Social Media for Restaurants & Small Businesses-Essential in 2017

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement

Posted: 07/5/2017

At a luncheon meeting with a chef/owner of a Boston area restaurant, the chef and client of my consulting business told me that he chose the restaurant based on the recommendation of Marc Hurwitz, founder of Hidden Boston, an online restaurant guide covering Boston and New England. The Hidden Boston platforms have a combined reach of 185,000+ followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Marc had highly recommended the chicken wings, and they were very good. To acknowledge the referral, I took a picture of the wings and was preparing to post it on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, tagging the restaurant and Hidden Boston. Unfortunately for the restaurant, they had no Instagram or Twitter accounts, and still don’t today. As a result, the restaurant didn’t benefit from a post that would have been visible to a minimum of 150,000 people (IG and Twitter), plus the retweets and people who searched Google or searched the hashtag #ChickenWings. And when I was there, the restaurant wasn’t very busy…

There is no excuse in 2017 for restaurants and most businesses to ignore the importance of (at a minimum) establishing and maintaining social media accounts. You can’t benefit from ‘passive’ promotion from ambassadors of your restaurant if you’re not even in the game. Sometimes it is about life and death, and other times it’s about your brand, reputation, promotions, and crisis management.

Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” (25+ million copies sold), noted in a blog post on 10/31/08:

I sometimes use the metaphor of an Emotional Bank Account. Like a financial bank account, you can make deposits and take withdrawals from the account. When you make consistent deposits, out of your integrity and out of your empathy—that means your understanding of what deposits and withdrawals are to other people—those two things—empathy and integrity—that little by little you can restore trust.

This metaphor translates perfectly to businesses and the people who own, lead, manage, and operate them. And PR, social media, and marketing play a critical role in consistently making deposits to build trust and respect with employees, vendors, your community, and current and future customers.

Life and death. During the summer of 2016, a very popular Boston food truck suddenly lost a young member of their work family to a tragic death. A few days later, the owner of the food truck took to social media and posted a heartfelt tribute and a link to a campaign to raise money for their brother’s funeral services. As a result, they raised almost 2 times their goal so the family of the deceased could properly pay their respects and celebrate his life. No business or human being is exempt from unexpected tragedy.

Restaurants and other businesses face challenges every day–less extreme examples than above, that require effective communication with their customers and their network. If a sprinkler head explodes, you’re robbed, experience a fire, flooding, or mechanical failure, and need to communicate temporary or extended closures, the larger your network is, the easier it is to get the word out, on your terms.

Many social media “resisters” haven’t established accounts because of their misconception about what’s involved to get started and maintain them. It’s really not as difficult as many people think. Here are a few examples of why restaurants and small businesses should have a minimum of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and a growing email database for newsletters:

  • Recruiting staff.
  • Congratulating/recognizing employees.
  • Acknowledging and thanking loyal regulars and new customers.
  • Promoting/co-branding with vendors, neighbors, friends, and peers.
  • Crisis management-communicating on your terms, not an editor’s.
  • Promoting on-site events and off-site charity event participation.
  • Marketing food and drink specials and seasonal menu changes.
  • Notifying the public when you’re closed due to a private event.
  • Notification of holiday hours, vacation closures, and medical emergencies.
  • Notification when remaining open during snowstorms or extreme weather.
  • Linking to, and acknowledging media coverage, and positive amateur & professional reviews.
  • The passive benefit of customer ‘ambassadors’ promoting your business for you.
  • Grass roots, organic, social media marketing leads to broader media coverage.
  • Building goodwill and making deposits into the “emotional bank accounts” of employees, vendors, and the public.

Imprints and impressions derived from social media drive decisions about where customers dine and consumers spend money. And all businesses can benefit from some genuine goodwill at some point during their tenure. Even busy restaurants have gaps that could be filled in with effective social media marketing. I know of several restaurants that are slow Sunday thru Wednesday that are doing little or nothing to help their own cause via social media and email marketing.

A common refrain I hear from restaurant and business owners is, “I don’t have time for all that social media stuff.” With the increasing number of restaurants and competing entities, restaurants and small businesses cannot afford to ignore the benefits of establishing and maintaining social media platforms. They are essential, and failure to embrace social media will put restaurants and small businesses at a competitive disadvantage.  It’s not that hard to get started or improve upon what you are currently doing.

After requests from prospective clients in Boston and across the US, I’m now offering a new Social Media Strategy/Reboot Consultation for restaurant and small business clients. This social media marketing, independent audit, and workshop, is a way to ensure that you, your staff, and affiliates are maximizing the potential to market your business. This candid analysis and feedback will ensure that your restaurant/business is at the forefront of social media marketing, you’re “in the game,” and that you remain current with ideas to improve your business and income on an ongoing basis.

Who will benefit?

#1- Restaurants and small businesses across the USA currently not using or maximizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email marketing to engage their current and prospective customers to maximize sales.

#2- Restaurants and small businesses that are using social media but realize they could be doing a much better job, and need a jump-start to inspire them and get them back on track.

Details and pricing here.

Please forward this post to any restaurant or small business owners who could benefit from it.

Thank you-Patrick  Email: Patrick@servernotservant.com

Instagram and Twitter: @PatrickMBoston

Disclosure: I have a professional relationship with Marc Hurwitz of Hidden Boston, and refer restaurant and small business clients to him for sponsored social media posts.


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