It’s no longer a question of whether or not to have a website, a social media presence, and a digital marketing strategy – not even for the local pub or restaurant down the street. The question on most busy small business owners’ minds is how to squeeze this essential marketing into the day and make sure it’s effective and positively represents the brand. Doing all this while keeping a restaurant or a chain of restaurants running can feel like a daunting task.
On Following the Recipe: Be a Baker, Not a Cook
Instead of throwing in a dash of this, a pinch of that, and improvising with your digital marketing, it’s time to follow the recipe. (I know, I know). While the chasms between a cook and a baker in the kitchen can be hard to gap, think of the importance of this philosophy on the prep line.
Just like you want control over the end product you put on your customers’ plates, you need the same control of your online marketing strategy. Here is the formula that we believe works for small to medium size restaurants with one to ten locations, and maybe even some growth aspirations. I’m going to continue with the food analogies because I’m all in at this point.
The Recipe for Local SEO & Social Media: Baking a Delicious Cake
- The foundation of any cake is the dry ingredients. This is the Local SEO. It isn’t sexy, but it is crucial to getting Google to rank your business when nearby customers are hungry and looking for a place to eat. Local SEO includes properly claiming and optimizing your business listings, applying technical and content best practices to your website and location pages, and ensuring that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) information is consistent across the Internet.
- You have to bind your batter together to make a great cake. The wet ingredients for your batter in this analogy come in the form of analytics, strategy, and planning. Especially important for multi-unit restaurants, making a plan that enhances and markets each location is a major component to successful online restaurant marketing.
- Frosting and decorations: at last, the fun part. This is where the social media strategy comes into play. You don’t want to throw everything at the cake and make it a hot mess – which is easy to do in social media. Forming a structured plan, a posting schedule, and ensuring all messaging and images are on-brand and professional while keeping the voice of the restaurant authentic are the… icing on the cake. (Had to do it).
Mistakes to Avoid
For most restaurants, the social media keys are handed over to shift managers and employees to photograph and share special menu items, drinks, and perhaps some of the employee and customer culture. While this can be a decent strategy to start, it also has it’s drawbacks.
Here are just a few of the things we have seen happen using this well-intentioned approach to posting by employees and managers and treating digital marketing as an afterthought:
1. Over-Filtering Your Food Images
Trying to be artistic and applying all the Instagram filters can really distort and make otherwise delicious special menu items look less than appealing. No. Thank. You.
Not every image of your food has to be shot by a professional food photographer, but all of the filters, borders and design options available to today’s smartphone users don’t always do your food the same justice they do your selfies. When the power to post and share the brand to social media is passed off to someone who isn’t trained to do so (and, quite honestly, has other priorities of running the shop), mistakes can be made.
2. Posting Haphazardly, Without Rules and Guidelines
Unprofessional misspellings, hashtags, and unapproved postings can cast the brand in a negative light. Again, employees have lots of responsibilities and aren’t necessarily social media marketing experts. In a rush, small mistakes can reflect badly on the brand for a long time beyond the 30 seconds it took to post it.
3. Making Digital Marketing an Afterthought
This is the reality for busy restaurant owners and managers. Without a schedule, pre-planned posts and promotions, and a targeted strategy built for your customers, your online marketing is bound to stay flat. Studying analytics, building customer personas, and mapping out a marketing strategy are the elements that can truly move the needle.
4. Putting All of the Emphasis on Social Media and Ignoring Your Website
We get it. We all have Facebook and maybe even Twitter and Instagram accounts. We know how to use them. But not everyone knows the intricate (and nerdy) ins and outs of Local SEO. Leaving these key elements out of your digital marketing strategy is a huge mistake that many restaurant owners don’t even know they’re making.
The goal of this post is to provide the recipe for success that we’ve seen work for our local restaurant and small restaurant chain clients, as well as shed some light on the mistakes we have seen. Organic, inbound traffic is a great way to sustain a fabulous local business. We would love to help your restaurant shine online. Please feel free to contact Volume Nine if you have any questions about how a blend of Local SEO and Social Media can help your restaurant business grow.