More often than not, when I get into a conversation about social media marketing for restaurants, there are numerous pushbacks. “Social doesn’t drive sales and traffic” and “what good is engagement if sales don’t increase” are usually top responses in a mix of many other perceptions that devalue social media’s role in the restaurant marketing mix. However, viewing social media as strictly a sales and traffic driving media is detrimentally myopic.
There are other, important benefits to social media marketing that go beyond the sales and traffic focus. These benefits shouldn’t be discounted, because they are the beginning points of driving those core metrics. People don’t jump from awareness to purchase. The Patron’s journey is much longer than that.
It’s important to buy-in to the other benefits and the role they play in that Patron’s journey. Here are three of the top benefits to strong social media strategies and content for restaurant brands:
1. Builds reasons to believe brand claims
Brands make a lot of claims to the world. Restaurant brands are no different. “We have the best _______”, “Our quality is unrivaled”, and many other hollow proclamations are spouted into the world. People’s gut reaction to these claims is either skepticism, disbelieve, or somewhere in between.
Social media is the only type of platform that empowers brands to prove those claims in an ongoing, ever-building story. The many tools and opportunities found on Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms give brands the ability to show the quality of the ingredients, cooking/preparation, and outputs in real-time. With video, slideshows, imagery, and multiple types of delivery, social media is the place to give Patrons reasons to believe your claims.
2. Attracts higher quality talent
This has been a hot button issue for the restaurant industry in the past, and it’s exacerbated due to the Pandemic’s effects. People on the team need to feel like the restaurant — be it one unit or many, independently owned or franchised — and management has their health, safety, and career as their top priority. And, unfortunately, for many restaurant brands, their teams aren’t feeling that at all.
Social media can change those perceptions in conjunction with operational shifts that genuinely put the team’s safety first. Through effective messaging and visual storytelling, restaurants can show safety procedures in place and represent their dedication to the team.
In addition to the safety cues, people want to work for the places they love. There is no stronger platform for building that love than social media. A strong, creative approach to social media can guide the Patron’s perceptions of the brand from dull, boring, and “fast food” to upbeat, modern, and fun. In doing so that brand has a better opportunity to be considered by talent now and in the future.
3. Fosters brand adoration and advocacy
Just as create social media can attract talent, it also builds adoration for the restaurant brand which translates into loyalty and advocacy. In short, a strong social story can get them to fall in love with you.
But it takes more than snapping pictures of the food. Even when that food looks so dang delicious, people are looking for much more than that. Gone are the days where food porn gets all the views. Now, people want to see a human element. They want to be taken behind the curtain into deeper content than they could find otherwise.
Develop ways to connect your followers with the purest heart of your brand using more than still images. Dive into video, motion, and slideshows. Show your people and personality in action. Watch as engagement and followship rises.
Social media for restaurants is meant for so much more than driving sales and traffic. The more immediate benefits are in building the brand’s perceptions, awareness, and advocacy from Patrons and potential talent. Longer down the line, sales and traffic do happen.
Just as with any marketing endeavor, that direct line from tactic to result is a dangerous metric to evaluate. Looking for linear paths in marketing is myopic and ignores the cumulative power and momentum that an omnichannel approach inevitably creates.