In the last decades, social media have had a huge impact on our lives and they have inevitably acquired a major role in the hospitality sector as well. This new way of communication has been used by several companies as a digital showcase to advertize their services and to reach different targets. In particular for small businesses and independent restaurants it has come as a lifeline when it comes to struggle against big brands marketing campaigns. Indeed, you don’t need a seven-figure budget to be effective on social media. “All” you need is to be clever, have a plan and carry it out in the smartest way – no, randomly posting on social media is NOT marketing!
If you are not a marketing wizard, the best thing to start with is looking at the market. Take a look at your competitors, focusing on those who are getting the best results (in terms of revenue and customer awareness), and draw inspiration from their digital campaigns (I said draw inspiration, NOT COPY).
Remember that contemporary marketing is all about triggering emotions: posting pictures about lunch or dinner offer will have no real impact on customers. You need to go beyond the primary need – hunger – and evoke emotions.
The kind of approach or tactic you are going to use is mainly determined by the type of customer you want to attract, therefore knowing your ideal clients and their habits is vital for the success of your marketing strategy.
Text: this is the oldest and most traditional tool you have to communicate on social media. However, times are changing and while words can still be powerful, they are usually perceived as boring and static and therefore looked over. If you prefer word posts to communicate with your target audience, try to keep it short and use the so called “dynamic text”, a feature introduced on Facebook which makes short texts – less than 35 characters – bigger than the normal text. PRO → You draw attention on your message.
Pictures: a picture is worth a thousand words. As said before, make sure you post pictures able to trigger emotions. Instead of sharing photos of your dishes, try to share real moments and real emotions experienced in your restaurant, for example by taking pictures of your guests having a great time! Another option is showing your followers the team during service time. PRO → You add a human touch to the business and create a bond with your customers.
GIFs: the acronym stays for “graphics interchange format file” and in other words it is a picture that moves. This is one of the latest tools introduced on social media and it works extremely well with Millennials, because it plays on nonverbal communication. PRO → It is particularly powerful and it allows to get the emotion behind the words.
Videos: videos are even more powerful than pictures and if you are creative enough to create something unique and catchy, it has a real chance to go viral, exposing your page to thousands of extra visits. The closer you can connect with your customers, the closer they will feel to your brand. PRO → If you have the winning idea, you reach extra new customers.
Lives: live stream videos have launched a new era on social media and they are considered the coolest trend at the moment. How have we survived without them until now?! If used in a smart way, they really boost views and engage the customer. They allow you to share an event or a special occasion with guests, engaging them and improving their involvement with your business. Some examples? Try to stream a cooking class or take them behind the curtain while designing a catering event. PRO → You build a direct relationship with your guests engaging them with your authenticity.
In conclusion, we also have to take into account that the way of living and perceiving social media has significantly changed over the years. We used to collect memories, posting selected pictures and moments that showed the best of everything. Nowadays however, there’s a clear tendency of sharing in the moment, bringing the social media on a more spontaneous level. Social media marketing works only when it’s authentic. We have to drop the built and studied image of our business and become natural and real.