In this day and era, having an online presence for restaurants like you does not simply mean merely existing on that very platform. Just like how having a social media account, website or e-commerce system does not equate to having a presence, but rather an entity that’s present on these platforms. You need to realize the indispensable power of possessing an online presence that might be the winning formula to propel the business both on and offline.
Why is there a need for an online presence/online marketing?
Don’t underestimate the power and extent of outreach of having an online presence which will prove to grow your business in the long run. Being an easy, convenient and timely option, you will be able to release snippets of information about your restaurant. This is exactly the type of marketing that you should pay more attention to! Why? Simply because it's free of charge and you are in total control of the materials you put up for your viewers. Online marketing is to ultimately get your name out there and to allow people to learn about your brand. It presents you the opportunity to convert them into your prospective customers and achieve higher customer trust and loyalty.
How Then Can You Increase Your Chances Of Being The ‘Right’ One?
You will need a combination of these 3 platforms/strategies to build your online presence: Social media, Content Creation and Seo
1. Social Media
Social Media platforms are especially useful for engagements with customers. If you already have a social media account, I would say that’s both good and not so good news. Good news would be that you need not create another account whereas the not so good news would be that you most probably weren’t using it the right way (marketing) or even putting much effort in maintaining it.
Lori Ruff. (@loriruff) “Social media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media."
Here’s our tip for you:
Firstly, make sure you have an account for both Facebook, Instagram, and Google+. Now it’s time to beautify or revamp your accounts to make sure it ties in with your brand. The color, theme, background wallpaper and display banner must be properly coordinated.
You should use your facebook account to do most of the interactions. Leave comments, answer inquiries and reply feedbacks on your social media account. Let your customers know you are always “around”, it’s crucial to maintain a friendly connection with them. It is best that you try to find out more about your customers, what their interests are, what they might prefer according to their daily activities online with the Facebook Page insights feature. Make a friend out of your customers, make that relationship one that is built on trust and loyalty.
Bonnie Sainsbury (@bsainsbury) “Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.”
Update photos of your food items on your menu as regularly as possible, this is a form of marketing. People like to see pictures, they are always curious and are more often than not clueless about what they want for their next meal. You can create that unconscious influence in the form of cravings. Make them feel like they will crave your food in the next moment. Capture their stomach when they least expect it or when they are making choices for their next meal.
Create infographics for a special event or promotions that you intend to carry out, while ensuring that it’s properly targeted at the right audience.
Make use of the live video feature on Facebook, show your customers what your company is doing, be it live at an event, information about a contest or even for a promotion. This actually allows your readers/customers to grab a sneak peek of your staff, the human interactions, your food items as well as the entire atmosphere within the working environment.
Also, if you have a website or online ordering system/shopping cart you will be able to embed the link on your facebook page with a “shop now” tab to allow for easier access and convenience.
Power your social media account with pictures of your food items placed against a nice background. Use around 3-5 hashtags that are relevant and which includes a little humor injected into them as an appeal. It might very well attract prospective customers to go on and check out your Facebook account to observe the interactions and other general details available there.
An example of successful social media platforms by F&B companies would have to be Macdonald, who ranked 1st in social media platforms by their efforts in engaging their customers.
Believe it or not, Google+ is gaining more popularity as a social media tool that restaurants cannot afford to miss out on. With Google+, it means that your restaurant will be linked to Google Maps and this would direct traffic and prospective customers to you.
Are 3 social media accounts too much to handle? Fret not. You can use the HootSuite tool to help monitor all your social media platforms and allow you to curate scheduled messages to be published as well as receive timely notifications when a customer wants to converse with you via these platforms.
2. Content Creation
Content creation and/or content marketing have become an increasingly imperative element for restaurants to build their business. Especially since the bulk of your prospective customers are constantly online.
“Content is the reason search began in the first place.” – @leeodden
“What do you think they do?”
They search for content, blogs, links that can inform or educate them on various restaurants (food choices) and or other related information that they might stumble upon.
What then influences their decision-making process?That would be the online presence of a restaurant, the availability of their restaurant menu, the customer reviews, the ease to reach out to a restaurant and the customer interactions that they have.
So why not use this opportunity to grow your food business by reaching out to more readers?
“These days, people want to learn before they buy, be educated instead of pitched.” @brianclark
With that being said, it would be highly beneficial to create content with the help of local food bloggers who are identified as social media influencers as well due to their large followings. Create a campaign by engaging in these food bloggers/ social media influencers with a food tasting event for a newly launched or yet to be launched food item. Such as LadyIronChef (1m visitors/month), DanielFoodDiary(800k visitors/ month)
It would be advisable to record a video showing the various food bloggers trying out the dishes and their afterthoughts. This video content can add a little spice on your social media platforms while it also makes it easy for the influencers to share on theirs - “I have just tried the newly launched salted egg yolk hamburger…..watch this video to check out more details". This helps to pique the interest of their readers, driving more traffic to your social media platforms which in turns strengthens your online presence.
But don’t just stop at the food tasting event for these food bloggers, offer them a sponsorship or promotion code for dining in/meal deliveries. With that, you will be able to forge a favorable relationship with these food bloggers which benefits both parties.
Keep in mind that content marketing is one key factor to building your online presence because it helps to widen your reader base and converts them into prospective customers.
A study shows that website conversion rate is nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%).
It is crucial for your restaurant to be ranked among the first few searches on Google so that people will be bound to land on your social media sites/ websites and or e- commerce platforms. Especially with Google statistics showing that 88% of customers actually make their way to a restaurant within 24 hours based after researching for more information online. http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/importance-local-businesses-being-found-mobile-devices-infographic
How then to achieve SEO?
You need to include keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business, and are used in a caption, message, description or content on the various platforms mentioned above. For all your social media platforms, ensure that you have a consistent name that is both relevant and unique enough that Google is able to optimize it. This also applies to the URLs of your respective platforms. It would be preferable to customize a URL that reflects your brand personality yet remains consistent across all the platforms.
With this winning formula, which you can refer to, chances of gaining an online presence or in strengthening your online presence will be way higher than before.
If you prefer to move beyond just having social media platforms as an interactive and informative platform for your restaurant, you might want to consider establishing your own online ordering system. With your online presence, you will be able to drive traffic to your shopping carts and increase your sales revenue. After all,
“Social media replaces nothing but complements everything.”—Neal Schaffer