How are successful restaurants and bars working with social media to engage with customers and drive sales?

Despite the meteoric rise of social media and its growing influence on customer decision making, it’s recently been reported in a Barclays report on Social Media and the Hospitality Industry that 60% of UK restaurant and bar businesses see only ‘some’ or ‘limited’ benefit from using Social Media to engage with would-be customers. This is at a time when smarter businesses in the sector are attributing up to 50% of new sales from social channels such as Twitter and Facebook.  From my experience working with clients, the businesses that get results from social media make sure to do the following.

Get Informed

The smartest businesses will do their homework and check out how their best competitors are using Facebook, Twitter and the rest.  Switched on owners & managers will also seek out advice from expert advisors on strategies and tactics that help build brand engagement and drive sales.

Plan & Measure

The time for casual experimentation has long gone.  For faster results, clued-up owners and managers make sure to create a customised strategic plan that focuses the business on particular activities and targets.  Also, on a monthly basis the plan is tweaked according to the measured results.

Skill Up

Mediocre social media can become brilliantly effective social media when it is managed by people who have the right skills, tools and processes.  Smart businesses invest in training so social media becomes a business basic across the board.

Be Consistent

I’ve discovered that the most successful businesses tweet about 7 times a day and post on Facebook four or five times a week.  That requires an investment in time and resources and a commitment to being consistent, week in and week out.

Social First

Successful businesses on social media make sure to keep the content social rather than sales focused at least 80% of the time.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Social savvy businesses also make a point to post content that stands out from the crowd. Great content is usually funny, useful, personally relevant or deeply heart-warming and positive.

Customer Service

Twitter is not just for marketing.  These days customers are booking tables, asking for links to menus and specials, complaining and praising.  Smart businesses prepare for and welcome this engagement and in return can generate fantastic customer connections.

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Have you got any examples of restaurants and bars using social media to fantastic effect?  If you do, I'd love to if you could add your stories to the comments box below.

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