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Restaurants can benefit significantly from being active on social media. Social Media is a great vehicle to be discovered by new clients, to reach out to customers who would never have known about your restaurant, to build loyalty in current clients, and it is a fantastic customer service platform. It can also detract attention from review sites and allow you to control your brand. But before you start posting willy-nilly, you need to get yourself organized. Follow these steps and your restaurant can have a solid Social Media plan that will convert your social media audience into customers in seats. This is your sample social media plan to get you started.

Social Media Plan For Restaurants

Figure Out Your Digital Audience

You may think you know your clients, but creating a persona will be one of the most important things you can do. This will allow you to properly select the social networks you should be active in and how to market to them. In order to figure this out, get a piece of paper and ask yourself the following:

  1. Where are they located – city/ies, neighborhoods?
  2. Age – are your customers in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc
  3. Gender – are your customers men or women?
  4. Income – how much money does your customer make
  5. Education level – have they completed college?
  6. Work – what do they do?
  7. Lifestyle – what do they like, what are their values?
  8. Why would they come to your restaurant?
  9. Social networks – what social networks do they frequent?
  10. Verticals – what other brands and businesses do they like?
  11. Devices – Is your customer on their laptop, tablet, or smartphone?

You can end up with something like this.

Mary is a 35-year-old mom in Manhattan. Her household makes 150,000 per year. Mary went to college and works at a financial firm. She likes yoga, shopping, and massages. Mary checks Facebook on a daily basis but is becoming more active on Instagram and Pinterest. She is usually on her iPhone.

Clearly Define Your Goals

Same as your customer, you may think you know your goals (to get more customers to your restaurant), but you need more clearly defined goals to get to this point. Here are a few examples:

Get more visibility on Social media
Establish your restaurant to be seen as casual, healthy, and good for kids
Push out deals and events to customers
Bring in extra revenue via catering and special events
Drive more website traffic
Promote Seamless delivery




However, these are a bit broad. Once you have defined those broad goals, fine-tune them so they can be measured. For example:

Increase social media engagement by 25%
Increase clicks to reservations from social media by 15%
Increase Seamless orders from Facebook by 10% Month-over-Month

That means you need to measure your current stats, set those measurable goals, and keep track of your performance on a monthly basis so you can make changes if your strategy is not working.

Define Your Content Strategy

Before you start creating social media content, you need to figure out exactly the type of content you will push out on each Social Media network. This can include anything from

Text posts
Picture posts
Videos
Memes
Polls
Weekly deals
Ads & Contests
Press & Reviews

Develop a Social Media Schedule

Use a social media calendar platform like Socialdraft. This will allow you to schedule content ahead of time, and allow you time to manage your business. This is a sample Social Schedule to get you started. Again (and we will discuss this later) you will need to look at analytics to review what is/is not working and then edit your calendar, goals, etc…

Facebook

Once a day – alternate between daily specials, team photos, memes, food pictures, chef videos.
Set aside a small budget to advertise your posts on Facebook.

Twitter

Schedule 3 daily tweets, one each an hour before each service – all should include an image
Retweet supplier’s tweets to work off their audience (wine, coffee, produce, desserts)
Run weekly contests
Big emphasis on Food photos
Use geo-targeted hashtags (e.g. #neighborhood #city)
Playoff trending themes
Comment and like posts from 5 potential customers by searching people posting about your geo-location

Pinterest

Create boards: geo-location, recipes, staff, cocktails, customers. events.
Engage with suppliers on Pinterest
Engage with potential clients

Instagram

Schedule posts once a day to come out 1 hour before your most popular service
Engage 10-100 people who like and comment on your competitor’s photos
Follow people who like businesses in your geo-location

Website

Set up Google Analytics to track social traffic
Update your blog with local information
Update photo gallery monthly

How to Manage Your Restaurant’s Social Media

This basic plan should get you started. This will most likely change as you see which social network and the types of posts and content that get you the most traffic. Using a social media tool like Socialdraft will make all this easier. Why should a restaurant use a social media scheduling tool?

Restaurant work is hectic. If you don’t schedule your content, what will happen when staff calls out? 
Restaurant management takes time, pulling reports directly from Social Media site (and making sense of them) can be a time suck. Socialdraft is a social media tool that offers easy to generate visual reports so you can easily understand what is going on with your social media.
Socialdraft allows you to give other team members access to schedule content, but you decide how much control they have or if you need to approve content before it is published. Imagine having your bartender schedule the week’s cocktails and your chef schedule weekly specials to your social media accounts.

