Facebook might not have been the first social network, but it was definitely the first of its kind. It allowed people to make connections exclusively with people that they knew in the real world – a feature which was yet to be seen in other major social networks. As such, its impact was instant and it crushed everything before it, and everything that followed, in terms of sheer popularity. (No films about Twitter’s inception yet). So, if you want to market your restaurant to your local community, Facebook should be your first stop.
Why should Facebook be so important to your digital marketing efforts? Simply put, its user-base puts its so-called competitors to shame.
Despite predictions of its dwindling popularity, Facebook is going from strength to strength. In fact, 2017 saw Facebook break the 2 billion user mark. And, if you discount highly populated areas in which Facebook is banned, like China, then around 2 out of 3 people with internet access are monthly Facebook users.
That means that a significant amount of people in your local community are on Facebook, ready to be inspired by and engage with your business’s content. But, with so much content already on Facebook, how do you go about reaching them?
Here are a few marketing tips for your restaurant that will help you use this social giant to reach out to potential customers in your local community, engage with them, and, hopefully, create customers out of them.
1. Research Your Competition
You don’t always want to follow the trends as that can mean you just blend into the background instead of standing out. That being said, you don’t always want to be radically different in case you miss out on giving your Social Media users what they want.
The best thing to do is find a perfect middle ground in which you follow the trends to a degree but march to the beat of your own drum.
But, to get this right, you need to know exactly what the trends are. To do this, take a look at what your local competitors are doing.
You can use Facebook Insights for this, but you might want to bring a little more depth to your research. If this is the case, Klear is definitely a tool you want in your belt. This allows you to input the names of your competitors and discover a lot about their campaigns.
A paid subscription will give you access to a well of information, but the free version is still pretty good in terms of data. You are able to view your competitors’ influence across multiple channels, view their engagement levels, check their true reach, view the types of posts that they sponsor, and analyse which channels play host to the majority of their audience (no surprise that Facebook wins in most cases).
Klear also allows you to view your competitors’ most well-received content. This gives you a good idea of what types of content they use for different channels, allowing you to take a few pointers on what is working well on which social network.
The above example shows, unsurprisingly, that a video has done well on Facebook, while images do well on Instagram and simple text posts perform well on Twitter.
Another great feature of this social listening tool is its ability to tell you exactly who your competitors are interacting with. This information comes in very handy when you want to get specific with your targeted marketing. You know that these users like to interact with restaurants like yours, so they’ll likely be much more open to any contact that you make with them, either directly or through targeted advertising.
Lastly, Klear gives you specific information on the topics that your competitors’ customers are most interested in when they do online research. You can use this information when it comes to creating content that you want to be relevant and interesting to the same audience.
Moreover, Klear gives you data on the websites that your target audience shares, which is really good for link building. By using these links in your content, you’ll certainly make it more interesting to your targeted audience. And, if you can get these sites to link back to your website, it’s even better.
2. Use Analytics to Know What to Post
Once you know what content works best for your competitors, you can start to plan and create your own content. But, what works well for one business might not work as well for another. After all, your restaurant is not (and shouldn’t be) a carbon copy of your competitors’ restaurants.
So, the early days of your campaign will likely involve a lot of experimentation. You might find that some content performs really well while other content gets a lukewarm reception.
Fortunately, you are able to distinguish exactly which content is performing best. You can do this from Facebook itself, using the Insights tool.
The ‘Page Views’ option in the ‘Insights’ tab on your Facebook business page will give you clear information on which days saw your page get the most views. Check the content that you posted on your best days and look for any trends. You might find that all the posts contained videos, for example, or had similar subjects.
With this information you’ll start to understand the content that your followers most enjoy seeing. You’ll then be able to start focussing on this content in your campaign, which should give you better results overall.
3. Create Your Page to Maximise Engagement
While Facebook likes to keep all its pages looking fairly uniform, it does have a bit of room for customisation. Part of this is down to great imagery and part of it is down to third-party apps.
If you want to use your Facebook page to bring local customers into your restaurant, it’s advisable to use all of these features to prompt as much engagement as possible.
Start by making your page pleasing to the eye with the best visual content that you have. As a restaurant, you might want to show off your food in your profile and banner images. Planet Hollywood, though it has an impressive collection of memorabilia, definitely places emphasis on the quality of its food on its Facebook page.
