January 18, 2012
January 20, 2012

Social media is here to stay.  Everyone needs to accept this fact and figure out how they want to incorporate social media into their marketing and advertising efforts.

Almost every restauranteur is somehow involved in one form of online advertising or another, has a website, does some form of print marketing (Newspaper ads, magazine ads, etc.), and perhaps some TV spots.

Nine out of ten restaurants have little or no social media marketing plans at all.  To be more specific, they know what social media is, they have a facebook account, twitter account, or blog, but they totally misunderstand the medium and might as well not be doing anything at all, which leaves them wondering how to get more susbcribers for their channel.

Here are the five most common misconceptions and mistakes and how to avoid them:

1) I have social media sites, BUT I don’t see any return on my investment from them, so I waste as little time as possible on them
Keep in mind,  not all things are supposed to be trackable and directly lead to revenue.  For instance, take your telephone.  Certainly, you aren’t going to cancel your restaurant’s phone service because you can’t directly draw a line from it, to revenue. The phone is a tool that you use in your business.

Social media sites are exactly the same thing.  These also give you access to people that hours of television spots and thousands of dollars of newspaper ads can’t do.  Social media is the perfect platform to demonstrate your restaurant’s  uniquness, your cuisine and atmosphere a diner can expect, when coming to dine at your establishment.

2) I know newer restaurants are utilizing social media but I just don’t get it, we’ve been around too long and we’re going to “pass on this one”.
Replace “social media” with “online ordering”,  and “websites” and you have an objection that was around 10 years ago and even 10 years before that.  Remember the craze when the web was at it’s peak and people didn’t understand the web, didn’t see how they would get any return on their investment on a website and frankly were in the business too long and didn’t need one. Guess what? Unless they got out of the business all together, every one of those restaurants has a website.

The same holds true with online ordering and online reservations.  Anyone that scoffed and tried to avoid it is using it.  It became the standard.

Social media is not going anywhere and therefore is going to be the exact same thing.  The best part about it though is that it’s not difficult to learn.  Take some time to get familiar and comfortable with it.  Devote some time in each day to work on it.  Take it one step at a time.  Pick one thing, build on it and then learn something new. And remember, you can always hire a company to help you.  A quick google search will show you hundreds of companies that do this.

3) Social Media doesn’t apply to Restaurants
Almost every person will agree that dining is a social experience. People go to restaurants to enjoy themselves and interact with friends and family.  They also interact with the people working the front of the house, the servers and sometimes even the chef.

How could anyone find a better engine to give people an idea of what your restaurant is like and what they can expect when dining there,  than with social media?

4) I don’t ever log into my social media sites.  I have automated feeds that take care of everything for me
People are very smart.  After a couple of posts, they are going to realize you are feeding your blog, fan page or twitter account with automated stuff. This is going to turn them off and they will stop visiting your sites and stop paying attention to you and never dine at your restaurant.

You need to be social with people and you need to interact with people.  When interacting with your fans or followers, you’ll get to know more about them and that will enable  you to share information that is pertinent and specific to the exact things they are interested in and needs that they have. There is no automated feed that can accomplish this for you.

5) I don’t do social media anymore because I spent all my time making the perfect blog posting and then nobody commented on it, shared it or tweeted it out to anyone else.
This is an understandable objection. After all, if you spend hours making the “perfect blog posting” and nobody shares it or comments on it, what person wouldn’t be upset?  The thing is that it’s the agent’s fault this happened.

Always keep this very easy formula in mind, to turn this right around:
Anyone that works on social media should spend 20% of their time creating content, and 80% of their time promoting it.
That’s all it takes.  Once you create a blog post, video, or other piece of content in your social media marketing campaign, SHARE IT.  Share you content with other bloggers that have similar interest.  Offer your content to trade organizations and ask them to share or comment on it.  Find people on twitter that have similar interests to what you have produced and share it with them.  If someone else has a similar interest, they are very likely to comment on it, or share it with their followers.

No matter what, always remember your views are out there on social media.

Social media is a journey, not a race.  You don’t have to have everything built and tons of followers all at once.  Just like your traditional marketing efforts, one of the keys to success is relentless consistency.  Start out with one thing, do it very consistently, and then build from there.

Source:  fohboh, the restaurant network, 1/11/12

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