There is a ton more that you can do with Socialdraft, so take us for a risk-free trial today!

In the restaurant business, prompt, courteous service from the wait staff is crucial, but this alone won’t guarantee your restaurant’s success. When interacting with guests, managers, servers, and even cashiers should all be trained in the subtle art of upselling, or suggestive selling. Upselling involves the artful suggestion of more expensive but higher quality food and beverage items from the menu in order to increase sales, and the dollar amount of the guest check, which by the way adds to the seller’s tip, so it is a win win for everyone. Let’s discuss some strategy on how to increase restaurant sales.

How to Increase Restaurant Sales

For example — when a customer orders a martini, instead of immediately leaving the table to place the order, the server should suggest a top-shelf gin such as Beefeater. Of course, the optimal time for servers to upsell is when the customer asks for their opinion. In all other cases the server should limit their pitch to one and possibly two upsell suggestions. Subtlety is imperative with upselling because if the customer feels pressured, you risk losing that customer’s business altogether.

Suggestive selling requires knowledge of your menu

Know The Menu

By thoroughly knowing the menu, the wines, desserts, and top-shelf liquor used in cocktails, servers can make informed suggestions and customers will view upselling as quality service and not a sales pitch. By being well acquainted with menu items, dessert offerings, and wine and food pairings, servers can make specific suggestions. Instead of offering wine, the seller should offer a specific Chardonnay to go with fish, and not just offer dessert, but dark chocolate cheesecake for dessert.

Additionally, when customers make special requests, allow servers to make executive decisions at a customer’s table by informing servers in advance what accommodations they can make when a customer requests a special dish. For example, can a customer substitute a side dish normally served with another entree? Or if there are no vegan menu items, know ahead of time what kind of vegan dish the chef will prepare. In other words, severs should know what to suggest to customers making special requests without having to consult the kitchen.




Train Servers Often and Well

In-service training periods should be given on a regular basis so servers can become familiar with all menu items, their ingredients and appropriate wine and food pairings. But servers should also be well acquainted with top-shelf liquor brands and should know what dishes are not available at any given time. There’s a very fine line between offering helpful suggestions and badgering customers by putting pressure them to make additional purchases or buy more expensive items.

Know Your Customers

Each restaurant has different customers. If you don’t already have a customer persona, create one. You can create one from visual cues, or you can do a deep dive into Google analytics or even social media analytics to find out who actually comes in.  Train your team to ask certain questions that will allow them to better understand their customers’ personal preferences and then offer particular menu suggestions.

Make the Upsell Exciting

When upselling, customers will only be excited about their server’s suggestions if the servers are. To help your wait staff to become more convincing upsellers, set aside time during your daily meetings to set up mock scenarios. They may feel silly practicing their upselling techniques, but once they’re on the floor, this will make things flow significantly better.

You can also upsell before the customer ever gets to your restaurant. Think about it, all those social media posts can be used to showcase those upsell items making your server’s tasks even easier.

Implement useful technology tools

More and more bars and restaurants are now offering their guests technology tools to enhance their dining experience. For example, there are iPad menus with wine pairing apps featuring a virtual Sommelier who educates them tableside about its extensive wine list. You can also set up Facebook Wi-Fi to increase check-ins and fans to your page. Make use of these tools and you are sure to see your restaurant profits increase.

Listen to customer feedback

Typically customers will let their server know, even if subtly, how they are feeling throughout the dining experience. By asking basic questions, such as: “Do you know about our specials this evening?” or “Can I suggest a wonderful wine choice for your entrée?” will let the server know whether or not their guests are receptive to additional menu suggestions.

Go beyond getting feedback at the restaurant. Set up a reputation management dashboard (like Socialdraft) so you can always know when customers mention you on line. Then, look for patterns and take action as needed to correct the bad and amplify the good.

Take Your Time on Check Out

A mistake servers often make is that they close out the guest check way too early. Doing this hinders their ability to upsell and can put off some guests who see it as a sign that you want to turn a cover. Servers should never assume that their guests aren’t interested in dessert or another round of drinks until they have asked.

With these basic techniques, you can ensure that upselling provides your restaurant anith a additional revenue flow, without compromising the customer experience.

According to Nielsen, internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. The total time spent on social media on PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011. This means that restaurants can use social media as customer service. Let’s explore how.

