The one constant that will always exist in the Restaurant Industry is that there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. It is this very reason that we started the Restaurant marketing division of our company.
While this phenomenon is something I don't see changing anytime soon, what I do see changing is the way in which people are required to spend time, when promoting and marketing their Restaurant. The largest addition to this exercise being social media.
As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, social media and online reputation management are not going anywhere. It is no longer appropriate to say "I wonder if this is going to stick?". It's simply time to embrace these things and make them part of your marketing strategy. The problem though, becomes the question of how you are going to fit these extra, "necessary" activities, into an already full schedule? The answer is actually quite simple: Outsource it.
You most likely have companies that handle your ad design, print marketing, and your website, right? After all, you don't know how to run a print shop, or code html. Your job is to give people outstanding service, and great food. So why would you try to tackle new, emerging, and rapidly changing technologies that fall into the Social Media realm? Wouldn't it make more sense to hire a professional team that will not only help you put together an effective strategy, but actually carry it out for you?
To those ends, I have put together a brief list of reasons that every Restaurant owner should consider, when deciding whether or not to outsource their social media and online marketing needs.
1) Don't lose site of what got you into the restaurant business in the first place
One of the risks every restaurant owner faces, when putting together their restaurant, is to get caught in the trap of becoming a "jack of all trades". While this might sound like a good thing, it is not. Not a week goes by that we don't interview a new perspective client, only find out that they have become so bogged down in systems and operations that they are unable to do the one thing that got them into the restaurant business in the first place...... to give people a great dining experience, with fantastic food!
The immediate question I always ask them is that if they are their own brand, and business (translation: If they don't fill seats, they make money), why would they risk not being able to do the one thing that will lead to food being able to be put on the table? It's one of those obvious questions that doesn't need any response, BUT it's only obvious once a restaurant owner has experienced the pain of being unable to conduct their "true" day to day business.
2) It's not as expensive as you think
Any subcontracted activity (and I do mean ANY), when compared to the revenue you can generate by having more free time, makes that activity worth the fees you pay your subcontractor. This applies, even to tasks that you think you can do in your "spare time" (evenings and weekends). What do I mean by this? For example:
You need to focus on your social media efforts, and communicate with people when they are at their computers and engaged. This is not at 11:30PM, when you are watching David Letterman. This is in the middle of the work day, when a person is sitting at their computer. That is of course prime time for you to be focusing on your front of house and back of house operations, making sure food is getting out to people on time, and making sure your diners are happy. Outsourcing your social media efforts allows you to continue doing these revenue generating activities, without impacting your exposure or brand strength.
3) Content Is King- No Matter What You Think, You Won't Have Time To Generate Enough
Content is king in social media marketing. Not only content, but ORIGINAL content. We've all heard that you can't just turn on automated RSS feeds to dump info into your facebook and twitter streams, because people will get annoyed and quit paying attention to you. People want content that applies to them. They are friends with, or are following you because you offer that content which they are most interested in.
Social media now plays a very important role in how search engines rank you. Your Google +, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles and posts for instance all contribute to your page ranking, just as much as your blog or website do. With that in mind, ORIGINAL content becomes key to your social media strategy. Simply put, if your content is identical to that of other restaurants (e.g. you find a article on an industry website, and you, as well as other restaurants share the information with social media groups), search engines are going to ignore your content and place little or no weight on it, with relation to your search ranking.
In order to make your social media efforts worth while, you NEED to be getting credit from search engines. The only way to do this is to have a steady stream of original content that goes out to all your sites, in a methodical, structured approach. But, don't forget reason #1. You didn't get into the restaurant business to become a content generating machine. You got into the restaurant business to give diners an amazing experience. All the more reason you need someone to help you with your social media efforts.
So as you can see, there are clearly some compelling reasons that you should seek assistance when planning a social media campaign. For next week's post, I'll pinpoint some key features, services and elements you should focus on, when selecting the vendor that is going to help you with this.
In the meantime, if you have questions about social media management, need help coming up with an effective strategy, or would like to discuss with us the possibility of having us take over your social media efforts, please feel free to contact me any time.