advertise.

3. Social Media Gives You Brand Authority and Industry Presence

Having strong social media practices in place will work wonders for improving your restaurant’s brand authority and establishing your presence as an important player in your town’s restaurant scene. Don’t forget, the number of followers you have on each platform is worth something! Every new customer or interested person who follows you, likes a photo, or shares your post is helping to grow your restaurant’s reputation and presence. Each social interaction is beneficial for your restaurant’s brand.

In addition to the number of followers, WHO you follow and if they’re following you back also says a lot. Form relationships with local food critics and even prominent Influencers and local celebrities to gain a mutual follow. When customers see your local “Bobby Flay” and “Guy Fieri” are following you they’ll NEED to try your restaurant right away. Your followers add value to your company and improve your brand’s authority among competitors.

Effective social media for restaurants also establishes your online presence in the industry. If every other brewery restaurant in the area has an Instagram account and you don’t, it may negatively impact the way customers view your business. Social media establishes your restaurant as a competitor and active brand within the industry. Whether it’s giving customers a personal look into your everyday operation or how you grow your very own fresh ingredients on a rooftop garden, customers view social media to learn about your restaurant. Social media helps you develop and grow your relationship.

Today’s customers are turning to platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter to explore a restaurant before they visit. Fair or not, this is the way of modern marketing. Its important restaurant owners adapt to meet customer needs and keep up building connections.

Effective social media for restaurants attracts more customer engagement, draws in new business, and establishes your brand authority. Social media has taken over the marketing world. Now is the time to jump on board!

Featured image via Unsplash. Post images licensed for use via Unsplash licensing.