Social Media as Customer Service Tool for Restaurants

Social media has proved to be an excellent online tool for restaurants and small businesses by helping your company gain exposure, cultivate relationships, and communicate with your targeted audience. For small businesses, the benefits of social media have extended beyond social sharing to reputation building, increasing business, bringing in career opportunities, and aggressively addressing customer service needs.

The Starbucks Experience

My Starbucks Idea 

In 2012, Starbucks initiated one-on-one customer engagement across their social media accounts. This included responding to criticism and welcoming positive feedback. They also started an additional account, @MyStarBucksIdeas where customers can submit their ideas for making the entire Starbucks experience better. That account alone has more than 45,000 followers, while the Starbucks Facebook page has more than 35 million likes.

Eleven Madison Park Customer Service

Eleven Madison Park does Research on all their Clients

Eleven Madison Park Googles the names of every guest who will come in each night. It’s a well-known tactic of the restaurant in an effort to be as familiar as possible with the diners. If, for example, the maître d’ discovers it’s a couple’s anniversary, he’ll then try to figure out which anniversary. If it’s a birthday, he’ll welcome a guest, as they walk in the door, with a “Happy Birthday.”

According to Eleven Madison Park maître d’Justin Roller, even small details are useful: “If I find out a guest is from Montana, and I know we have a server from there, we’ll put them together. In other words, before customers even step through the door, the restaurant’s staff has a pretty good idea of the things it can do to specifically blow their minds.”

Three Customer Service Tips Small Businesses

Ragy Thomas, CEO and co-founder of a social relationship management system, points out that larger brands have discovered being responsive to consumers on social media is one important way to provide great customer service. Thomas offered the following three tips for small businesses that want to utilize social networks to their full customer-centric potential:

Customer Relationship through social media

* Build real customer relationships. Many businesses approach social media as another marketing channel for self-promotion and don’t always respond when customers comment on their posts or tweet at them. Use your Facebook and Twitter accounts as an opportunity to build real relationships with your customers by engaging in conversation.

* Focus on creating a customer advocate base. If a customer has a bad experience with a company, one of the first things he or she is likely to do is write about it on social media. Instead of figuring out how to manage and respond to those negative comments, businesses should focus on providing such excellent service that they create a strong, loyal customer base that will advocate on their behalf if someone has something bad to say.

Social Media as Mirror

* Remember that social media is a mirror. No matter how good you are at responding to social media interactions, your customer service ultimately rests on how well you run your business. If your business is going well and customers love you, that’s reflected on social media. If they dislike you, social networks become a tool to amplify their voice.

Here are three social media tips to enhance customer service for restaurants, courtesy of Lorri Mealey.

Offer Tours of Your Restaurant

A great way to show off your digs to new customers is through a short video tour. All you need is a cell phone camera to upload videos automatically to Facebook. Give a guided tour of your dining room, bar and outside seating areas. Make sure the camera work is steady and it’s well narrated. If you don’t know anything about videos, ask among your staff. Chances are, one of them will have some experience posting videos to Youtube or other social media sites.

Post Tutorial Videos

In a world inundated with celebrity chefs and cooking shows, there is no reason you can’t make your own cooking videos for your customers. Consider making some how-to videos featuring your chef or bartender (assuming neither is camera shy). Video your chef making a house specialty or your bartender showing how to mix the perfect martini. You might have to shoot a couple takes to get it right.

Coupons and Discounts

Offer Coupons and Other Discounts Through Social Media

Reward loyal customers with coupons or other discounts for “liking” your status or “retweeting” your tweets. Make sure any discounts are clearly labeled and have an expiration date- like “Like this photo and get a free appetizer tonight, only!” Otherwise you could find yourself giving food away for weeks and months to come.
Address Customer Complaints

If a customer takes the time to post a complaint on your Facebook wall or other social media site, you need to take the time to address it. Instead of seeing it as a problem, view it as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. You will be surprised too, to find that often other customers will counter any complaints with their own positive experiences at your restaurant. Read on for more about handling customer complaints.

How to Manage & Grow Your Social Media Accounts

 Socialdraft is your all-in-one tool for Social Media management. Socialdraft allows you to:

  • Schedule posts to multiple Social media accounts
  • Keep tabs on your online reputation
  • Have multiple people create and post content
  • Pull Reports
  • Engage
  • and much more

If you’re curious about how Socialdraft works, take us for a risk-free trial. Have questions?