Managing a restaurant is a busy and complex job making it difficult to find time to manage your social media marketing. However, connecting to a social audience is paramount to the success of restaurants and social media has become an essential tool for restaurant marketing.

In this post, we’ll look at 5 ways to incorporate social media for restaurant marketing into the easiest part of your day.

  • Get comfortable with social media scheduling
  • Set up quick replies and Messenger templates
  • Use different notification types to triage customer contacts
  • Anticipate customer queries
  • Expand your search marketing program with customer reviews

1. Get comfortable with social media scheduling

Lots of restaurant managers and small business owners feel overwhelmed by social media. Why? Because they think they have to be online all the time, scrolling through Instagram photos and thinking up Tweets constantly.

But there is another way. Social media scheduling means that you can create posts in advance, then send them automatically.

There are plenty of free tools available, such as Tweetdeck for Twitter or Creator Studio for Facebook and Instagram. Paid scheduling tools cover more support and features, so it’s worth checking out a few options if there’s room in your marketing budget.

Try to set aside a couple of hours each week to schedule all your posts for the days ahead. This also helps to make sure that you’re posting a balance of different kinds of content: when you look at your social media calendar, you’ll be able to see clear patterns in what you post.

Of course, not all posts can be scheduled (for example, you can’t schedule Stories in Creator Studio). You can mix scheduled posts with occasional on-the-spot videos and photos – but now it’s on your schedule.

2. Set up quick replies and Messenger templates

Social media is great for pushing your message out to a big audience. At the same time, it enables people to contact you one-on-one. Those customer contacts are an amazing opportunity for restaurant marketing… but they can also be time-consuming.

You can instantly save time on social media by setting up automatic messages. Here’s what’s available on different social networks:

  • Twitter. You can automatically send a welcome message when someone new follows you. Say hi, remind them of your opening hours, and maybe offer an introductory discount. You can also set up Quick Replies: canned responses to common questions.
  • Facebook. Facebook Messenger is the new frontier for marketers. Set up welcome messages and saved replies (which are the same thing as quick replies) – plus automatic acknowledgements when someone messages you, away messages, calls to action, and even templates for restaurant bookings and email electronic subscriptions.
  • Instagram. Instagram doesn’t offer quite so many messaging options, although you can use Quick Replies. And you can share active links in Instagram DMs, directing customers towards your website.

3. Use different notification types to triage customer contacts

Dedicate some time to combing through your notification settings on each social network. For most social media, you can choose which notifications you get, and how: from push notifications that show up on your mobile to SMS or email alerts.

Here’s an example of how to start set up your Twitter notifications.

Set up notifications so that you can instantly triage customer messages. For example, if someone sends you a direct message, that might trigger an SMS alert. But a simple Like or Retweet would only need a push notifications. You’ll instantly know which notifications are urgent and which can wait.

4. Anticipate customer queries

We’ve already mentioned quick replies: saved messages which you can send in answer to common questions. But you can also save time by anticipating these questions, and making the information available for customers online.

Make sure that your social media profiles, Google My Business page, and listings on review sites are fully up-to-date. Think about which questions people regularly ask – for example, you could share:

  • Location
  • Opening hours
  • Allergies you cater for
  • Menu
  • Facilities for families and disabled customers

5. Expand your search marketing program with customer reviews

Everyone knows that reviews can make or break a restaurant and managing your reviews is an essential part of restaurant marketing. What may not be aware of is that reviews may also affect your search engine ranking as well as your online reputation.

Schedule some time every week to manage reviews. It can be as little as thirty minutes, once a week. Check in, respond to customer comments, and make sure your profile is up to date.