Twitter of course is a long standing social network that practically every single restaurant has had in their online marketing mix for years. It is simple something that dining consumers expect of your business. However, while you have most certainly adopted this networking channel you may not becoming anywhere near to maximizing its potential. You may have had some success with Twitter as a customer acquisition tool and are now looking to further capitalize on it, or you have had no luck with it at all, and are desperately seeking guidance on how to make it work for you in the same endeavor. No matter the motivation, following the five tips below will help you realize the potential of this often under-utilized social media icon.
5 Easy to Follow Tips for Restaurants Hoping to Bring in Customers Through Twitter
1. Monitor #Hashtags for Your Locale
You know what hashtags are, but do you know how to use them to your advantage? The issue, or misuse of hashtags, comes down to thinking that they will magically bring you followers, retweets, and favorites by simply incorporating them into your tweets. Too often marketing managers for restaurants use way too common hashtag terms to no avail. For example, for a local pizzeria, using #pizza as their primary hashtag is almost pointless. It’s like whispering in a stadium full of roaring fans and expecting the people in the upper bleachers to hear you. You will need to identify more niche terms related to your offering. A pizzeria would look for related hashtags that are popular, but not too popular, that also connect with how foodies are conversing on Twitter. The hashtag #pizzaunderground (not the Macaulay Culkin band) is more targeted, hinting that your offering (as a pizzeria) is connected to fans of this food that are “in the know”. Combine that hashtag with a localized take on #pizza, such as #pizzanyc (for a pizzeria in NY) and you’ve got a tweet that is more likely to convert a Twitter user into a paying customer.
2. Create and Optimize Your Own Branded #Hashtag
It’s never too early to start a branded hashtag. You don’t have to wait until you have developed a strong brand image. Craft a hashtag that uses your brand name, or a portion of it, to be proactive in generating word of mouth about your restaurant. Satisfied customers will be tweeting about the great experience they had at your restaurant or with your food after delivery, and thus you should provide them with ammo beyond the @profilename on your profile. Display this branded hashtag (e.g. #DukesHawaiianPizza) in your Twitter bio, on your menu and in print marketing material AND tweet using it every once and awhile. Keep relentless in this practice and eventually the branded hashtag will catch on amongst loyal followers who will then spread the word (and hashtag) when referencing your offering online (assuming of course your food is good/great).
3. Build Following of Customers, not Competitors
A really bad habit for many industries, restaurants included, is to build a reciprocal following of others in the same industry. This occurs because it is easy to build follower numbers this way. Restaurants are so concerned with reaching “x amount” of followers that they connect with others (their competitors) in the same boat. You follow them, they notice, and in following social media protocol they follow right back. You all misguidedly feel great about the whole exchange because your “followers” number has increased. The problem of course, is that these inflated numbers don’t include any potential for actual customers. Let your competition continue on in this manner and from here on in dedicate your efforts to engaging and connecting with “real people” located in your city that may actually visit your restaurant.
4. Connect with Local Foodie Influencers on Twitter
It is very important that you identify influential foodies in your area that are active on Twitter. These “influencers” are bloggers and online new resource staff writers that contribute content about notable places to eat in your locale. They have a strong Twitter following and have an online resource at their disposal (the blog/website they write for) that can end up linking to your own site. You need to get in on this action. Twitter provides you with an excellent platform to reach and connect with them. Follow their profiles, retweet their posts (ones that don’t reference direct competitors) and when the opportunity presents itself (they’ve noticed you, and possibly followed back) you can invite them to your restaurant. After that, your food and service must do the talking. Assuming they will have a satisfied experience they will take to their Twitter profile (using the branded hashtag that you have made obvious) and promote your restaurant to their loyal following.
5. Enhance Your Restaurant Tweets with Rich-Media
This most certain of best practices for restaurants in Twitter is also too often neglected. Twitter is not just about text and hashtags. You must complement your Twitter strategy with rich-media that includes original photos, graphics, and video snippets featuring your restaurant and menu offerings. Understand how to post photos on Twitter and incorporate Twitter integrated Vine videos into your a Twitter content mix. The restaurant business, with mouthwatering cuisine and attractive venues, is tailor-made for Twitter success if you use the right mix of content to promote your brand.
Stay tuned for more helpful advice for restaurants here on The SEO Chefs blog.