I’ve seen it happen before. It’s the mistake that many restaurant and cafe owners make. The failure to acknowledge the importance of marketing.
Marketing is what determines the survival of a good restaurant. Even when you have a three star Michelin Chef, raving reviews for your food from around the world, and some of the best service in the city, your restaurant can still close. This was the case for the now defunct, but famous restaurants, Lumiere’s and db Bistro Moderne in Vancouver, Canada which was run by world famous chef Daniel Boulud.
What was interesting was that once people knew it was closing down, people I knew were talking about it on Twitter, Facebook, and spreading the word about it virally, including local TV personalities. Strangely, they received a lot of publicity and marketing, but at too late of a stage and for the wrong reasons.
So how do you prevent yourself from getting in the same situation? What can you do to market your restaurant so that customers think of you when they want a place to eat? Here are three social media tools to help market your restaurant so that customers always think about you.
Social Media Tool Number 3: Facebook Fan Page
I’m not going to go into the details of how to create a fan page. But I will tell you the one key ingredient to Facebook marketing. Interaction with your online customers.
It’s actually possible that a customer will “Like” your restaurant and never see messages you post again on their Facebook news feed, and that’s because of EdgeRank. Edgerank is a formula that Facebook uses to calculate how important you are to be on a Facebook user’s newsfeed when the user logs in. If EdgeRank thinks that your restaurant isn’t important to their user, then it’s not going to show up high on their news feed.
So how do you get your EdgeRank higher so that users see your restaurant when they login?
a) Interact with your customers online, and interact often.
If you’re always advertising what your specials are, and are telling customers how great your restaurant is, that’s not very interactive. And Facebook wants interaction, it’s in their mission statement. When customers leave comments, good or bad, respond to them professionally and quickly.
If you were to ignore them, it’s the same as a waiter ignoring a customer. (By the way for EdgeRank, if you can get customers to respond to your comments instead of just pushing “Like” it will push you up your customers’ news feed.)
b) Give them a reason to interact with you and want to leave a comment.
I ran a contest for a Starbucks in which there were about 100 customers in the “Like” Group at the time. I asked our customers on Facebook to guess a number between 1-100 for a chance to win a $20 Gift Card. About 16% of the people responded back. I gave them a reason to actually comment and this made me more visible on the customers’ newsfeed.
c) Get them to post photos.
People love looking at photos, and the more photos they see of people having a good time, eating great food, then they’ll remember to come to your restaurant more often. So give them a reason to post photos, usually restaurants do it through contests as well. Check out Milestone’s Restaurant to see their Facebook campaign, and how they created such a wonderful interaction with customers.
In part 2 of this series, we look at how to use Twitter and mobile marketing to promote your restaurant.