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10 Jul 2023

From followers to Diners, How to Convert Your Social Media Followers into Restaurant Customers

In a world obsessed with friends, sharing and likes, independent restaurant owners have a huge opportunity to establish a robust social media presence, positioning their establishment as a top destination for dining on the high street. By leveraging social media, independent restaurants can become Instagram famous and cultivate a loyal following of food enthusiast who are eager to share their experience and spread the word.

The past few years, has seen a significant increase in the amount of time people spend on their phones, leading to the emergence of a new type of customer – the “foodstagrammer”,  avid mobile users who enjoy taking and sharing pictures of their food in a matter of seconds, making social media an essential component of any restaurants marketing strategy.

But how does using social media bring a welcome boost to your restaurant?

· Builds brand awareness, giving you the competitive edge, keeping your business top of mind with customers.

· Increases website traffic enabling you to consistently engage with both potential and existing customers.

· Strategic marketing with targeted promotions such as, offers, seasonal menus and products helping drive customers through your doors.

In today’s world social media has become necessary to engage with existing customers helping expand your reach to new audiences. With customers relying more on authentic recommendations from real people, its crucial to give your social channels some love and attention.

· Refresh your bio, one of the first steps you take in grabbing the attention of followers, letting them know who you are and promoting your restaurant. Keep content engaging as well as informative, tell your story, how you started your business and why you love your business, connect with your customers, they want to know about you as well as your great food.

· Location tag your restaurant, enables the “foodstagrammers” and the hungry, know exactly where to find you as sharing a location tag increases your visibility and likelihood of appearing in the feed of locals and others searching for that location. Social Insider highlights howPosts with a tagged location result in 79% higher engagement than posts without a tagged location. People who click on it can view all the other posts that have been uploaded on that location.”

More exposure means more customers and more customers leads to more profit.

· Blend photos of both food and restaurant. Given that social channels like Instagram are predominantly visual and ideal for showcasing food, its high time to refine your photography skills. Apart from capturing mouth-watering dishes, consider taking atmospheric pictures of diners relishing their meals with loved ones, or candid shots of your kitchen crew working their magic behind the scenes. You never know, your posts might just inspire the next big culinary sensation!

· Tell a story. With stories and reals taking over the dominant content on social media, videos have become a crucial tool for restaurant to creatively present their unique personalities. While producing videos may require a bit more time and effort, they provide an excellent opportunity to showcase your dish of the day or provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your kitchen operations.

· Share the likes, comments, and love. Independent businesses understand the significance of mutual support and frequently reciprocate the favour. By researching and engaging with other restaurants in your niche, liking and commenting on their posts, you can encourage them to follow your page and engage with your content, while also reaching out to their followers. This not only fosters a sense of community but also broadens your restaurants reach and visibility on social media.

Customer likes, comments and positive reviews not only increase brand awareness but can also offer cost savings, Expression offers additional discounts based on great customer reviews to independent business owners.

· Engage in small talk. Your followers are your brand advocates, spreading the word both virtually and in reality and acknowledging them brings a human touch to an otherwise virtual process, reflecting the care and attention they will experience when visiting your restaurant. Nurture these champions, take time to reply to their comments, answer questions promptly, address any concerns and thank them for their support.

· Just ask by encouraging ‘appy’ customers and followers to like and leave positive comments, a simple act with an enormous impact to your business and should be looked upon as a priority. Add a call to action to encourage activity, for example, a photo of fajitas with text “we believe every day is fajita Friday like if you agree.”  Follow up with a promotional offer inviting people to “Enjoy fajita Friday on a Tuesday! let us know why you love fajitas any day of the week and we will pick the best response for a free fajita today!.”

· Hosting social media contests generates excitement and buzz around your restaurants social media accounts, resulting in increased engagement and potential new followers.  Create contests or giveaways to boost interaction among your followers, encouraging them to participate by sharing their favourite dish or tagging a friend in their entry.

· Hashtags bring people together, reaching more followers, building a community with similar likes and interests. Join in with popular hashtags that your potential customers might be using such as, #bubblybrunch, #veganpuddings, #perfectpizza, #goodeat or create your own relating to specific marketing campaign, such as #fajitafriday, make sure you like it, comment on it, and repost it when followers use it.

· Micro-influencers, often have smaller, more engaged audiences whose authentic content can drive local advertising and brand awareness. By interacting with your audience on a more personal level, you can build genuine connections and grow your reach. Consider collaborating with local food bloggers and restaurant reviewers offering a free dining experiences in exchange for a review or inviting them to attend cooking classes or evening events to generate interesting content for your high street restaurant.

·Create a loyalty program that includes exclusive deals or discounts for your social media followers. This not only encourages them to visit your restaurant, but also helps to grow a sense of loyalty and connection with your brand leading to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth marketing, as satisfied customers share their experience with their own networks.

In summary, consistently using social media provides independent restaurant owners an advantage when reaching out to customers, promoting their business or seasonal menus. Additionally, customers can conveniently make contact with queries, including menu options, event schedules, opening hours and more.

Remember the key points to social media success are,

· Post regularly

· Be creative with your posts, stand out from your competitors.

· Interact with your audience!

Discover how Expression supports independent business owners who love their business, and their customers visit

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