It’s a zoo out there on social media, and the hospitality space is no exception – don’t get caught off guard. Your first order of business is to stay calm, and keep in mind some social media basics:
Do: Be Positive, Listen, and Be Yourself. In a nutshell, always strive to be positive, even when others are rude or negative, listen to what is said so you can respond appropriately, and be your genuine self. These 3 principles are important basics to constantly keep in mind to protect and grow your brand. When you put your best foot forward online, your passion for hospitality shines through. After all, that’s why you’re in this business. And when you listen to what your customers are saying, you build loyal, lasting relationships with them.
Don’t: Complain, Abuse Hashtags, or Misspell. Just like we say to stay positive, it also means to avoid negative or mean comments, engaging in undesirable online behavior including “hashtag soup” – irrelevant, run-on hashtags – and the horror of misspelled words and bad grammar. It will go a long way for you to serve up your social media in the same spotless and sparkling manner as your food. Let your brand shine on social media in the same way it does in person or in your signature dish.
These Social Media Dos & Don’ts are important to remember whenever you engage your audience online. But beyond these basics, we’d like to dive into 5 more things to consider to survive the digital jungle.
Getting Connected & Setup
- Use your business email to setup your account, not your personal email. It makes sense when they say to never mix business with your personal life.
- Make usernames and handles easy and as close to your brand’s name as possible, unless that the username is not available. You want your customer to easily find your restaurant – both in person and online.
- Use recognizable images as your profile and cover images. Consider your logo, store front, or signature dish that you’re known for.
- Share who you are in the ‘about’ section, provide background on your restaurant, and why you’re in business. Don’t forget to add your contact info like your phone number and a link to your website. This section lets you be yourself, so take advantage of it. Be authentic, passionate, and highlight why you do what you do.
Big Daddy’s shows us a stellar example of reflecting their brand on social. The handles match their name, are easily recognizable, and consistent. Logos and images are on brand, and in this post they highlight their monthly milkshake special flavors while also showing off their location. Check out Big Daddy’s Facebook Page and Instagram:
Had a blast yesterday with our takeover by @twobetchesonefork – be sure to check out their account for a special discount! Come in on for milkshake happy hour today from 3 – 5 pm! . . . #bigdaddysnyc #eeeeeats #huffposttaste #buzzfeedfoods #infatuation #foodies #nycfoodies #foodporn #newforkcity #eatupnewyork #onthetable #infatuationyc #neverfullnewyork #spoonfeed #foodielife #diningout #foodiesofinstagram #heresmyfood #seriouseats #goodeats #eatingfortheinsta #milkshakes #happyhour #halfoff
Guidelines & Policies
- Establish guidelines and a social media policy to protect your brand.
- Define what should be shared, as well as what shouldn’t. Clearly set expectations regarding what’s confidential and proprietary, so your team knows where you stand.
- Outline topics to avoid such as politics or religion, and make it known that your company reserves the right to remove any inappropriate posts.
- Empower your employees by letting them join the conversation when creating your policy. Brainstorming works better with a team, when multiple minds can provide insights. Your staff can drive brand awareness forward among their own social channels; letting them know what consistent messaging looks like allows them to do so in a creative, yet productive way.
- Be open to change. The social media landscape is constantly changing and at a rapid pace. Stay on top of key social trends and happenings, just like you do with the culinary arts and other restaurant trends.
Pay Attention & Engage
- This is where listening plays a key role in engaging your customers. Do you know what’s being said online to you or about you? Respond to direct messages, webpage comments or posts, or social media tags as quickly as you can. Engaging with your followers in a timely and meaningful manner gains their loyalty; thank them for posting about stopping by to help ensure repeat visits to your restaurant.
- Check out the competition. Just like keeping up with trends is important, so is keeping up with the competition. See what they’re sharing, and don’t shy away from engaging with them or sharing one of their activities if it’s appropriate.
- Engaging also means dealing with the negative. With a focus on staying positive, acknowledge, address, and when needed, apologize to negative comments, reviews, or posts.
- Be flawsome! If you make a mistake, own it and make it right. Showing your human side on social media makes you more authentic and shows your appreciation to all your followers – not just the happy ones.
- Know how to identify and engage with your social influencers (link). Influencers are people who drive others to take action on social media. These could be industry leaders or they could be everyday people who influence their social networks. Either way, reach out to, get acquainted, and involve yourself with your influencers. Engaging these heavy hitter followers will help you create superfans!
Content & Delivery
- Just like everything else you do, creating content works best if you set goals that align with your branding strategy.
- Remember what we said about why you shouldn’t create hashtags just for the sake of creating hashtags? The same goes for content. Don’t just post for the sake of posting. Aim to increase your visibility on social media by telling your brand’s story in a captivating way to drive that awareness and spread the word.
- Facebook lets you upload images, videos, and links, in addition to sharing or updating your status. You can also post offers on your page. As a best practice, try to post about 2-3 relevant posts per day.
- Twitter calls their posts “tweets,” and is the most real-time of the social networks. Keep tweets short and concise, as the character limit is 140. You can also engage by re-tweeting – sharing someone else’s tweet on your feed. With the 140-character limit, it’s also good practice to use no more than 2 hashtags, and to shorten hyperlinks – bitly can help with this.
- Instagram is all about the pictures. Show your followers who you are and what you’re passionate about with meaningful behind the scenes shots or an inside look into your organization. There are tons of filters you can use to enhance your images. While you can add a description to your image, Instagram is the place for lots of hashtags – up to 30 per post! But you still need to remember to keep your hashtags relevant, and avoid hashtag soup.
Each platform has its own unique way of garnering engagement with your customers. Don’t worry, we’ll take a deep dive into each platform over the next several weeks on our blog.
- Social media is best measured by engagement. Likes, re-tweets, and follows are considered low-weight engagement, as they require minimal action from users. Heavy engagement, on the other hand, is what you are looking for. Interactions with your followers such as comments, shares, and tags give your brand a wider reach, while giving you a better indicator of how far your messaging is going and who your audience is.
- Review the goals you set for your content creation. Is your content reaching your customers? Are you getting the right message across? Evaluating your social media strategy and its success will help you adjust your content and messaging if needed so you stay relevant and engaged with your followers.
- Timing is also a consideration to take into account. Does a post 30 mins before lunch time dirve more traffic to your restaurant? How about posts about your dinner specials? Play around with what time of day you post to see what times or days see the highest engagement. This could be a key differentiator in reaching your audience. Take a look at this infographic on what 20 studies say about the best time to post on each platform.
Phew that was a lot, wasn’t it? Did you furiously take notes? Bookmark this page? Social media can be frenzy for sure, and we’re here to help cut through the noise and make it easier for you to conquer it. Download our Social Media Survival Guide below, and be sure to check back for more in-depth coverage of best practices for each platform!
See you next time! Until then –