A successful, local restaurant can make a newcomer feel rather small. The secret is that every successful, local restaurant was once a small newcomer.
As a kid growing up in Houston, I can’t remember a family night out spent at anything other than a chain restaurant. As an adult in New York City, one-off ventures are down every avenue and dark alley. Times have changed, and the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.
When you’re struggling to find a person to wash dishes, it can be hard to justify prioritizing a Facebook strategy or campaign, but nothing could be more important.
Customers want to relate to the ‘why’ of your business. Why do you exist? Merely having good food, quality service and great ambiance may not be enough to sustain your business any longer.
A few simple tips to follow:
–Post things that you find interesting. Don’t try to predict what your audience will find interesting. By posting things that you enjoy, your content stays honest, you’ll post more often, and your audience stays attentive. Sure, you may not get everyone to engage with you on Facebook, but that’s not the point. Worthwhile engagement is about more than raw numbers. It’s about reaching the right people. 100 super fans will spread the good news faster than 1000 tepid endorsements.
–Sharing is caring, and occasionally reciprocated. Generously share the content of relevant brands you enjoy. Maybe they have a sizable audience. Maybe they’ll share your content as well. Sometimes you just don’t have anything to add to a conversation, because someone said it better already.
–Post exclusive content. Do you have a Thursday night happy hour? What are your nightly specials? Maybe a potential customer is browsing Facebook just before they get off of work looking for a place to go for dinner. If you only put these deals on Facebook, your customers will learn to check it out regularly. Getting them to think about you on a regular basis means that you’re doing something right.
-Post when the time is appropriate (when applicable). Either keep a schedule for posts, or post dinner specials just before you anticipate your customers are most likely to be looking for them. Teach your customers when to seek out your content.
–Start offline. Remember that followings aren’t (often) built in a day. Offer your customers something for liking your page. A free drink, app or dessert for a Facebook like goes a long way toward a spirit of customer appreciation and generosity without crippling your bottom line. From a marketing perspective, you are spending money up front (in the free food/beverage) to initiate a relationship that gives you an opportunity to “remarket” to them over time.
– Embrace social influencers. Have local journalists/writers/foodies/bloggers reached out to preview your restaurant? If so, do a little due diligence. If they are on the map, give them a chance. They may just help you build the buzz to have a Facebook audience ready to visit your restaurant when you officially open.
-Keep posting. A stagnant Facebook account can make your business look closed. Do your best to keep posting, or delegate the job to someone on your staff. As much time as we all spend on social media these days, someone on your staff is going to be really good at it.
Know that there is no wrong answer (within reasonable limits) to what you should be posting or sharing. Find your voice and embrace it. As far as the “if you build it, they will come” mentality, know that a Facebook page is never built to completion. Much like your business, it is a living, breathing thing.