10 Ways Restaurants can use Social Media to become a “Hometown Hero”

Did you ever notice that the best local restaurants are the ones you never see advertised?  That’s because successful local restaurants wouldn’t see a high ROI on print advertisements.  They see a much higher ROI by focusing on their values.

Hometown Heroes have 3 things in common

  1. They know their customers.
  2. They care about their customers.
  3. They evolve with their customers.

Here are 10 ways you can know your customers, show you care about your customers and evolve with your customers by using social media.

  1. Listen, listen, listen!  Smart social media marketers make friends way before they earn customers.  If you don’t feel like you have time to listen, hire someone to do it!  It’s one of the most important parts of seeing a return on social media marketing!
  2. Set up Google Alerts. Include alerts for your name, your restaurant’s name, your competitors, restaurant associations, restaurant trends, etc. Incorporate your findings into specials, events, adjustments and coupons.
  3. Monitor specific phrases on Twitter that potential customers might be tweeting about. Use a free tool like Tweet Deck or search.twitter.com.  Respond to these phrases.  Chat with these people online.
  4. Run a fun and interactive Facebook fan page. One way of doing this is to make your customers into local celebrities.  For example, consider featuring local high school athletes, veterans, new Moms, grandparents or college graduates depending on your target market and offerings.
  5. Offer a discount to those who show they are a fan on Facebook or check in using Four Square.
  6. Post pollson your website, blog or Facebook fan page to engage visitors and find out peoples favorite dishes.  Use the results to improve your business.
  7. Address customer service issues as they happen by monitoring online “chatter.” If someone complains about bad service or cold lasagna, apologize and offer something to them to prove you really care.  Not only have you learned a valuable tip on how to improve your business (perhaps a staff member needs to go if several people share the same complaint) you’ve left that customer feeling surprised and satisfied that you were listening and addressed their issue personally.
  8. Make sure your restaurant is on Yelp.  Monitor the comments from “yelpers,” address concerns and adjust internally as needed.  Remember, one dissatisfied customer can send one tweet, blog post or status update to thousands of people with the click of a button!
  9. Consider starting a blog.  Blogs provide fresh content which makes search engines happy. Happy search engines means more visitors to your website, which equals more customers at your restaurant. Again, if you don’t think you have time to maintain a blog, hire someone to do this to stay consistent with your posting frequency.
  10. Add interactive media to your restaurant’s web site or blog.  For example, you could use short videos to introduce the chef and staff.  If you want to get really into it, show how the food is prepped or share a simple cooking technique.  You could get really creative with interactive media! Now your customers can “try before they buy,” a winning strategy for any busines!

Bonus Tip: When writing blog posts or copy for your website, incorporate relevant keywords.  For example: the name of your restaurant, the name of your town and/or neighborhood and other phrases that people put into Google searches. Incorporate these keyword phrases into the text as much as you can (without losing readability of course!).  Over time, this strategy will make it easy for locals to find you in Google searches.

So, in review…

Keep 3 things in mind when you use social media marketing for your local restaurant or small business: Know your customers,  care about your customers and evolve with your customers.

Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.

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