If you start a conversation or launch a web search on the topic of restaurant marketing, you’re likely going to see a lot of repetition of the phrase ‘social media.’ That’s no surprise – these days it’s a social media world and we’re just living in it, and any restaurant trying to market itself knows that social media is a huge part of any modern marketing plan.
But the frequency of references to social media might give the impression that social media is all you need these days – or that even if it’s just one part of more complete marketing strategy, social media can be an island unto itself. Neither approach is going to yield the best results. Social media works best when it’s mixed in and supported by other aspects of your marketing and, most importantly, the real-time experience that patrons have in your dining room.
Social Media Generation
The key misapprehension many marketers have about social media is the assumption that it exists separately from other aspects of people’s lives – sort of like a separate track of existence. But for most people, especially the members of the so-called Millennial Generation who grew up online, social media is completely integrated into their lives. It’s not something they make special time for as if they’re on some 1990s-era dial up connection and have to schedule their Internet usage. They’re on social media all the time, always connected, a constant stream of communication.
Your social media marketing strategy has to take that into consideration – it can’t assume that people will read your tweets or other posts at specific times, or that they will respond to your social media efforts precisely when you invite them too. You have to make social media part of the dining experience: Encourage tweeting about their meal, check-ins on Apps, and other online reactions to the experience they’re having in your restaurant.
Two Way Approach
You also can’t regard marketing as a small-scale stream of sales pitches pushed out one-way – social media and other online platforms are treated as two-way streets by modern users. Even more importantly, most social media users – especially Millennials – reject any old-school ideas of priority. Everyone has the same bandwidth online, and anyone can rise above the noise and be heard if they’re clever enough, or useful enough.
As a result, you have to make your marketing interactive and integrated. Respond to your patrons in real time as much as possible. Use their names and personalize. Pay attention to their comments and try to tailor your decisions to them when it comes to changes in the menu, the decor, or restaurant policies.
The more interactive and integrated you can make your marketing, the more response you’ll generate, and the more effective your marketing messages will be overall. Stop thinking one-dimensionally, and start thinking in terms of a give and take, and you’ll be better equipped to connect with your patrons.