A large portion of the success that many restaurants enjoy can be attributed to their promotional activities. Marketing is essential for any business in the modern era, especially when there are hundreds if not thousands of other businesses vying for the attention of the same customers.
To get ahead of the competition, restaurant owners and managers will need to market their business on a wide array of platforms. While traditional newspaper and television advertisements have boosted the popularity of restaurants in the past, these platforms have become less important with the rise of digital platforms such as social media and review sites.
Let's look at the top online restaurant marketing platforms and how they can be used effectively.
Many of the online platforms included in this list are social media sites and for good reason. These have become important outlets for marketing due to their immense popularity with users of all ages and backgrounds. The heavyweight champion in the realm of social media platforms is Facebook.
Facebook is used by a whopping 2.7 billion users each month, which makes it an important site for promoting businesses.
Restaurants can promote themselves on Facebook in two ways: business pages and paid advertisements.
Starting a business page gives restaurant marketers the ability to upload photos, videos, and share posts with followers. They can provide regular updates about new offers and answer any questions that users ask publicly or through private messages.
Facebook does not charge businesses when starting a page on the site. However, restaurants can pay to have their page advertised to non-followers. This paid promotion method enables your restaurant to reach a wider audience and could potentially boost its popularity.
However, there are many free restaurant marketing methods on the platform. Marketers that do not want to pay for advertising can still promote their business by posting quality content that gets shared by their followers.
Instagram is another social media platform that features a sizable user base. This platform is also owned by Facebook; however, Instagram’s brand engagement rate is much higher than other social media sites.
Instagram also stands out as a site that excels for sharing images. Marketers can upload different photographs of the restaurant, its menus, and food items to promote the brand. Many restaurants advertise their special promotions on this platform with the help of images that are easy to share.
In addition to this, marketers can offer day-to-day updates in the form of Instagram “stories”. These are temporary image or video posts that disappear after 24 hours. Restaurants often use Instagram stories to provide a behind-the-scenes view of operations and menu development. This helps foster a deeper bond with followers and encourages customer loyalty.
The aforementioned Instagram restaurant marketing ideas are all free. However, restaurants can also pay to have their pages advertised on the platform. With this method, your restaurant’s page will show up in the Instagram feeds of users who do not follow the page.
Twitter is another popular social media platform used by restaurants for promotional activities. It is primarily used to share short 280-character messages along with photos and short video clips.
Restaurants often share exclusive promotions and deals via public tweets. Many of these posts are accompanied by unique hashtags that users are encouraged to share to promote the brand.
Marketers sometimes hold contests where users get the chance to win a gift voucher or a special prize by sharing a hashtag. This promotion method costs the restaurant very little, but has the potential to significantly boost their popularity.
Yelp is a famous review site used by thousands of businesses across the globe. Restaurant owners and marketers can promote their business by listing it on the site. Customers who have visited the restaurant can then leave reviews about their dining experience.
Review sites such as Yelp are important for promotion because people often look up restaurant reviews on such sites before dining out at an eatery.
Once restaurant owners have listed their business on the site, they can upload photographs of the interior, food items, and their menu. They can also post important information such as operation hours, locations, and contact numbers.
Yelp is essentially a site where users promote your business for you by posting their reviews. However, the rating they provide can affect the popularity of your business. For this reason, restaurants should strive to offer the best possible dining experience if they wish to attract more business.
While the average rating from reviews may affect the popularity of your restaurant, the order in which your restaurant is listed alongside other restaurants could also affect its popularity.
For example, if a Yelp user wants to find restaurants in their area that offer pad thai on their menu, they can search for the dish using the website’s search function. A list of restaurants that sell pad thai will then be displayed to them. However, the first page of results will be populated by restaurants with a high number of reviews or a high average rating.
If your restaurant is relatively new and hasn’t been reviewed by Yelp users, it may not show up on the first page of search results. However, you can still promote it on the front page of search results by paying the site. With this method, your restaurant will be listed on the first page above the organic non-paid listings.
As you can see, there are plenty of platforms for promoting your restaurant online. Each of these sites is useful for promoting your brand via a different method. Restaurant marketers will need to learn how to use each one effectively to get ahead of competitors and their marketing techniques.