However, while food is the product of your restaurant, you may be just as proud of the atmosphere that you offer your customers. TGI Fridays in Leicester Square is similar to Planet Hollywood in that it has both impressive food and a great atmosphere, but it shows off its interior slightly more than its food on Facebook.
With eye-catching imagery you’ll hopefully capture and keep the attention of any visitors to your Facebook page. Next, you’ll want them to engage with the page. A great way to do this is by running contests.
You can do this simply enough by posting questions or content on your page and rewarding the users who respond quickly or correctly.
It is also possible to create specialised contests using Heyo. This drag and drop app allows you to easily build contests that feature built-in sharing features which help get your page out there in the local community.
You can also create a poll on your page to prompt page engagement. This will allow you to ask simple questions and have your followers respond quickly and easily. Polls might not offer prizes, but they’re great for a little bit of crowdsourcing. By asking questions about your restaurant or menu, you’ll get excellent feedback on what the public wants from your business.
In order to make a poll on your Facebook page you simply need to go to your Home page. Under the window in which you would ordinarily enter your text, you’ll see a few blocks. Underneath the blocks you’ll have a ‘See All’ option. Click this and you’ll see a block that gives you the option to create a poll. Simply click this and enter the information you want to ask your followers about.
Another interesting way to spark engagement is through the ‘Fan of the Week’ app. This encourages your fans to like your pages by awarding points to the fans who like the most posts in a week. Aside from boosting your post likes, this will also give you a useful view of the customers who are enthusiastic about your restaurant, which is handy for use in targeted marketing.
You can get third-party apps like Fan of the Week by simply typing their names into your Facebook search bar.
4. Help People Get to Know Your Business
People often have a harder time trusting things that they don’t know, so they’ll be less inclined to eat at your restaurant if they’ve never heard about it before. This is why it is important to have a strong social presence. The more people see your restaurant’s name cropping up on their social feeds, the more they’ll start to trust it.
But, merely having people recognise your restaurant’s name isn’t always enough. It helps to make a personal connection with prospective customers through your social channels. This way, they’ll start to feel connected to your restaurant and will be motivated to visit it.
TGI Fridays in Leicester Square posts a lot of content on their staff, which helps create a sense of familiarity amongst their online community. Even users that are yet to visit the restaurant will begin to feel as if they know the friendly and fun waiters and bartenders that work at this restaurant. This could be motivation enough to bring people from the local community into the restaurant, just so that they can meet the staff members in person.
5. Get Involved With Your Local Food Suppliers
Making the decision to use local food suppliers can be a hugely beneficial for your restaurant. Firstly, it offers great advantages in terms of the quality of your food, since locally-produced foods can be far fresher and healthier than imported foods. And, in a time during which people are highly concerned with the nutritional value of their foods, this is a great way to bring customers into your restaurant.
Secondly, if there is a strong sense of community in your restaurant’s neighbourhood, you’ll definitely get the nod of approval from local diners if you decide to start supporting local food suppliers.
So, if you decide to make this step and start supplying foods grown locally, you need to let the community know about it. And, with many local foodies being on Facebook (trusting the statistics), you can be sure that this social network is a great way to make your decision known.
Content-wise, the sky is the limit. There are endless possibilities in terms of videos and images that show your interaction with local suppliers and how your restaurant gives back to the community.
Riverford at the Duke of Cambridge uses a combination of content to great effect. Some posts show their efforts to harvest local produce while others show the amazing dishes made with that produce (with helpful mentions of the local farms).
6. Tell Stories about People in Your Community
A great way to reach out to people in your community is by letting them know that your restaurant is a part of the community. A great way to do this is to use your Facebook page to tell the stories of people in your area. Or, better yet, show how your restaurant is helping out the people of the area.
This is along the lines of using local produce, but it means that you don’t have to change your approach to obtaining supplies if that doesn’t work for you. You can still have the same impact (or perhaps a more substantial impact) on the community by using your Facebook page to show how your restaurant is a part of the lives of the residents in your area.
Waterhouse Restaurant does this well on their Facebook page. This is a restaurant that was set up by the Shoreditch Trust charity in 2008, and it helps disadvantaged people in the community improve their circumstances. The Facebook page certainly reflects this, showing a great deal of the good that the restaurant does for the people of Hackney.
Waterhouse uses their space for a lot of charity work. But, you don’t necessarily need to go to these lengths to have an impact on the community. You could, for example, give out basic breakfasts to the finishers of a charity run in your area, or take special meals to a local nursing home. These types of gestures make for excellent Facebook content showing community engagement.
