In Part 1 of our social media guide for restaurants, we shared five creative ideas that food establishments of all kinds — from coffee shops and cafes to bars and lounges — can utilize to enhance their digital presence. These suggestions included running contests, using hashtags, working with influencers, showcasing your employees and taking high-quality photos.

Today, we complete our two-part series by sharing five more ideas that will help you amp up your restaurant’s presence on social media.

6. Take Videos for Social Media

If a photo is worth a thousand words, what do you think a video is worth? A few interesting facts:

  • According to leading digital analyst Dr. James McQuivey, a one-minute video is equivalent to 1.8 million words (Hubspot).
  • On multiple occasions, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has expressed his desire to turn Facebook into a video-first platform (Contently).

While strong photos are of primary importance for social media, it’s clear that video comes in at a very close second. The good news is that you don’t need to purchase an expensive video camera and hire a production team in order to create effective videos for your social media channels.

Instagram has a very effective “Stories” feature within the app that lets users quickly shoot video, which will disappear after 24 hours. Snapchat, a social media platform that’s extremely popular with Millennials, works in exactly the same manner.

The magic of these “short term videos” is that you don’t have to worry about making them look perfect — the video itself will disappear after just 24 hours!

A few ideas for creating interesting social media videos:

  •  Record the finishing touchManila Social Club runs pop-up doughnut experiences across the U.S. They often film eye-catching clips of their bakers dropping delicious toppings onto their doughnuts as a garnish. Milestones, a Western Canadian chain, records the final step in the creation of their beloved fish tacos: a chef squeezing lime juice onto the dish. Both of these are simple and easy-to-capture shots that are very effective when seen on video.

  • Tempt your customersCosmic Treats, a bakery in Toronto, uses video to lure and entice followers to rush in and buy the ‘last piece of cake’.

Cosmic Treats

  • Show customers what they want: Denny’s Instagram video of a hot cup of coffee would make any caffeine fiend drool. Posting a video like this in the morning when coffee drinkers are itching for their java jolt almost guarantees you a coffee rush!

7. Take Customer Service Seriously

Customers can make or break you. Consider using social media to reward loyal customers and take action with upset customers.

You should make it a habit of responding to everyone’s comments and questions posted on your restaurant’s social media channels. It may seem like a lot of work, but if a customer gave feedback in person, you would never ignore it — and we recommend the same approach to online feedback. Be empathetic, grateful and professional, just as you would in person.

If you receive a negative comment or online review, the best course of action is to acknowledge the comment and respond accordingly. You may consider thanking the customer for visiting and telling them how you plan to fix the issue, and potentially invite them for a return visit (you may even want to offer them a promotion as an incentive to come back).

Whether in person or online, your customers should be treated like gold. Here are a few examples of brands who take their customers seriously on social media:

  • Known for breathing new life into the “burgers and fries” concept, Shake Shack is praised for its quick response to customer comments and complaints on social media.
  • Salt and Straw, a Portland-based ice cream shop, also responds in a timely fashion to customer comments, even if there are no direct requests.
  • Tim Hortons recently launched a Mother’s Day contest on Twitter asking followers to tweet what they loved about their moms. Rather than simply letting the tweets roll in, Tim Hortons responded to every single tweet, surely making every follower feel special.

8. Consistency is King

It’s crucial to be consistent on social media in terms of:

  1. Branding: Are you using the same bio and logo for each social media channel? You should be!
  2. Voice: Are you posting in the same tone every day? For example, you don’t want to be switching back and forth between first person and third person in your posts.
  3. Frequency: Are you posting often enough?

We want to draw your attention to the last point regarding posting frequency, because the reality is that people consume food all day, every day. A professional sports league or event like the Olympics only needs to market leading up to and during the season or event, but when it comes to food and restaurants, there’s no reason for you to ever stop marketing since people are always eating!

We encourage you to be consistently active on social media so you stay top of mind, and recommend posting a minimum of four times per week. Ideally, a restaurant and food brand should be posting on a daily basis. In fact, most marketers recommend spending at least 30 minutes each day managing your social media accounts (Business).

We recognize you may not have the bandwidth to post on social media every day, so we’ve identified a few tools you can use to help automate this process:

  • Facebook Scheduler: Use Facebook’s scheduling tool to plan your posts in advance and schedule them all at once. It’s free and easy to use.
  • Later: Instagram doesn’t allow third-party services to publish posts, so all Instagram scheduling must be conducted through another app, such as Later. When the time comes for the app to publish a post you previously scheduled, Later sends a push notification to your phone prompting you to open Instagram so you can manually post what you had scheduled.
  • Hootsuite: This is a platform that allows you to schedule and manage posts on different social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Buffer: Buffer is similar to Hootsuite, but is also integrated with Pinterest. Buffer is best for auto-scheduling social media posts, rather than managing your channels. For a more thorough comparison of Hootsuite and Buffer, click here.

9. Ask Questions

Social media is a not a megaphone. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are two-way streets that offer an opportunity for you to engage with your patrons after they leave your premises.

Think of social media as the ultimate feedback loop. Rather than hiring an expensive auditor or waiting until your customers return to ask them for feedback, social media offers a chance to continuously engage online. Treat social media conversations like real conversations. Always reply, show gratitude, be polite and demonstrate interest in the other person.

The restaurants below employ creative and fun tactics in order to keep their customers continually engaged:

  • New York City’s Soft Swerve gives its followers a chance to be a part of the restaurant’s own decision-making process by seeking their advice when developing new ice cream flavours.

    Soft Serve
  • Steakhouse chain The Keg teases its followers by dropping hints on social media about new menu items and inviting them to guess what the dishes are.
  • A&W takes a cue from the concept of a boxing match, pitting traditional menu items against each other to rile customers up.
  • Cupcakes takes advantage of the free feedback loop that social media inherently offers, asking followers to share their in-store experiences with the company.

 10. Think Outside The Box

Although we’ve shared a number of industry examples with you in our two-part social media guide, we encourage you to put your own spin on things. Take risks and try new things! As the following restaurants demonstrate, using social media in unexpected or novel ways can help your establishment stand out from the pack:

  • Eat By Chloe is a popular U.S. vegan eatery — but you wouldn’t know it from a quick glance at their Instagram. Rather than posting regular photos of their meals and food, they’ve taken a different approach, curating an art-deco Instagram feed that seamlessly fades into different colours every week.

  • Romer’s, a burger chain in Vancouver, takes regular breaks from food photos to share information about some of the city’s most interesting cycling routes…which often lead right to one of their restaurants! Genius move.
  • Happy Bones NYC takes a walk on the minimalist side by consistently posting photos with emojis rather than text.
  • Popular South American chain Crepes and Waffles uses Instagram to display landscape style photos rather than individual posts.

  • Remember the “all-pink” restaurant in NYC we told you about last month? Pietro Nolita is not the only pink restaurant in town! PureWow just filled us in on the newest Instagrammable pink cafe in Brooklyn: Carthage Must Be Destroyed. Featuring menu items with names like “breakfast with “gwyneth” and “foxy porridge”, you can bet that customers will be rushing to post the photos they snap at this cafe on Instagram asap.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our two-part series on creative social media ideas for restaurants. Have a question, comment or idea you want to run by us about your restaurant’s social media? Contact us here for a free consultation!

Author Trish Hudson

Trish is the owner and principal at Holistic Hospitality Solutions. She aims to help assess her clients operations from top to bottom in order to gain efficiencies, save money, and increase their bottom line.

More posts by Trish Hudson