Social media is practically an obligatory topic for industry events and how-to articles, and for good reason: About half of all consumers learn about food through social networks, and last year, 63% of restaurants used social media for marketing.* While engagement and investment in social media are on a continuous rise, when it comes to using channels to build an audience and bring in new guests, the whole effort can feel crowded, noisy, and inexact.
We tapped OpenTable’s own social media team to try to answer the big questions: how should you use each platform, and what should you post? What works, and what doesn’t – and how can you know for sure? Finally, how can you leverage what other people are posting to promote your own business? Over the next several weeks, we’re rolling out social media best practices for restaurants today, acknowledging that platforms and behaviors continue to change. When the landscape changes (and it will!) you can come here to find more tips and tricks.
It’s Not Matching Luggage
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that social media is not matching luggage, meaning what works on one channel doesn’t always make sense for another social platform. While you can certainly cross-promote content and post the same image or text across channels to expand reach, optimizing it for a particular platform is key.
For example, each platform has different copy length constraints, and it’s important to tailor your post per channel to effectively get your message across. Also, text on images is treated differently in platform algorithms, so a Twitter post may contain too much text on the image to see strong engagement on Instagram.
Remember to abide by the 20% rule. This is how Facebook and Instagram keep advertising messages from disrupting users’ feeds. The rules states that only 20% of an image can contain text and logos, if the image contains more it will be punished in the algorithm and served to fewer users, negatively impacting reach and engagement.
Social is a great place to build brand awareness and strong relationships with your diners – they are your megaphone! Think about each channel as a separate community so you can set key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure success. Important metrics to consider include impressions/reach (how many people are seeing your content in social feeds) and engagement (how many people are interacting with your content via comments, shares likes, video views, and link clicks). Tracking these metrics helps you optimize content based on what your audience responds to.
Keep in mind that while promotion (impressions) of your restaurant is key on social, engagement (engagement rate) is also essential to fostering a community. In other words, it’s not just about how many people see your content, it’s how they interact with it through likes and shares.
And remember: social media – paid and unpaid – is about brand awareness. It can be difficult to track users who find you on these channels and actually become guests at your restaurant, so set your goals and expectations accordingly. One way to improve assessment is to use your OpenTable restref ID to track reservations back to social media campaigns and measure their ROI. (Or, consider trying OpenTable marketing solutions to drive more bookings – you can customize marketing to your unique needs and see what works best.)
Keeping Track of What’s Working
Social media is ever-changing, adapting for consumers’ changing behaviors. For instance, Instagram adds new buttons and features to their stories feature extremely often, they recently added a group chat option as a solution for people who want to have big group discussions on topics they see in stories. The tips and tricks you’ll find in this article are based on social marketing trends now, but over time best practices may shift.