Also, if you don’t have the time or budget to try these sorts of endeavours, you can still go a long way towards community engagement by creating posts about local diners who are regulars at your restaurant.
7. Show Your Followers What People Think of Your Business
Since so many online users visit Facebook frequently, this social platform is a great place to collect all of the content that is created about your restaurant and display it in one, easily-accessible format.
If your restaurant is featured in local magazines or blogs, for example, post those articles on your Facebook page along with any other content that shows your business in a good light.
Another way to show that your restaurant is involved in the community is to post a lot of content that has been created by local diners. This isn’t to say that you should skim their Facebook pages and post all of their content, but rather that you would do well to curate the content that is created and posted about your restaurant.
You can make this easier for yourself by allowing your customers to enter reviews right on your Facebook page. This way, you won’t have to pull it from other review sites. To do this, start at the ‘Settings’ tab of your Facebook page and click ‘Edit Page’ on the left-hand menu.
This will open the ‘Edit Page’ menu, which allows you to add tabs to your Facebook page. Scroll down to the bottom of this list and click the ‘Add a Tab’ button.
This will open a pop-up menu that offers various tabs which you can add to your Facebook page. Look for the ‘Reviews’ tab and click the ‘Add Tab’ button on the right. This will add the review tab to your page, meaning that users can enter reviews on the spot.
The great thing about having reviews directly on your Facebook page is that residents of your community might see their friends and colleagues popping up in this section. This is an excellent way to let local diners know that, firstly, your restaurant exists in their local area and, secondly, that people they know are already eating there.
8. Partner with another Local Business
We have already mentioned partnering with local food suppliers in order to establish your restaurant’s support of the local community. We also mentioned that posting content about this partnership is a great way to make it known to the diners of your area. But, it is possible to use Facebook to solidify this partnership.
One easy way to show collaboration between your restaurant and a specific supplier is to like each other’s pages. This will show up on both Facebook pages. So, your followers will see that you like your supplier’s page, and that supplier’s followers will see that they like your page.
However, if you would like to take this partnership to a more official capacity in terms of Facebook advertising, Branded Content may be a highly beneficial tool for you. This is a feature of Facebook that allows you to set up an exchange of value with another business.
When using Branded Content, your restaurant will tag your partner in posts, which will enable them to use Insights to monitor the post’s performance. Your partner can then put additional money into the post, if they desire, in order to help it perform better. Your partner can also share the post on their page for further exposure.
In order to use Branded Content, you create a post on your Home page as usual. However, before you publish the post, you click the Branded Content button.
This will give you a ‘With’ prompt, where you will enter your partner’s page name. Following this, you can hit the ‘Publish’ button. It must be noted, however, that you have to abide by proper usage conditions which require you to mention the commercial nature of your post.
This feature is intended for influencers doing a bit of affiliate marketing, but there’s nothing stopping you using this feature to help establish your business in your local community.
Facebook actually makes it pretty easy to have your business show up on the radars of the local community through its targeted advertising. When running paid ads on Facebook you are able to target diners in the local area, and get specific whilst doing it.
In addition to simply targeting users in your geographical area, you are able to target the users with specific likes and interests. This essentially allows you to pick the users who are interested in your type of food and only show the ad to them. Also, if you’re trying to bring in a precise age group, you can target that demographic specifically.
In order to run a geographically targeted ad, click on ‘Promote’ at the bottom left of your Home page.
Next, look for the ‘Promote Your Business Locally’ bar and click it.
You’ll be shown an ad creation window that will allow you to enter the specifics of your ad, starting with the location. Choose your area and define how large you would like the radius of the ad to be.
Next, enter the specifics of your target market. This will include age and gender spheres as well as their interests. You can choose to have your ad appear on Instagram as well. After you enter the ad creative, you’ll enter your payment details and decide how long you want the ad to run for. You can also choose how much you would like to spend daily.
Use Facebook to Gain Serious Local Business
On the surface, Facebook might seem like a simple social network, but it has numerous tools which you can use to get your business noticed by local customers. By taking the right route in terms of content, and by using the right promotional features, your Facebook marketing strategy can be hugely effective.
Of course, the more experience you have in this field, the better. So, if you need any help getting your strategy right from the start, be sure to contact us.