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Food, glorious food! Hot sausage and mustard! Nom Nom Nom. That is the first and only time you’ll ever here/read me saying nom. I promise. Anyway, on with the show! The benefits of social media for local businesses should never be underestimated, and it is often the case that these local businesses see success far quicker than slow-moving giants of the business world. Restaurants and eateries of all shapes and sizes have been using social media with varying degrees of success for a long time. This post focusses on a number of things that restaurants, cafes and the like can do to make the most of Twitter. Of course, offering excellent food and service is a good start…

1 – Make people aware of the fact that you are actually on Twitter

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If you want your customers to interact with you via Twitter, it makes sense to let them know that you are present on the platform while they are actually on your premises. I’ve been a few places recently and been keen to send a tweet about my experiences, but have been unable to easily find out if the restaurant is on Twitter – I don’t want to have to search for you! My lobster may get cold, all I want to do is make a snappy comment. Put your username on menus, display nicely behind the bar/counter etc etc. Don’t forget to encourage people to interact with you on Twitter and of course, monitor and respond. Please note, the sign above is completely made-up by me, Dave’s doesn’t exist (unfortunately!), and I would recommend making something that looks a lot better!

2 – Do spot-deals

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Let’s take a bakery serving delightful cakes and breads. You’ve created a number of masterpieces, but the day is ticking along, and your cakes are going to be ruined unless you shift them soon. Time to take to Twitter…

Hello #Edinburgh, we’ve got a deal on our cupcakes – buy 1 get 1 free between now & 4pm, just mention Twitter! #deals

By using the Edinburgh (or any other place of course!) hashtag, you are potentially gaining eye-ball time from people looking for local tweets. The #deals tag can also grab the attention of any bargain-hunters out there. Including a photo of your cakes would also increase impact. This approach can drive foot-fall and is also a great way of testing if you’re Twitter activity is working, as by asking people to mention Twitter at the point of purchase, you are finding out the source of that custom. This point is key – make sure your street address is in your Twitter bio. No point in telling people about a deal and making it hard for them to find you!

3 – Tweet photos, lots of them!

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The world is image-mad right now, with photo-sharing sites such as Instagram and Pinterest attracting the wears of people’s camera lenses at remarkable volumes. Sharing images on Twitter is something you really should get into the habit of, it adds intrigue to your posts and often increases chances of interactions and RTs (retweets). What should you be snapping and tweeting?

  • Your staff – add some personality to your restaurant by putting the people that make the magic happen out there for the world to see. Don’t just focus on the front-of-house team, include everybody!
  • Your food – if it looks great on camera, then tweet it out. This works well with daily specials etc, let people know your recommendations from your menu today
  • Your customers – Got regulars who love to eat at your place? Grab a pic of them enjoying themselves and tweet it. Get their permission first!
  • Your events – you may be holding a wine-tasting, or perhaps some cookery lessons – document it all on camera and tweet, tweet, tweet.

Please don’t tweet images for the sake of it! Make sure they add value. Don’t stop at still images either, expand into video and you can offer deeper insight in to the business and what makes it tick. Give new kid on the block (hang tough), Vine a shot, six second bursts can be highly effective.

4 – Interact with your customers

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This sounds obvious, but you’ll often see businesses of all sorts that have a presence on Twitter, but don’t actually use it to speak to their customers. Monitor your Twitter account for people mentioning you – not just by using your username, but also run searches for mentions that don’t use your @whatever. Be proactive! If people are praising you, say thanks. If they are being negative, apologise and offer a resolution. Don’t just interact when people are talking about you, try to dip into your feed and talk to your followers/people you’re following on an ad-hoc basis. Wishing people a happy birthday is a really nice touch, and very simple too! How about searching Twitter for people arriving in your city/town etc and send them a welcome tweet? Social by name, social by nature.

5 – Curate stuff

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First thing to do, is direct people to any articles, reviews etc about your restaurant. That’s pretty simple. But what about pulling together some links that appeal to the locals? Local news, events and so forth. This is a nice way to become a resource for your audience but also helps you ensure that your Twitter output isn’t all ‘me,me,me’. You can extend the curation to other areas that are relevant, for example, your cafe may use fair-trade products – that could be a stream of content for you to focus on.

That’s a wrap…

So, Twitter can drive footfall, help you shift stock, give you feedback and help you to build a relationship with customers or indeed, future customers. One last tip, try to have somebody who is able to take a look at Twitter during service/opening times, and not just after closing, it can be tough to do, but it will offer people a much better experience. There are a lot of other things that you can do with Twitter, just try to be creative, helpful and insightful.

Are you using Twitter and other social media for your food service based business? Working out well for you? Maybe you’ve got a restaurant that you love to interact with on Twitter? Do give them a shout-out here. 

Velocity Digital can help businesses of all shapes and sizes make the most of the many benefits a strategic approach to social media can bring. Please do contact us or view our services to find out more.

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Mike McGrail


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