Why Restaurants Need Social Media or How to Sell More Food

why restaurants need social media

If your restaurant isn’t already on social media then you are missing out in a big way. It’s gone from being something you can consider having to being something that you must have. Make no mistake about it; restaurants on social media do way better than the ones that aren’t. If you’re wondering why restaurants need social media, then keep on reading.

Why Social Media?

Don’t buy the myths about how social media is making us more inclusive. Social media is all about connecting and interacting. This is an important reason why restaurants should use social media.

Social media is the new word of mouth. It’s how people recommend goods and services to their friends, family and – thanks to the connectivity of social media – complete strangers. If you care about what people think about your restaurant and you understand the potential of people talking about it, then you need to be on social media.

Benefits of Social Media for Restaurants

There are many benefits of social media for restaurants. Here are some of the most important ones;

Why Restaurants Need Social Media: It Enhances the Customer Experience

A good restaurant is about more than just good food. It’s about selling an experience. Many customers see being able to use social media as part of their overall dining out experience. It makes things more fun for them because it gives them the chance to share things with their friends and followers online. Encourage your customers to share messages and images about their meal and improve the overall customer experience.

Social media can also help to keep your restaurant accountable for the consistency and quality of food. When you encourage customers to share their experience with their followers, every dish counts. People scrutinize your restaurant more. That means that you are more incentivized to prepare great meals and understand how food preparation can impact how good – or bad – guests perceive your food to be. Make sure your food tastes as good as it looks.

Customers can Leave Reviews, Share Photos, and More

One of the biggest benefits is that having a social media presence makes it easier for people to talk about your business. People are turning to social media for the hottest tips on where they should eat. Make sure that your business shows up when they get hungry and need a good meal.

All of this social sharing is also fantastic free advertising. You don’t need to work so hard to showcase your delicious looking food or immaculately clean restaurant when you’ve got your customers doing it for you.

Lots of Options

There are so many social media services out there that you’ll have a lot of choice. It’s important to not stretch yourself too thin though. Find a few services that work for you and focus on them. Between all the social media platforms for restaurants it’s impossible to deny the importance of social media for restaurants. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google My Business, and more.

Post pictures of the best dishes, promote your event and catering services (if you have them) and advertise your latest and greatest deals. Or just post small, simple, and effective things like how customers can contact you and where they can find your restaurant.

The Impact of Online Reviews for Restaurants

If you want to know how does social media help restaurants you only have to consider social media reviews. It really is true that social media is the new word of mouth. Research shows that almost three-quarters of customers (72%) have used Facebook to make retail and restaurant decisions based on the comments and images shared by other users.

One reason people avoid using social media is that they are afraid of negative reviews. Don’t worry so much about that though. While many people will choose a restaurant based on positive Instagram restaurant reviews, not many avoid a restaurant based on a negative review. Only a quarter (26%) of customers avoid brands because of negative online reviews.

Social Media Engagement Builds Brand Loyalty and Trust

In a similar vein to encouraging reviews, social media can help to build brand loyalty. Customers like to reward the brands that post a good selection of user-generated content, even if you have to post negative reviews. Remember that those negative reviews don’t automatically dissuade people from trying out your restaurant. You can further limit the damage of a negative review by highlighting it. Respond to the review and address the concerns of the diner. In fact, negative reviews can even be more helpful than positive ones. They show you where you can make positive changes and improve the customer experience.

By encouraging guests to post their own images and comments about their experience with your restaurant, you build trust in your brand and show transparency. You show that you aren’t going to hide away from negative criticism. Instead, you’ll address it and turn negatives into positives.

By acting on the negative trends uncovered by these reviews, you show your customers that you are listening and responding to them. They will recognize that and see it for the positive that it is.

Social Media Engagement Drives Brand Advocacy

Any customer that would be willing to take photos of their meal and share it on their personal social media is a potential brand advocate for you. It’s up to you to empower any brand advocate you can get and come up with creative ways for them to amplify their message and reach a wider audience.

Having customer surveys and garnering social engagement are a great way to discover positive customer messages and find brand advocates you can recruit. To fully maximize brand advocacy though, you should consider establishing a solution that embeds a real-time social media feed on to your home page.

Instagram for restaurants and dealing with hashtags and other trends can be intimidating for some. They force you to give up some of the control you have over messaging and what people are saying about you. As long as you take care of the customer experience and embrace social media engagement though, you’ll see a huge uptick in positive social media buzz about your establishment.

