Social media can be leveraged as an on-demand, flexible and cost-effective marketing tool. Used correctly, it can produce both long and short term results for your restaurant. You have two goals – get new people to come in and try your establishment and to get your customers to return again and again. Both are required for financial stability and profitability of a food service establishment.
Here are some promotional ideas you can use right now:
- Ask customers to vote for a new menu item or cocktail. Even better, all voters can be given a discount on the winning menu item.
- Take pictures of customers celebrating special events at your establishment and post them. Ask the customer for an e-mail to send them the picture and ask them to tag it on the restaurant’s site for their friend and family to view. You get an e-mail and more visits to your site or pages. This enables you do targeted marketing in the future to potential customers who are likely to buy from you.
- Featured a local, seasonal ingredient. Ask customers for an idea or recipe to incorporate a featured ingredient into your seasonal menu. The winner can dine with the owner or chef when the new item debuts on the menu.
- Host a private event with your executive chef. The culinary professional can share some tips on how he prepares popular menu items or other culinary advice.
- Ask your best customers to be on your “advisory team.” Meet with them for ideas on how to improve your business. Host a “President’s Table” for your advisory team with samples of proposed new menu items for their opinion.
- Post pictures of your restaurant behind the scenes and in action. With the popularity of reality TV, this is sure to be a hit. Customers will feel engaged at a personal level and build trust by seeing the quality and cleanliness in areas that are traditionally off-limits to the public.
- Have customers take pictures of your food and drinks. Include the best images on your website or promotional menus. Reward your photographer with the food depicted for free.
- Take a video to post on YouTube of your bartender (mixologist) “performing” while they make a trendy new cocktail. Have a contest for the bartender with the best performance determined by customer voting.
- Video and post on YouTube a contest where all of your bartenders complete for “the perfect pour” – a perfectly measured cocktail created with the pour “count”.
- Co-promote with a local vendor-sponsor a promotion that features their food or drink product. You’ll reach their customer base and they’ll reach yours. A win-win for both businesses.
I’d love to hear other creative social media ideas to share with restaurant owners. What has produced good results for your restaurant business (or client)?