Social Media for Food Businesses

A few times a month, I will post articles from my monthly “Food Consulting” Newsletter.  Click here to receive the newsletter by email.

The prevalence of social media has created new, low-cost marketing tools for the entrepreneur. It also presents challenges as we seek new ways to maximize our efforts and stand out in the sea of tweets, buzzes and status updates. While these outlets can enhance marketing efforts, they should not replace more traditional methods of print advertising, email blasts and press releases. Traditional marketing still plays an important role.

Facebook is perhaps the most dynamic marketing tool a business owner can use. More and more, restaurants use Facebook as their primary web presence, and the more traditional websites become a static afterthought.

Bergamot uses Facebook to post its nightly dinner specials. Pizzeria Posto engages its customers by asking their opinions – on anything from naming a new drink to whether they should open for weekend lunch.  Toro announces special events. Rialto and Chez Henri post musings from behind the scenes giving their patrons an insider’s view to their restaurant.

Atlanta-based Vitrue offers several tips to make the most of your Facebook posts:

  •  The most successful posts have photos, rather than plain text or video clips.
  •  Posts in the afternoon have more engagement than those in the morning – when potential customers are thinking about dinner.
  •  Wednesday posts garner the most attention, over weekend or early-week posts.  Thursday and Friday posts come in second in attention grabbing potential.

Twitter does not have the reach of Facebook but has become an important tool for mobile food trucks such as Clover. With easy access from mobile phones, food trucks can easily announce their location in real time. Restaurants also use Twitter to announce special discounts and new menu items.

Dr. Ola Ayeni, Chief Idea Officer of Dining Dialog, offers these tips for using Twitter:

  • Announce your new menu or drink specials of the day to your followers
  • Promote a happy hour event or special restaurant event to customers via twitter
  • Start a promotion and allow people to sample your food and in-turn invite their friends to your restaurant.
  • Ask for ideas for new menu items or specials of the day from your followers on twitter
  • Offer a special prize for people who follow you on Twitter by a specific time and date, to be entered to win something free like a free bottle of wine or gift certificate.

The newest entrant into the world of social media is Foursquare. It requires less attention from the business owner, but still offers the potential for buzz.  According to Foursquare, “Foursquare aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. We do this by combining our friend-finder and social city guide elements with game mechanics – our users earn points, win mayorships and unlock badges for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.”

Subscribers to Foursquare announce where they are through the mobile phone application, and then it is posted to their facebook page. Users can post recommendations and tips for a particular spot, allowing the restaurant owner to follow what their customers are saying.  Business owners can also offer specials to its Foursquare users.

Inc. Magazine offers tips on how to promote loyalty and drive revenues using Foursquare.

What social media tactics have you found most helpful?

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