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Battle for the Plate – 29 Social Media Ways Restaurants Can Compete for Customers Online

food Good News – Restaurants are probably experience the largest industry growth in the past 10 years. Due to a strong upswing in the economy, going out to eat and hanging out with others is back to being a national pastime.

More Good News – With the boom in foot traffic to restaurants, the 82% of people who currently carry a smart phone are potential brand ambassadors for the places they visit.

Bad News – Unfortunately, for restaurants, the good news tends to end when the customer walks in the door. Instead of courting a decision making customer seeking a new place to spend time (and money) or reaching out with good content to entice new customers through the customers already sitting in their business, most restaurants let customers walk out the door with a full stomach without thinking about the next visit.

Of course, the growing trend is to offer surveys that require customers to return to claim a freebie, but this does little to invite new customers to come to the restaurant or battle against the competition for the right to place a plate in front of the customer.


You have come to the right place, if you want to:

  • Drive location based traffic to restaurants and eateries.
  • Enhance exposure and brand awareness of the location / business.
  • Create a buzz around the business that draws people into engagement.

Social media content will change according the age group of the restaurant, type of restaurant, type of food served, and location. What does not change is the Growth Strategy because the biggest part of a social media strategy is execution of engaging content.

Social Media Avenues – These are your top social media channels to maintain and optimize for a successful campaign.


  • Facebook: Still the leading social media in the USA, Facebook allows fans to engage on a high level with businesses.
  • Twitter: 140 characters is enough space to share an idea, but don’t forget the image, hashtags, tags, and links.
  • Pinterest: Generally, the highest conversion for women of a middle to upper income bracket. The average time spent on Pinterest is 42 minutes.
  • Instagram: If a picture says a thousand words – Instagram pictures with hashtags and a call to action mean traffic to the door.
  • Location Based Marketing (LBM): LBM usually means Yelp and FourSqaure with some Facebook check-ins and TripAdvisor for tourists. These should be full profiles with all of the treatments of a FB profile. Many people make the mistake of not claiming an existing profile. Make sure everything the LBM profile represents exactly what you want a customer to see. These searches come up higher because they attached to geo-location.
  • Google Plus (G+): Google+ is the Facebook version for Google. Adding G+ for local businesses gives you instant access to the Google search engine and rankings.
  • YouTube: As the number two search engine in the world right now, YouTube is an excellent way to virally distribute your message to the audience you want to reach in a manner they want to receive the information.
  • Engagement Marketing: This type of marketing includes QR codes, text to join or get a deal, reviews, and check-in services. These allow people to do the promotional for the restaurant and get something in return.
  • LinkedIn: If the restaurant is seeking to build a business following, LI groups and company pages give you instant access to a lunch-time or happy hour crowd.
  • PR: Press pieces submitted to media promote better exposure avenues.
  • Organic SEO: Needs instant submission and manual listing of XML / pages in Google / Yahoo.
  • Newsletter: Weekly email blast or monthly newsletter lets you keep yourself in the eye of your user. Specials, deals, and events are all promotable directly to their inbox.
  • Blogging: A fresh supply of content, several times a week, which is properly optimized and listed in blog directories, will increase traffic to the website. Blog marketing and link exchanges between blogs, societies, and associations particular to the niche of writers will boost traffic. Plus, it gives the reader comfort to be able to interact with a voice.
  • Advertising: A Facebook ad can be very cheap and extremely targeted. The ad should lead back to a Facebook page that is complete and robust.

