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5 Ways for Restaurants in Youngstown to Use Social Media to Get More Customers

Written by: Dennis Schiraldi, Owner – CYO Marketing

Queen of Hearts

So much has recently been made of the Queen of Hearts card game being used to attract patrons to restaurants all over the Mahoning Valley. While an interesting guerilla marketing tactic I have a few hang ups. In theory I have been told that it helps to create a behavior and people keep coming back.

I think that would be all well and good, if you owned a casino. However if you own a restaurant I think you want to be known for your food, good times and mostly your product. Which again should be serving up really kick ass food and telling people about it over social media. The reason being is that 90% of all dining out decisions start with online search. Besides if the pot does not grow to ridiculous portions, how much do you really stand to gain?

Frankly I am doing this for a couple of reasons: I care and want to see you succeed, while the Queen of Hearts is a fun idea there’s so much more you can be doing to engage your audience with true engagement, I am a foodie, frankly I’m tired, actually exhausted of seeing posts about your restaurant telling me you’ve got $5 off lunch specials.

If you are running a Queen of Hearts game in Youngstown, don’t stop. However seriously consider an integrated strategy for digital and direct marketing that can fully maximize your opportunity!

Want more customers, make great food and tell people about it!

It’s time to bring me and all of  your customers value. I’ll gladly pay double for a meal if it’s great. I bought an $18.00 bison with duck bacon burger from the good folks at The Magic Tree Pub this past week in Boardman, Ohio. Why? Because it’s freaking amazing. You’ll be surprised how much people will pay for value and not just a ticket into the circus. Here are five suggestions to incorporate into your social media strategy to engage customers that will love you for your food!!!

 

Food & Wine Pairings

If you are a restaurant and have expertise in pairing really great food with really great vino. Push that out on your social media channels, maybe a blog. Always link it back to your website, give a very high quality picture. Not hard to do in this day and age with Instagram. Don’t just give me the red is good with beef and lamb and white wine is great with fish and chicken. Without being to promotional, use a wine that’s in your restaurant, maybe a featured dish. Subtle, push out four or five messages that are going to educate and engage me. Every so often go for the kill, the strong call to action, come visit us, etc.

 

YouTube Videos

 

Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas is a not only on the Mt. Rushmore of BBQ pitmasters, he’s a freaking BBQ god. I cannot say enough about this man’s brisket, beef ribs, the simplicity behind his rubs, explanation behind his preparation, the cook, wood he uses for the smoke. Just genius!

How does a little BBQ joint in Austin gain in nationwide popularity to the point that lines form daily for a Noon opening and by 5PM they are out of food.

First and foremost he’s known for what he does, that’s great food and more specifically smoking delicious meats for hours on end to produce some the world’s best BBQ!

The second reason is his use of digital marketing and social media. You want to become a recognized leader, tell us how by posting videos of yourself teaching us how to cook. Be authentic, witty, funny, compelling interesting videos.

You will build an audience, it will take time but so did building your restaurant. People will begin to like, to share and engage with the videos whenever they need to know how to make something. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the market today, people will find you and they will love you for it!

Food Blog

 

foodsense

This is a little more work, but it will give you substance to your social strategy. Commit to writing a blog one day per week to start. Brainstorm and editorial calendar. You can use this document, Fundamentals of Blogging as your blueprint. Come up with all sorts of topics, 5 Great Ways to Grill a Steak, Marinades for Chicken, Hosting a Dinner Party…I know it sounds crazy giving away free advice on your area of expertise. But the reality is that people, even if they  do eat out every night of the week can’t always end up at your restaurant. For the family that eats out once or twice a week even, you want to make sure you are top of mind. Keep in mind that if you own a restaurant and want to share recipes, do it within a context of a story. Tell a witty Thanksgiving story and then give us your best turkey, stuffing and gravy offering.

People that regularly consume your content will consume your food as well!!!

 

Craft Beer

Beer geeks are huge these days…I can remember when I was strange because in the mid-90’s I was drinking Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Which by today’s beer snobbery standards isn’t even considered a craft brew that started the craft brew movement.

rustbeltbrew

There are so many ways to tell the world about beer. Educating once again, using great visuals, video, Instagram sees to be a consistent them…Any sort of pictures of people drinking beer, tapping a new release, incorporating the brew master are all very cool. Again glad to hear about your happy hour but what’s so different. If you are giving me value, educating me about the beer I’m more likely to want to come drink beer at your pub, brewery, bar, whatever you’d like to call yourself.

Instagram

 

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Since I’ve brought it up so many times. I would highly, highly, highly encourage every restaurant in Youngstown, Ohio to get an Instagram account today. I would have signs on each table that would say follow us on Instagram. Put a hashtag that you would like to trend so people can easily find your restaurant. So for instance make it something that relates to you like: Your restaurants name #V2, #Laroccas, #Suzies, etc. People love to take pictures of their food, they love posting these pictures on Instagram.

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Stone Fruit Coffee Company – Absolutely getting it right on social media. Post by D.Schiraldi see those “loves” and comments. That’s building engagement! Please note Stone Fruit Coffee Company is not a CYO Marketing customer but we are big fans of their coffee and marketing strategy!!!

Engage your customers, encourage this behavior, it’s free marketing, actually they are paying you for a wonderful experience and telling people about it. Things travel online fast, 7x the amount of people who actually see information. Furthermore you will be able to send pictures out on Instagram which your followers will see more mouth-watering pics of food, high quality pics and high quality food, I think they call that a win win.

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Also, linking your account to Facebook is a good idea, however one thing to keep in mind. Each time you post on Instagram if you are going to share the picture directly from Instagram, you will want to minimize hashtags, however letting the post live natively in Instagram you’ll want anywhere between 8 – 10 relevant hashtags that people in your target market can find you.

 

Reason being there are really no gains from hash-tagging Facebook. Also keep in mind that Instagram has a video element…I could go on and on. You may want to pick a filter and that’s the one or two that you typically use. Bottom line is that if you are a restaurant people will love you on Instagram.

Yelp

Yelp is interesting and most if not all restaurant owners I speak with don’t like it. The reason being is that unless the restaurant owner is willing to pay they have little or no recourse against negative complaints on Yelp. However, I’m a huge Yelper, especially when I am traveling. In order to find a restaurant I will generally use the location services and look for restaurants with great reviews. Instead of shying away from this, why not embrace it. Why not try to take the liberty of making sure your patron has the most wonderful dining experience in the world. Be proactive ask them if they are on Yelp to rate you. See what you can do as part of that conversation to make sure they’ve had a great time. Regardless of what you do…People are going to rate you whether you want them to or not. Let me repeat, Yelp has given everyone in the world the opportunity to be a food critic. You can either decide to play or not play, but people will still play. As a restaurant owner, which I am not. I’d rather try to have an active role and influence this than be a victim.

 

About CYO Marketing

There are a lot of great ideas and ways to use social media and digital marketing for your restaurant. We did not even get into websites, which strangely enough most restaurants in Youngstown don’t even have one. CYO Marketing is extremely passionate about social media marketing, seeing it done right. That means providing high quality pictures, brevity but interesting posts, links, doing all the fundamentals to help build engagement. Doing this in a way that’s well thought out, creative, fun, pragmatic and real-time. We are also passionate about really good food. Eating it, cooking it and talking about it. And we want to see businesses in the food and bar industry not just survive but thrive. While the Queen of Hearts may make you a quick buck, we feel we can help you build a long-term fan base over social media, that will rave about the high quality food you serve and turn your customers into raving fans online!!!

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