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Smartphone use has become a way of life for most people. Information, news, advertising, and communication all take place using a smartphone and smartphone apps. Apps make it easy for anyone to interact with social media and their network anytime and anywhere. Mobile loyalty programs are giving users a great way to earn rewards and share on social media.

Social Media is the best way to reach large numbers of people efficiently. According to the Pew Research Center – 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites. For your business, this means that you can now reach a huge pool of potential customers with a small investment.

Before you commit to any social media platform, it’s important to know who that platform appeals to most and how your business can leverage it. The best social media sites for your business won’t be the same as the best platforms for another. The exception? Facebook. Nearly every company under the sun will benefit from a Facebook page because their user base is so broad and well-distributed. This list is broken down platform by platform because of these differences.

Strengthen Your Brand Image on Facebook

Creating a Facebook fan page for your restaurant gives you a powerful advertising tool. Facebook is the most popular social media platform and is poised to stay on top for the foreseeable future. When creating your page, be careful and deliberate regarding your brand. You need to bring a consistent voice to your design and future posts. Think of this page as a mini version of your website and remain consistent.

With a Facebook page, you can promote any content you’ve published there to the Facebook feeds of your target customers. With practice, this method has a higher-than-average ROI due to its specific targeting methods. Alternatively, you may run ads without a page that link directly to relevant content or a special offer on your website.

Learn How to Use Hashtags

A Twitter account provides you a focused and concise format to promote your restaurant.  It is the second most popular social media platform.  Short, 140-character tweets/messages can advertise daily specials, last minute menu additions, and changes.  While creating tweets, remember that this site is all about straightforward, casual communication.  Don’t forget to include a hashtag or two that’s relevant to what you’re saying. You can also pay to promote on other Twitter pages.

The power of Twitter, however, lies in more than just direct promotions. It gives you the opportunity to set up and announce contests quickly.

You may also find that once you open your Twitter line of communication, you’ll start to get some customer support messages. By resolving these in a favorable way and in the public eye, you can increase your reputation for reliable service.

Encourage Check-Ins on Foursquare

Foursquare is a social media site that allows customers to “check-in” to places on their smartphones.  Those check-ins can lead to additional drop-in customers. Further, anyone else who uses Foursquare can see where their friends and family have checked in and, if interested, ask for a recommendation. Claim your business listing on Foursquare and, along with allowing customers to remotely “check-in,” you can offer special deals, loyalty rewards, and tie into other social media sites like Yelp.

Claim Your Yelp Space

Yelp provides users with reviews and recommendations of top restaurants, hotels, tourist destinations, shops and more. If you haven’t set up a listing already, you must list your restaurant on Yelp.  This is the top go-to app for those looking to try a new restaurant, though that may change in the next few years. Claiming your business or setting up a listing shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes.

Yelp users may leave reviews, meal recommendations, and photos about your restaurant. You can also post photos as well as your menu and any other relevant details. You can also allow users to share photos and reviews right from your own restaurant app. Users can connect their Yelp and Foursquare accounts. This enables Foursquare check-ins to show up on Yelp.

Create YouTube Tutorials

Showcase a video of your restaurant on YouTube. Create a YouTube channel for your business that matches up with your brand and image. It is important that your brand is recognizable. Include something to make your videos stand out and have them edited.  YouTube is an excellent way to demonstrate recipes, interview your customers, give cooking tips and tutorials, or explain the rules for a new contest or promotion. Once you’ve posted your latest video, don’t forget to promote it on all of your other social media accounts.

Share Your Menu on Instagram

Instagram provides you with a visually-stimulating way to promote your restaurant and its creations. Instagram is perfect for menu and restaurant photos. Recommendations for the successful use of Instagram include, but are not limited to, a high-quality camera, specialized lighting, and the occasional photo-based contest to encourage customers to upload and share their own images. Use hashtags that are relevant and familiar such as #chocolateday on National Chocolate Day.

Share Recipes on Pinterest

Pinterest is the world’s largest catalog of ideas. People use Pinterest to discover and save “pins” to digital design boards called “pinboards.” These pins can take lots of forms, from recipes to renovation projects to the best kitchen equipment recommendations. Pinterest also offers a form of paid internet advertising, similar to the sponsored post or promoted content options of other platforms.

Setting up a restaurant page on Pinterest and creating boards allows your current and future customers to engage by re-pinning the things that they identify with. You could also create some brand-new, unique pins for your audience to spread. Board suggestions include recipe boards, menus, special diet roundups, ideas for certain events (this ties into catering), and even décor boards if your restaurant sports a look that can leave an impression.

Develop a Google+ Presence

Google+ is similar to Facebook but with greater relevance to the popular search engine. Claiming your Google+ page is easy and only takes a few minutes, as does creating one from scratch. Google+ also has many integrated resources including blogging templates. Similar to Yelp and Facebook, a diner can leave reviews and upload photos to Google+ easily. As with all other social media sites, your brand should be consistent and leave an impression.

Take Advantage of Google Alerts

Google Alerts allow your customers, and you, to stay current. You can set up Google Alerts for your Google + page to track mentions of your restaurant on the internet. Along with mentions of your business, Google Alerts can monitor customer reviews, both positive and negative. Responding in a timely way to reviews is an excellent way to leave a positive impression on your customers.

Create a Blog

Add a blog to your website to give it a boost and connect with your customers on an entirely new level.  Blogging provides many benefits for your business. Blogs provide content for search engines when people look for a restaurant. Unlike other forms of advertisement, you can create a niche and a personal voice via blogging. Content can be specifically written to target your audience whether it is college students, sports lovers, or hipsters. Your customers can comment on your posts, too.

Conclusion

Today, diners are looking for ways to discover their new favorite restaurant. Then they want to share what they’ve found. Many will turn to social media to fulfill both needs. Facebook is even turning to online food ordering for their users.  Understanding how to utilize social media will put you in front of these seekers and help you direct the conversation. From there you can use your social platforms to generate buzz and draw in crowds.

About The Author

Andrew Gazdecki

Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps — making mobile apps affordable and simple for small businesses. We’re a do-it-yourself iPhone, iPad, Android & HTML5 app platform that allows any small business to simultaneously create, edit, and manage mobile apps without any programming knowledge needed. Think of us as “WordPress for mobile app creation.” Many of our customers are mobile app resellers -- marketing or design agencies that use our platform to cost effectively build mobile apps for small business clients.


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