The Integration of Social Media in the Food Industry
Who doesn’t love food!? Whether its our fascination with nutrition, our love of eating out, or the emergence of the “celebrity” Chef, the food and beverage industry has been growing in popularity over the last several years. One key component to this spotlight has been the integration of social media tools used by the industry. It is now basically a requirement for bars and restaurants to invest time in their online presence.
While this goes for most customer service businesses, the hospitality industry, specifically, has flourished with its use of social media. When was the last time you went into a restaurant and didn’t notice at least one person taking pictures of their food? It’s been a long time hasn’t it? Wherever the compulsion comes from, or whenever it started, it seems that eating out and social media will now be forever entwined.
When once a night out was likely based on word of mouth recommendations, now every dining experience is prefaced with a peruse of the restaurant's website, a trip to Yelp, Twitter or Instagram--all of which is taking place before a decision of where to eat even takes place!
The options for customers to immediately share a positive or negative experience online makes it more important than ever for businesses to be able to directly reach and engage with their customers. To engage in real time allows for restaurants to control and direct the conversation and demonstrate their ability to provide outstanding customer service (hopefully).
With a small digital marketing budget, bars and restaurants can raise the awareness of their businesses quickly and in whichever way they want. Using a friendly tone on social media platforms creates an approachable impression amongst followers. It allows people to not only share their experiences online, but to follow along with promotions, specials, deals and events. This in turns builds a sense of being ‘in the know’ with the restaurants followers.
Some Tips for Killin’ It On Social Media In The Food Industry:
Hashtag, Hashtag, Hashtag.
Get your food out there! Tagging your posts with popular hashtags allows your pictures to be found by users outside of those that already follow you. On Instagram: begin to type in your hashtag and watch to see how many times this hashtag (or similar hashtags) have been used, so you know what people are tagging and searching. This will help get those beautiful plated dishes out there for the world to see.
Engage with people on Twitter.
Twitter is the perfect place to respond to both the positive AND the negative reactions to your business. A quick response time lets people know that you are paying attention to the experience your customers are having and that you care about what is being said.
Make sure you have a slick website.
The first stop from social media that people will make will be to your website, so make sure that you have an intuitively laid out website that showcases that scrumptious menu! A great idea to keep content fresh: integrate your social feeds so they show up directly on your site whenever you update. This saves you time from having to update in two places, and also encourages web traffic to connect with you on social media.
Eye-catching and aligned branding.
Long gone are the days of generic restaurants. Now it’s essential that your business stands out and has a developed sense of self and branding. Make sure you spend some well-deserved time on this portion of your business. We recommend getting some help with these elements--two brains are always better than one! (There could be people in your social circle that are willing to help, or of course there are agencies out there that can assist.) Branding matters! Be sure your name, tone, logos, decor and staff all align.
Whether you're new to the restaurant industry, or ready to step up your game, these tips will help you ensure you're super successful with your social media efforts!