There are many good reasons why restaurants, taverns and bars should be using social media marketing. It is a great way to interact with new customers and keep up with existing ones. It drives traffic to your website. It is much less expensive than traditional advertising mediums like television, radio and print.

Stacey Kane, Director of Marketing for California Tortilla, says: “For smaller restaurant chains like us, social media is an easy and inexpensive way to reach our customers. It is a way to reach people instantaneously. There is no big backup on producing artwork or a radio spot. You have the idea and you can send it out.”

Here is a recipe for social media success:

Build Your Community

Building a good community is like preparing a good meal. You start with the right ingredients. Open a Facebook account – the world’s largest site for social media marketing. Facebook has become a digital calling card for many restaurants. It allows you to network and stay in touch with your current customers and make new ones.

Twitter is the other good social media site for restaurants. It asks the question, “What are you doing?” Write short one-liners announcing new services, specials and menu features. Start conversations. Be an authentic voice of your restaurant. Try to blend humor with your message. Don’t over do it. Go with a natural flow and you will fit right in.

Pay Attention to What People Are Saying

Now that you have a community, listen to what your fans and friends say. What is their favorite food? What was their favorite restaurant experience? Who is their favorite waiter or waitress? When you participate with your fans on social media platforms, you make them feel wanted and you make them feel at home.

Pay Attention to Your Competition

Keep an eye on what your competition is doing. Where are they listed? Who are their fans on Facebook? What kind of promotions do they offer? If your competitor has a website, check inbound links for their business directories and then add yourself to the same directories. Make sure your restaurant is on Google Maps, too. You can do this by signing up at Google’s Local Business Center.

Promotions and Contests

Nothing beats a promotion or contest. Create promotions regularly and then give them an event name. When you tie-in Facebook Events for your promotions, they are automatically promoted on your Facebook Page. Post lunch or dinner specials for your restaurant. Promote monthly wine tastings if you own a wine shop. If you own a bar, create a Facebook event each week for happy hour. California Tortilla has an exciting contest called “Secret Password Day” – a password is released on a specific day and people use the password for free food and items. Discounts are a great way to endear yourself with your social community. When you give them special coupons, you are not only telling them you are a good restaurant, but you are a good person, too.

Building a community around your restaurant by leveraging these social media tools takes time and dedication. If you are able to participate and add value for the members of your community, you will succeed in social media marketing and fill up your tables as well. Bon appetit!

Dan Chambers
Vesta Digital
http://www.vestadigital.com