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.

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  • Thanks for the comment Joe!

  • Great information. Most restaurant owners that I speak with do not have the time to implement a marketing program let alone know what the latest trends are. It is best to get people involved that know that side of the business.

  • You are right Angela.  There is definitely a fine balance that people should strive to maintain.

  • Great post Chris - I think we can all agree that a restaurants social media presence is incredibly important. I hear from our customers all the time about how much they wish they had time to do more with their apps - enlisting in outside help or hiring someone in house to focus on social/mobile marketing is a must for any owner that doesn't have the time to do it themselves (is that everyone?!). But I also agree that the owner shouldn't be too removed from their presence so that they are comfortable with the direction its going and in line with their brand and voice!

  • Thanks Carolyn!  Next time I'm in your restaurant, I'll try to make sure I have a little extra time on my schedule and I'll see if you're around, so I can introduce myself.

  • You're welcome Heather.  I still maintain that simply "seeing" a site, really doesn't do much, as it gives you no indication to all the behind the scenes and under the hood things that are occurring.

    BUT, I suppose it does beat being called a liar and a B.S. artist, by a faceless stranger behind a keyboard. So there is always that :)  Have a great weekend.

  • Wow, Chris. Small world! 

    Thank you very, very much for the kind words and the good blogging. Your opinion is truly appreciated, because, yes, it is very hard work.

    Hope to run in to you in person here in Silicon Valley one day.

    Cheers, Happy Easter and Happy Passover!

  • Thanks for the comment Carolyn.  If you like this post, you'll TOTALLY like my contribution that is going to go online this Monday.  I'm going to actually write about the key things one should look for, when selecting a social media partner. 

    Now obviously, because I own an agency, I'm writing it from that perspective, BUT, all the information in my post could easily be applied to the "in house" person you talk about.  For those reasons, I think it will be helpful to everyone, no matter what their plan of attack is.

    Our offices are about 3 miles up the road from you, on Murphy Ave., in Downtown Sunnyvale.  Mountain View's Castro street area is Restaurant central.  It's such a great place.  I'm a giant (translation: Godzilla) fan of micro breweries. In fact, as silly as it sounds, one of our main reasons for taking the office space we did, in downtown Sunnyvale, was due to the fact that is is literally 500 ft. from Firehouse Brewery.  What can I say, I'm a micro and craft beer dork :)

    Anytime I have the opportunity to have a lunch appointment in Mountain View, I always try to make sure we eat at Tied House. My staff and I have been dining with you guys for years.  Way back when our offices were in downtown San Jose, and you still had a location there (was sad to see that one go), and then again, when we moved our offices to Sunnyvale.

    Ok. So enough of my trip down memory lane.  The main point I want to make is this:

    You guys are a prime example of one of the restaurants I have been commenting on, that I would consider are the "rare few" that have all their stuff together and can effectively handle it themselves.  For that, you guys deserve much applause.  What you are doing is hard. There are many people out there, that are so quick to discount how hard the internal approach is, saying "we'll do it in-house. No big deal".  So......just in case you don't hear it enough, Congratulations!

    I can speak from actual first person experience. You guys rock. So much so that I would consider hiring any of you to work for us. It's really not every day that I could say that.

    Just my opinion and experiences.  Take them for what they are worth. But we truly do enjoy your establishment and everything you guys do :) 

    I'm going to take a rare opportunity to duck out of the office early today, so everyone please have a fun and safe weekend!

  • I obviously see things differently, but then again, the purpose of this blog post is to show us why a third party should take care of social media management for most businesses. Chris, who wrote the blog, obviously has experience on that end of the market. For that purpose, he makes excellent points.

    If I were to write the blog, it would be more about how to hire, find, and cultivate talent within your own restaurant to handle your social media and marketing campaigns. Then again, I come from a different background.

    I do not think a large scale marketing program is something a manager or owner should try to tackle on their own. My husband and I met at our restaurant. He is the GM and he has managers. They all have their job duties, which keep them very busy.

    Prior to abut three years ago, managers were also expected to help out with advertising, social media, and PR. I was a manager at the time and can tell you...that was a disaster! 4-5 different voices, spell check issues, lack of creativity due to time constraints, etc.

    Once a restaurant gets bigger than its means, consulting with a media management group is a smart move. I do, however, still stick to my original points, and think that for most smaller establishments, there is at least one person on staff who can come in part time and manage the marketing/advertising/pr. Just in Mountain View, CA, where I work, the most successful restaurants implement this idea. It works really well, for these two reasons: it is budget friendly and your staff are your biggest cheer leaders...

    That is all. For now. :)

    Great discussion, by the way!

    Read more:

  • I guess I misunderstood you. I was under the impression you were more interested in our processes and our tools, more than just what the sites look like.  Here is  one of our clients that you can check out:

    This is a fast food, sports bar type establishment. It's probably the best one to show you, simply in the sense that they are always packed, with a line out the door and have zero time to devote to any marketing and/or social media efforts.  We work with their management to develop a game plan, set a tone, and then develop, schedule and post all their content, reply to fan and customer responses, monitor their Yelp!, etc.  We also run their loyalty program (which can be signed up for, via an app on the fan page). In this particular client's case, we also schedule special promotions and events for them. The most recent, which can be seen on their fanpage, is a FIFA 2012 tournament.

    In any event, you're more than welcome to check it out, when time permits.

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