Checklist: 29 Ways to Battle for the Plate – Growth Strategy


  • Facebook (FB) – 3 to 5 times per week.
  • Twitter (TW) – linked to FB. Posts as often.
  • Pinterest (PIN) – 3 to 5 times per week.
  • Instagram (IG) – 3 to 5 times per week.
  • G+ – linked to FB. Posts as often.
  • YouTube (YT) – 1x per week
  • Newsletter (N) – weekly
  • Engagement (E) – ongoing.
  • LBM (Yelp, Foursquare) (LBM) – Once per week.
  • Across Social Channels (ALL)
  1. All channels are branded with logos, great cover photos, information using keywords and location, maps, and good images. ALL
  2.  Facebook tabs are used to connect newsletters, multiple locations, menu choices, Food or drink specials, events, happy hours, reservations, and videos.  FB
  3.  Food photos (people expect to see food at restaurants) with full descriptions using keywords. The picture will say a ton, but search engines cannot read pictures. Use your keywords (such as location) with hashtags (#) and tags (@). ALL
  4.  Profile a customer / employee of the week. Take pictures inside of the restaurant and of people have a good time.   It humanizes the experience and makes others want to participate. ALL
  5.  Create albums of “the average night” at the restaurant. Increases engagement and makes the people in the pictures want to share! Make sure your albums have a pictures, description with #, and invitations to share. FB, IG, TW, G+, PIN, YT (can make into video)
  6.  Make everyday an event. For events, invite people to come to a special tasting of a new dish at the bar. Means they will probably stay for dinner.   Make sure your events have a profile picture, description with #, and invitations to share. FB, TW, PIN
  7.  Good experiences = good reviews. Ask for reviews and tell people to please share their pictures through check-ins, reviews, and tagging. ALL
  8.  Social media exclusive only deals used to promote check-in and shares will ramp up involvement. FB, LBM, G+, PIN
  9.  Contest for free lunch or appetizers or beverage used to promote check-in and shares keeps people involved AND brings them to claim the giveaway. ALL
  10.  Niche the market. Use deals or promotions for a table of three or more people, kids eat at a discount when parents dine, girls nights out, or couples only nights gives you the opportunity to niche out a frequency group. Find a night to own – like Tuesdays at Tina’s offers free tapas per table for ladies nights. Or, create a menu just for business people that are quick, easy, and inexpensive to take a business client. ALL
  11.  Ask people to share their videos, testimonials, and pictures by tagging the page (you can always remove if it is not good). ALL
  12.  Include videos (because they play automatically) in your page. When they hit others feeds, the fun time is automatically in process. FB, PIN
  13.  Name a drink or name a plate each month. This gives people the opportunity to participate by naming something in the restaurant. Ask an opinion and they will come. ALL
  14.  Survey – ask people their opinion of a specialty and share the good results on social media. ALL
  15.  Share a recipes or cooking tips for something small – like a favorite drink or sauce that goes on a dish – and ask people what they like best with that recipe. ALL
  16.  Ask for either/or input. Would you rather white napkins or red napkins? What is your favorite game – football or basketball (specific to the area)? FB, IG, G+
  17.  Event trendsetters – post all of your events on social media and ASK people to LIKE/SHARE. If Valentine’s Day is coming up, offer a free bottle of wine or dessert with a seating for two. Maybe every lady gets a rose. Find ways to be different and make the experience special for diners. ALL
  18.  Tent cards on tables with QR codes for special offers, asking for check-ins, join email lists, and text to join programs (use Constant Contact – so easy!). OFFLINE
  19.  Posters around the restaurant and IN THE BATHROOM with QR codes for special offers, asking for check-ins, join email lists, and text to join programs (use Constant Contact – so easy!). OFFLINE
  20.  Include a link to a menu, testimonial, instructional video, or any other rich media you want people to look at….even if it places to go in your area.   Do not ignore the tourist traffic. ALL
  21.  Timing is everything. Find out when most of your customers (look in the insights or google analytics – install them if not installed!!) are looking at your page. Find the right time/date and schedule release of materials ahead of time. FB – but everything else follows.
  22.  Sharing breaking news, sponsorship, community involvement, and human stories with your customers. ALL
  23.  Ask customers to share their favorite drink or dish and tell you why it is your favorite. ALL
  24.  Have a word of the day that a customer can say to a server to get a free treat like an insider’s exclusive. NOTE: The server should prompt diners and if they don’t know the world of the day – score! The serve can share it with the secretly, give them the treat, and tell them join your social now to stay in-the-know. ALL
  25.  Put a QR code or check-in reminder on a napkin. People sit and look at napkins at the table or bar. Wasted space – use a call to action.   FB, LBM, G+, Engagement
  26.  Celebrate unique things …like national chocolate day…with pictures of your great chocolate mousse….or gluten free day with a recipe. Get out of the box. ALL
  27.  Be prepared to respond to negative issues. Restaurants are the most likely to be attacked because of food, service, wait time, or servers. Know how you will respond – apologize and make it right! Goes a long way toward making your customer want to come back. ALL
  28.  Partner with another business to do promotions on their social media space. For example, if you are having a girls night, find a local spa that will give a gift card for a manicure.   ALL
  29.  Advertise on Facebook or Yelp – offers and deals – that are targeted to your area. This allows you to attract those who are looking for that restaurant as well as those who know about it – while saving money. FB. YP

What makes a great post?


  1. Pictures and Images – Be expressive with your images. There are hundreds of posts everyday competing for the attention of your customer. Be impressive!
  2. Description with keywords (think outside of the box) – A set of keyword are many times too limited. Keywords should include location; any recognized events that match your demographic, and information of value. If the customer enjoys golf and there is a Masters coming to the area – use all of those keywords in the post. Think outside of the food industry for keywords – look for habitual behaviors to draw traffic like golf or boating.
  3. Hashtag keywords (#) – This makes your posts searchable in social media and search engines.
  4. Tag (@) anyone / place you can (you can tag cities!) – These tags help people find you through other businesses and places.
  5. CTA (call to action) – Tell people to LIKE/SHARE or take some type of action.   If you do not ask, then they will not do!
  6. Be consistent. Find what works – do it again. While there are basic guidelines for WHEN to post, your Insights will help you pinpoint the best times. Start off by trying several different times and gauge response.


Now that you know HOW to post, WHEN to post, and WHAT to post, there are a few final words about the downside of social media marketing.

  • If you are not consistent, then you will drop out of search engines and your customers – when they find you – might think you have gone out of business.   Be committed to making strong posts everyday…after all, your customer is waiting for you.
  • Brand and reputation management are a vital part of your social media efforts.  If someone says something negative about their experience (and they WILL – it is coming!), then respond quickly and offer to make it right. No excuses – no reasons…just make it right.

Now…you have everything you need to promote your restaurant through social media…get going!




Social Media Second, a division of Magic Marketing USA, has successfully launched business start-ups using social media and helped amplify growth for businesses seeking to jump to the next level of brand exposure, customer outreach, or sales using social media marketing.

Magic Marketing USA executes high performance SEO, web design, and social media campaigns using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to reach customers quicker and cheaper with better results. We call it a 360 approach to marketing that includes every single avenue with high return on investment.


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