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National Restaurant Association - Social Media 101

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Social Media 101

Whole books have been written about the revolutionary changes wrought by social media. The rise of technology driven by personal interactions is changing the way we live.

Think about it. Facebook has over a billion users now. Twitter is arguably an online institution. Instagram has more than 600 monthly users. Things are changing fast.

While no one knows what the next big thing will be, the general consensus is that this exploding field will continue to have important consequences. But like all any technology, its potential power is determined by how it’s used.

Social media platforms can greatly help you reach and win over more customers. Let’s start with some helpful general tips about social media as a whole.

  • Sign up! Yes, this one’s a no-brainer. Start your business accounts now, if you haven’t already. The sooner you start actively using these tools, the sooner it will become like a habit. Establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest (and using them regularly) can also do wonders for boosting your search rankings.
  • Strategize. It’s not ideal to start posting things just for the sake of “doing something.” You need a content strategy. Sit down and seriously think through your mission and goals for your social media usage. This will help keep you on track and on message, even if your content strategy is basic.
  • Always keep your audience in mind. What do your customers need to know? What information would they find most beneficial? What would demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in your industry? What would show how likeable your staff is? Every message should be tailored to your customers, whether it’s inspiring them to act, spreading the word about your restaurant or an upcoming event, or just using humor to be friendlier and more likable.
  • Pick teams. You should clearly delineate roles responsible for keeping your social media accounts updated. Who is responsible for writing blog posts? Tweeting? Posting to Facebook? Maybe it’s always you; maybe it’s someone on your staff who already has been taking this on; maybe there are multiple people with admin access. These decisions are crucial to achieve consistency and quality control.
  • Make it easy to connect and share. Every page of your website, and all your communications, should include your social media links. It’s a must for increasing your followers and getting them to share your material with others.
  • Don’t talk about yourself all the time. It may seem counterintuitive, but your social media accounts should be used for self-promotion only very selectively. If you’re always talking about your business and nothing else, people will tune you out. Focus more on sharing great content, whether it’s food tips, engaging videos, foodie trends, recipes, ingredients, or even random items that you find entertaining.
  • Talk back. When somebody Tweets about you or likes you on Facebook or refers to you on Instagram, respond to them! Say thank you, like them back, start a conversation. Just like you would in real life. And if for some reason you receive a negative review (it happens to the best of us), it’s often helpful to respond directly to that unhappy customer and try to make amends. They’ll often update their review and turn it into something positive for your restaurant.
  • Pick your followers’ brains. A great trick for spurring engagement is to ask open-ended questions or let your followers vote on something. You can even have a contest where people enter through one of your social media pages. This has shown to encourage interaction (naturally).
  • Put social media in context. Consider the big picture. The underlying purpose of all these new developments is part of something timeless: People love talking to each other, making connections, telling stories. That’s really what it’s all about.

You wouldn’t think twice about having a sign outside your restaurant, right? Well, the Internet is the new Main Street. It’s the new Yellow Pages. Not having a social media presence today is essentially the same as hiding your restaurant from your current and potential patrons. And why would you want to do that?

This content was provided by Mopro.

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