Restaurants can no longer choose to use "planned or scripted" messages such as "We're the place to be", or "The ONLY place to watch sports". They also cannot choose to simply ignore social media all together. Socially engaged diners want you to effectively demonstrate to them what your restaurant is all about, while interacting with them across social media.
What does your message really say? Is it consistent, compelling and confident? To market effectively in the social realm, you have to have to have a consistent brand voice. Here are five ways to share your message comfortably and confidently:
1) Determine Your Brand Personality
Virtually every restaurant we have worked with has grown their business, one diner at a time, over a period of time. Over this time, they have gained a reputation for how their cuisine, the service they give and what a diner can expect by dining with them.
Identifying your distinctive traits and the reasons diners choose to dine with you is key to determining your brand voice. Are you a local family eatery? Are you a classy, upscale restaurant experience? Are you a fun, sports themed atmosphere?
Defining your restaurant's character in this exercise will help you speak with greater conviction.
#2 Identify Your True Audience
One of the problems with social media is that there are SO MANY people interacting with each other, if you don't identify your audience, your message risks falling on deaf ears, and your social media efforts will fail.
Make sure you know your audience. For example, do you primarily rely on sporting events and sports programming in your restaurant? Or do you frequently have chef's tastings and wine events?
Pinpointing your audience will help you pick the right channels to speak to your perspective diners. The sports bar type restaurant for instance might use Facebook's demographic tools to advertise and interact with sports fan, within a certain geography from their restaurant, while the wine event restaurant may focus their time on a social media site dedicated to wine lovers.
Pinpointing your diners makes the difference between success and failure in your social media efforts.
3) Develop A Consistent Tone
With any brand or marketing channel, consistency is king. You MUST be sure to convey a familiar tone when you communicate across your social media channels. There is no right or wrong way to speak. Just be yourself and be congruent.
It would seem strange if you spoke very authoritatively on your restaurant's website, then posted Anne Frank quotes on your Twitter page and uploaded CollegeHumor.com video clips on your YouTube channel. This "multiple personality" style of brand management WILL NOT work.
If you have an assistant, or colleague in your restaurant that is helping you manage your social media, make sure you both have a firm understanding of your brand personality and write from that point of view.
#4 Timing Is Everything
Knowing when to speak is crucial to yourself being seen as "an influencer" in your restaurant's niche marketplace. Commenting on things too soon, or waiting too long can make you seem out of touch with social media.
There are many tools that can help you with this. Setting Google Alerts on key subjects that are important to your niche marketplace can help you remain informed and on top of issues. There are also social media management tools, such as our Social Status5 brand management/social media console, that can help you with this as well.
No matter what you choose to monitor things, having this material on hand, in a timely fashion will allow you to participate regularly with fans and perspective diners in your market area, without seeming like you are under, or over communicating.
Timely and regular contributions to your social media channels demonstrate that you are actually "in business" and "connected". If your last blog post or social media update was six months ago, that speaks volumes to potential diners.
#5 Practice Makes Perfect
Nothing builds confidence faster and better than practice. The fortunate thing for you is that the internet provides many opportunities to fine tune and perfect your brand voice. Don't get overwhelmed. Start with one channel (e.g. your blog, or facebook fan page), begin building it out, showing your voice and marketplace expertise, and then move on to the next channel, expanding your brand reach.
As they say, "Rome wasn't built in a day", and neither will your brand reach. Knowing your brand personality and audience though, and speaking consistently, at the right times, while constantly honing your message will improve your brand voice and strengthen your identity. By following these five simple guidelines, you'll feel more at ease, speaking more congruently to your fans and diners, in "their language", that they can understand.