I often see people raving on Instagram or Twitter about how amazing their meal was at this restaurant or that. It's honestly one of the best ways to find places to eat, especially in Cape Town. There's certainly no shortage of restaurants to choose from in this town, but honest reviews from real people on social media are what usually makes me give a place a try. In this light, I'd like to offer some advice to restaurants with regards to social media.
BE on social media
Most restaurants/cafés/bars are on social media. Those that aren't, need to get on it. Honestly people, it's 2016. You're allowed to be disdainful towards social media. You're allowed to shake your fist at those darn kids glued to their phones. You're even allowed to have a sign that makes fun of hipsters photographing their food (YAWN). But for your own good, find your most intelligent waitron, buy them a gig of data and tell them to set up your social media profiles.
Get the basics right
No one will blame you for not posting 10 times a day, but I will blame you if your social media isn't offering me anything. It's really simple. Make sure your restaurant's name is spelled out in full on your profiles so you're easily identifiable. Use a hi-res image of your logo as your avatar. In your bio, you need to sum your restaurant up as succinctly as possible - if you can't do this, you have bigger problems. You should also include your street address and phone number in your bio. This prevents people from having to click through to your website to find out how to contact you. On that note, have a website and link to it. El Burro is a good example of all of the above.
Post the good stuff
Someone write a nice review about your restaurant? Share it. Thank the reviewer publicly for coming. Got a special on? Post about it! Get people to like your page or follow you in return for a free beer or something. The bigger your social following, the more likely people are going to be exposed to the rad food and drinks you serve and therefore more likely to come spend money at your establishment.
Respond to the bad stuff
Always publicly acknowledge and respond to complaints on social media. That doesn't mean that you should bend over backwards and dish out free meals to everyone who sends a snippy tweet. It just means that you shouldn't ignore people on social media. If someone says your service was shitty, don't get defensive, apologise and ask what you could have done better. If someone is being slanderous, feel free to call them out. With all that said, think hard about when to speak out.
Have a hashtag
Something unique. Something own-able. User generated content is a wonderful thing. You have to wade through a swamp of super-kak photos with shitty filters and borders, but every now and again you'll find a beautiful photo of your signature dish.
Use good images
Only use high-quality photos on social. I know sometimes the margins of running a restaurant are tight, but it's worth hiring a pro photographer for a couple of hours to photograph your space, your staff and your food and provide you with a massive content pool to post from.
At some point, if you really want your social media to work for you, you're going to have to pay for it. Facebook is now a paid platform, Twitter is a lot of work to monitor full-time and Instagram is not for amateurs. You either need to add social media to someone's job-description and pay them extra for it, or pay a freelancer to run your social for you.
If you want or need further guidance or would like someone to develop a social media strategy, get in touch with me here.
Cape Town based creative and strategist in the advertising industry. I love food, cycling, running, adventure, and my family. Things I write about: food, travel, technology and some personal stuff.