Related: Restaurant social media statistics

Social Media Tips for Restaurants

Now you know more about why restaurants need social media, you’re likely wondering how food industry social media marketing works. It’s not as complicated as you might think. Here are some of the best social media tips for restaurants to show you how restaurants should use social media.

1. Engage your audience in different ways

Social media is all about interaction. It’s about building a rapport and establishing a back and forth. It’s not enough for your customers to interact with you, make sure that you respond to them. You can post:

  • customer reviews,
  • photos of your food with captions,
  • jokes,
  • facts about the food you serve,
  • and the story behind your restaurant.

Share videos and stories of what happens behind the scenes and give your staff their chance in the spotlight. What matters is having a nice conversation with your customers using social media.

2. Encourage your customers to take pictures & use your branded hashtag

Put up a sign encouraging visitors to take pictures of their plates and include the name of your business – and a branded hashtag – in their online post. Search for the hashtag and see all of the free images people have been posting for your restaurant.

3. Post at the right times

One of the most important tips for restaurant Facebook pages is to understand the best times to post on social media for restaurants. A general rule of thumb for posting is to post when people aren’t working. You should post early in the day, at lunchtime, and early evening.

As a restaurant, you should consider meal times to be the most important time to post. If you’ve got a great lunch special then you should post about it leading up to lunch, around 11:30AM. If you’ve got a killer happy hour deal on, then post about it at 5:00PM. Think about the times that would get you the most customers and focus your efforts on them.

4. Take advantage of the best social media trends for restaurants

While knowing when to post is important, you also need to consider the hashtags and social trends. The right hashtag could get your posts in front of the right people. Some of these hashtags are essentially evergreen. If you have a particularly delicious looking meal or some kind of epic meal, then be sure to post about it with the hashtag #FoodPorn (which has over 155 million posts). Just make sure that the photos you post under that hashtag look as good, juicy, and delicious as possible.

Also keep up with the latest social media trends for restaurants. The industry is constantly changing and there are many conversations you can get involved with. Look at chains like Wendy’s, who regularly engage their customers on the latest trending topics. Not everyone can get that kind of success, but if you don’t try you’ll never get any kind of success at all.

Related: Facebook ordering for restaurants made easy

5. Use the targeted following feature to grow your customer base

Targeted following is about following the right kinds of customers. Who you follow can be as important as who follows you on social media. There are several ways to go about targeted following, but the most common one is to follow hashtags that are relevant to the industry.

For example, you might want to search for hashtags like #Hamburgers, #BestBurgers, #hamburgersalad, and the like.

A waffle place could benefit from searching the following: #waffles, #wafflehouse, #wafflesandwich, etc.

If you have a pizza shop, then you might find useful the following hashtags: #pizza, #pizzatime🍕, #pizzamania, #pizzaitaliana, #pizzanyc, pizaany, etc.

This is one area where Instagram for restaurants is especially useful. Instagram has a handy feature in their search bar that displays hashtags related to the ones you are searching.

why restaurants need social media - you can take advantage of the targeted following feature to grow your customer base

The highest performing posts (the ones with the most likes, shares, etc.) show up first. Load up the best posts, check out who liked it, and follow them. It’s as simple as that. This is a great way to grow your client base and another good reason why restaurants need social media.

6. Post the right content

Every good social media strategy revolves around posting the right restaurant social media content. You need to encourage people to follow you and give them a reason for doing so. Make sure that the content you post is worth seeing. Use high quality photos and post a variety of different things.

Also, avoid overdoing it on the promotion. Being too self-promotional is a bad look for the social media and restaurant industry. No one likes it when people over-promote, whether it’s an individual user or a brand. Do yourself a favor and let the content speak for itself. Of course you should promote specials and the like, but try to stick to an 80/20 rule. Only 20% of the content you post should be promotional.

Make sure that you also publish the links to your social accounts on your website, so that your customers can follow your social media activity. Now that you understand why restaurants need social media, the only thing left to do is to make it happen for your business.

Andreea Dobrila

Andreea Dobrila is a proven SaaS Copywriter & Conversion Optimizer. She has been featured in articles published on BigCommerce, G2 Crowd, Wikipedia, Orders2me, and many others. She's on a mission to provide restaurant owners with all the marketing tools & resources they need to skyrocket their sales.

Start by downloading her Ultimate Guide on Food Descriptions That Make You Hungry: Hypnotic Menu Writing Tips & Secrets.

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