Why Your Restaurant Needs Social Media?
Social media has become a fundamental part of the restaurant industry. Whilst some restaurant owners have embraced this new found obsession, others have been somewhat reluctant. For example, in some restaurants owners have categorically asked diners not take images or share their dining experience with family and friends. The reason for this is not clear but it’s true to say that this is only evident in a handful of restaurants. Most restaurants allow you take pictures and share your dining experience with open arms because it drums up more business.
Recent statistics show that more than a quarter of customers in the UK have recommended a brand, product or service to a friend through social media. Sharing images and pictures over social media has become second nature to us so posting a picture on Facebook or Twitter of your favourite restaurant/take away or favourite dish is common practice.
Sharing your dining experience on social media is definitely on the rise and governmental research shows that nearly 3 out of 4 customers (72%) have used Facebook to make restaurant or retail decisions, based on comments and images that have been shared by other users. If that is the case, why would restaurant owners be inclined to prohibit customers from uploading images of their dining experience on various social media platforms? From a business perspective this makes no sense at all. Here’s why?
Benefits of Social Media Engagement for Restaurant Owners
Consumers have a strong desire to connect with brands and other consumers via social media. As a result, restaurant brands need to proactively engage their customers through mobile and social channels rather than making it harder for customers to distribute images and mentions to their social networks.
1. Social Media Engagement Enhances Customer Experiences
Most restaurants have a slogans’ like ‘Majestic Experience’ or Fine Dining’ which reinforces the insertion that restaurants don’t just sell food—they sell experiences. Social media is an integral part of our lives and for many people the whole experience of going to a nice restaurant is because it enables them to share their experiences with their family and friends. By encouraging customers to distribute images and messages about their meals, restaurant owners can enhance the customer experience and develop new business.
2. Social Media Engagement Improves Trust and Loyalty to your Restaurant
Customers reward restaurants that post all customer focused content online—even if it means posting negative reviews. Most restaurant owners are surprised to learn that negative reviews don’t automatically discourage customers from trying a restaurant, especially if the restaurant has a generally positive online presence. According to research, just 26 percent of costumers avoid a restaurant based on a negative online review.
When you encourage customers to post images and comments about their experiences online, you demonstrate transparency and generate trust for your restaurant. Although it’s important to control technologies that allow you to monitor and respond to negative feedback, the credibility your restaurant gains from publishing all reviews outweighs the damage caused by the occasional negative comment. Negative feedback is also good because it provides important information that can lead to changes to improve the experiences your restaurant delivers. Responding to these negative comments means that the restaurant owner is listening to its customers and values their opinions.
3. Social Media Engagement Drives Restaurant Advocacy
If a customer is willing to capture an image of their meal and distribute it to followers online, you can class them as a potential restaurant advocate. By advocate we mean someone who indirectly promotes the restaurant without any monetary gains. As a restaurant owner, it’s your job to empower restaurant advocates and develop strategies to amplify their messages.
Customer surveys and social engagement are important in identifying positive customer messages and recruiting advocates to your restaurant. But to maximize the impact of advocacy, consider implementing a solution that embeds a real-time advocacy feed on your restaurant homepage or Facebook page.
By properly managing the customer experience and embracing social media engagement, you can substantially increase the amount of positive social buzz about your restaurant and thus maximize your earning potential. If you own a restaurant but are not social media savvy, then fear not, there are plenty of companies out there who can help.