Beyond all the buzz, social media is about conversations and connections. The most popular social networks have been around for years now, each touting engaged users looking for great content and interactions with their favorite brands and places.
Here’s why you should care: There’s a robust conversation happening within these digital social networks. These conversations will happen with or without your involvement, so best to take control and become part of the conversation.
This is the first in a series of posts dedicated to the what, why, and how of social media as it applies to the restaurant business. Expect to understand enough about each network to determine which will work best for your needs, how these platforms differ, and the best ways to grow a following and drive engagement.
The fun thing about social media is that it’s applicable in nearly any context. Personal news. Business news. Promotions. Advertising. For the past three years, I’ve produced Chefs+Tech, a weekly newsletter that highlights what’s new and what’s next in the restaurant + digital and social space. I started that project as a way to bring my two favorite things — restaurants and creative social content — together. (Before this I spent my days as a lifestyle editor and then as part of the communications team at Twitter.)
Chefs and restaurants, in particular, can be hugely successful businesses on social media. Why? These platforms are perfect for creative expression — plus, who doesn’t like to look at beautiful images of food, or stay in touch with the kitchen of their favorite restaurant?
To start, here are three important things to remember about your social media presence, whether you have one currently or are looking to build one in the future.
Creating a successful presence takes time.
A good social presence is often planned, scripted, and can take weeks or months to build in momentum. These networks require attention, a consistent stream of content, and some general care and feeding to thrive. Great success here doesn’t happen overnight and requires commitment.
Who holds the controls to the social media accounts is up to you. In-house PR and marketing teams are primed to take the lead here, since these channels are part of a brand’s identity. If you don’t have in-house help (or outsourced agency help), designate one or two team members to maintain social networks. A small time investment in setup and understanding what works keeps daily upkeep manageable.
Each social network is different.
That’s the bad news for a busy team. The good news: you can absolutely choose the network(s) that meet your needs. In fact, focusing time on a couple of them — or even just blowing out one with excellent content — is a viable strategy. Certain networks work better in particular circumstances. There’s great room for creativity here, from your restaurant, from your chef, from your talented staff.
It’s a conversation.
Great-looking photos of delicious plates of food speak for themselves, but these services are inherently…. social, which means that you should expect to interact with friends and followers — actually, we’ll call them fans and potential customers. That said: the expectation of responding to every single comment or question in real time is unreasonable, but effectively ignoring an onslaught of comments or questions won’t make you any friends. (Don’t worry, we’ll share how to make the best use of your time!)
Stay tuned for detailed explanations of top social networks worth your time, best practices for posting, and inspiring examples of engaging content.
Photo Credit: Erin Kunkel