Social media use among restaurants is on the rise–according to a Hospitality Technology study, nearly 9 out of 10 restaurants used social media to drive traffic this year, which is up from 77% in 2012.Among the various social media outlets available, Facebook is the most widely used, closely followed by Twitter–94% of restaurants surveyed use Facebook, and 77% use Twitter.
All this use of social media has paid off: According to Hubspot, 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals. The point being, for the most part, is: If your restaurant isn’t on the social media bandwagon, it should be. Social media is an excellent way to connect to customers–both existing, and prospective–and will ultimately drive business and increase profits.
Still not convinced? Here are five major benefits of using social media as a tool for your restaurant:
Using Social Media to Draw Customers to Your Business
1. Build Loyalty
Use your social channels to create a presence that welcomes new faces by offering deals, and holds on to longtime members by offering rewards. Your restaurant’s use of social will simultaneously drive new traffic as well as reward existing customers.
2. Engage with your customers
One of the most important things to remember when using social media to draw business to your business is to be inviting and responsive. If you’re serving up a new special for lunch, let your customers know it’s available to them. When they comment on your photos, comment back, or acknowledge their comment by “liking” it. Your customers will love the interaction, and your business will benefit accordingly.
3. Brand Ambassadors
Building on the previous point, those fans you engage with will in turn prove to be brand ambassadors for your business. When you post engaging content to your social channels, your fans will like or share that content. When they share your content, then the friends of your customers will see this activity appear in their news feeds too, thereby becoming not only aware of your business but also of the fact that their friend is recommending (by way of a share) that business. In a Forbes study, 81% of those surveyed noted that posts from friends directly influenced their buying decisions.
4. Social Discovery
Consumers unfamiliar with a neighborhood and surrounding eating options will often turn to their mobile phones for options. Applications like Yelp and Facebook allow users to see what’s in the neighborhood, as well as reviews, hours, directions, and menu options. As a restaurant owner, make sure you’re on the radar for this potential food traffic by building out your social profiles on Yelp and Facebook, including added photos and detailed business information.
5. Food Trucks & Mobile Business
Social Media is especially useful for businesses on the go. I’m sure we all have our favorite food truck, but don’t always know if they’ll end up on the right street corner. Mobile food trucks can use social media to send out tweets and messages to let customers in the area and know their exact location and what they’re serving. And, as Richard Myrick of Mobile Cuisine told me, “Social media and food trucks go hand in hand since the majority of food truck fans are also very social media literate.”
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The above five benefits of social media are a great tool for restaurants to drive traffic, increase loyalty, and ultimately improve the bottom line. Take this use of social one step further by directly integrating your social media channels with your point of sale (POS) system. Seamlessly share updates and photos directly from the POS system, and watch your customer base–and your profits–increase. Not only will you be actively using social to draw customers to your restaurant, but you can also rest assured there won’t be any interruptions between social sharing and the point of sale.
Author Bio: Anna MacLachlan is a copywriter and content strategist for Revel Systems, the iPad point of sale solution based in San Francisco, California. A Montana native, she graduated from NYU with a Master of Arts in Humanities and Social Thought. When not writing for Revel, she enjoys learning French, riding her bike through San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and reading Raymond Chandler.