The digital world asks a lot from restaurants. Posting fresh, compelling content to different channels every day and always trying to stay top of mind can get overwhelming. As digital marketing and social media platforms evolve, nailing down and executing an online strategy feels more daunting than ever. But you don’t need to push new content to be found – and be current – where diners are searching for your restaurant.
Last month, we introduced a new Open for Business series all about online marketing, tapping our own internal team for tips on best practices on each platform. And while yes, digital marketing requires planning, constant attention, and analysis, there are also plenty of easy things restaurants can do right now to optimize their presence. Below, we share four simple ways to build your brand presence. Start by updating these channels, then think of everything that comes next as bonus points.
1. Optimize your Google Business listing.
Every month, there are five billion searches for restaurants on Google. A free business profile lets you connect with all of those potential guests through Google Search and Maps. Like with Yelp, you can post photos and offers to your profile to inspire diners to come in for a meal.
To claim your restaurant’s Google Business listing, log into the Google account you want associated with the business. From there, you can search for your restaurant’s name – if you see your restaurant in the results, select it and follow the steps for verification.
Google may verify your business by calling you on your business phone number or sending you an email. But the most common method is to send a postcard to your restaurant’s physical address. This can take up to five days and look like a spam mailer, so keep an eye out for it.
If you search for your restaurant and don’t see it in results, select “Create a business with this name.” Since your restaurant has a brick-and-mortar location, select “Yes” when asked if you want to add a location to your listing. Enter your restaurant’s address, hit “Next,” and on the next prompt, select “Yes, I also serve them outside my location” if you offer delivery. You’ll also be prompted to enter your service area, which is an optional step. (If you don’t offer delivery, select “no.”)
Next add a business category, like “Italian restaurant.” You can always change it later. Finally, you can add your restaurant’s phone number and website, which is vital because it gives diners a way to reach you easily with questions or to book a reservation. Select “Finish” to begin the verification process.
2. Set up an Instagram (business) account.
If you use Instagram with a personal account, you know the drill: post your best photos, like and be liked, comment and reply, and don’t forget the hashtags. Your restaurant’s Instagram account will be similar to your personal one, but business accounts give access to tools that can help you optimize your feed, like analytics and paid advertising.
Operators can see their audience’s demographics (age range, location, and more), as well as which posts had the most impressions or engagement. That kind of insight gives you the power to optimize your social media strategy based on your best-performing assets. Businesses can also add buttons such as “Contact” and “Reserve” to their profiles so users can reach out or book a table. Finally, you can put money behind your posts to reach more people, if you choose to do so.
If you already have a regular Instagram account for your restaurant, you can convert it to a business account easily in “Settings” without losing any content. If you’re starting from scratch, create an account using a Facebook account, email or phone number. (It’s a good idea to use a general restaurant or company email to ensure you’ll always have access, even if the person who created it leaves.) During the setup process, you’ll see the words “Try Instagram Business Tools” – click there to make yours a business account. Select a category and sub-category (think “restaurant” and “dim sum restaurant”, and add your physical address – this is key, because a location makes you searchable on Instagram. Once you’re up and running, start posting! [Read more…]