Do you have a social media strategy for restaurants to grow your followers and turn them into customers? Or do you just post “random” photos every day without a plan?

You know the saying: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Having a plan or a strategy is crucial in every aspect of your business. From growth, to marketing, to management.

That doesn’t mean that plans don’t change. A plan is simply a roadmap for you to know whether you’re on the right track.

But just like real maps, sometimes real life has detours and blockades as well. Does that mean you stubborn stick to the plan?

No! You go around it.

Similarly, that’s how your social media strategy or marketing plan works.

You need to follow the map and regularly check your GPS to make sure you’re going in the right direction and not too far off tangent.

With that said, today I want to share a social media strategy for restaurants and cafes that you can implement to:

  • Grow your followers
  • Turn followers into customers
  • And turn customers into repeat customers

Identify Your Target Market

First things first, no matter what you do, you need to know who your audience is.

If you already have an ideal customer profile, then just refer to it. If not, it’s time to create one.

This document will be the most important thing in your business. Reason being is, no business is in the market for everyone.

Not even Coke or McDonalds.

Not even Facebook.

When you try to target everyone, you target no one.

The smart thing for any business to do is to niche down, especially in an increasing competitive marketplace.

In the past, brands could get away with generic messaging. But today, if you are a generic brand, you’re going to be pushed out the market by specialists. Period.

So you have to identify your target market, down to their daily routines, their habits, their fears and desires. This will help you craft a very specific and target message for your brand.

Collect Brand Assets

Next, you have to compile all the brand assets you have. That includes, photos, videos, media features, stories, testimonials, screenshots…

Anything that can help with your marketing.

In this article I am going to focus on using Instagram to market your restaurant business. So, photos and videos are a MUST.

They don’t have to be super professional, but it has to be good enough or aesthetically congruent enough for brand consistency.

That means your social media profile should have a certain look that is unique and identifiable.

That means standardized fonts and color palettes. If you don’t know how to do this, hire a graphic designer to create a style guide.

This is very crucial because you want to imprint a certain look in the customer’s minds so they know it’s you by just a glance.

Have An Objective

This is important because if you don’t know where you’re going, then basically the entire plan is useless.

In this case, the objective as stated above:

  • Grow number of followers (by how much by when)
  • Turn followers into customers (by how much – conversion rate)
  • Turn customers into repeat customers (by how much – return rate)

Knowing your numbers and targets is key in any plan. If you don’t have this, you’ll just be shooting in the dark.

List Down Your Social Media Strategy

Next you have to flesh out your social media strategy. This one doesn’t have to be in specifics. But it has to be research based.

How often do you want to post? What time of the day do you want to post?

What content do you want to post?

What are the stories you can tell? For example, you can tell stories of your customers, menu items, ingredients, the team, your brand.

Stories sell. Stories are what is going to captivate your audience. So list down all the stories you can tell. Couple them with appropriate images.

You need to figure out what’s your brand voice. It has to be relatable with your target audience.

For example, Wendy’s has a snarky and sarcastic tone to their social media. But that may not work with all your brands.

You also need to know what tools you’re going to need to execute your strategy.

Automation tools like later.com. Content creation tools like Photoshop. Hashtag research tools. Landing page tools to collect customer details.

Your social media isn’t the end of the customer journey. It’s just the beginning. So it’s important to know how it all ties to the next step in the journey.

A good strategy also has themes. You can have “Customer Story Tuesdays” and “Surprise Menu January”. That sort of thing will keep your content interesting.

Don’t just post pictures of your food and expect people to engage. It has to be fascinating, interesting, and different.

There is a saying, “Don’t think about brand personality. Make your personality your brand.”

Have a human touch to your social media account. That’s the most important thing for social media.

Create a Roadmap—Content Calendar, Roles, and Timeline

Lastly, create a specific social media roadmap so that everyone is on board with what is going to happen.

The roadmap includes the content calendar, the content itself placed in the content calendar…

The roles of the various people creating and uploading the content…

And the timeline or milestones for what you want to accomplish by when.

For example, January is going to be telling stories about where you source your ingredients.

So if you post 3 times a day, who is in charge of creating the content and automating the content.

Who is in charge of approving the content.

What is the target engagement rates and click throughs?

All these are important to make sure that the whole team is on track. Or if you’re doing it alone, to make sure that you don’t miss anything out.

Once the roadmap and strategy is out, all that’s left is to execute.

Final Thoughts

Creating a social media strategy for restaurants and cafes is very crucial in running your business.

Too many business owners just set up shop and post haphazardly on social media, expecting crowds to come just because.

They believe that “when you build it, they will come”. But the reality is, no one cares about your business until you give them a reason to care.

Another mistake is that restaurants use short term tactics like coupons or promotions to attract customers, but when the hype dies down…

They go back to struggling to upkeep rental and staff. Leading to them closing down.

Even big chains face this problem. In Singapore, a huge international F&B franchise recently just closed it’s doors because it couldn’t attract enough customers.

That’s the problem when you don’t have good marketing know-how and just think that location or giant sign boards will attract people.

Don’t make the same mistakes others do. With a good social media strategy, your business can thrive even if it’s in a remote location that is inaccessible.