Media Strategy, Insight & Resources

Local Restaurants, It’s Time to Dive in the Digital Ocean

January 29, 2019

I’m sure by now you’ve already scrolled through hundreds of pictures and videos of food and restaurants in your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube feeds. But you may not have noticed that these same images and videos are literally changing the restaurant business as we know it.

On Instagram alone, there are over 317 million posts tagged #food, and according to Empathica research, nearly three out of four customers (72%) have used Facebook to make restaurant decisions based on comments and images that have been shared by other users. Traditional advertising strategies of in-your-face promotion have been quickly replaced by technology-driven decision making. Now more than ever, consumers are dictating how successful restaurants will be based on their highly-visible and shared experiences.  

If you are a restaurant owner or marketer and you are not heavily invested in digital marketing and advertising in 2019, it’s time to dive in.

Restaurant Social Media Trends

Instagram says that “by 2021, mobile video will account for 78 percent of total mobile data traffic.” That’s not a huge surprise when you see the countless numbers of users and activity behind IGTV, Facebook Live and YouTube.

According to Restaurant Business and Technomic, two of the most authoritative brands in food service insights and data, the restaurant goers of today are highly interested in restaurants that provide transparency. What better way to provide transparency than a live video on very public social media platforms? A well-timed video of the crafting of a cappuccino in the morning, an interview with the farmers who you source your ingredients from, or a live Q&A with your executive chef are the things that fill dining rooms and reservation wait lists in 2019.

Social Media Advertising for Restaurants

Creating great stories and video is only the first step to getting people to your restaurant. Even if you have a significant following or audience on your social media channels, chances are likely that very few will see your content unless you promote it using social media advertising.

In 2018, the Head of News Feed at Facebook said that the social media giant was making a shift away from showing “media in isolation” and “more about connecting with people.” This means that your business’ marketing content will take a lower priority unless you boost it with advertising dollars. It also means that you should pay close attention to your audience online. (read more on Facebook’s 2018 News Feed Changes)

Understanding when your customers are online, where they are coming from, and what they are looking for can help you craft a really smart social media advertising strategy that delivers a strong return on investment. It would be a good idea to make sure your business hours, location, contact info and menus are all up to date on your website and social media pages so that once a visitor clicks through your ad, they can find everything they need to take that next step. Multi-location restaurants could benefit from these tips as well.

Technologies Influencing Restaurant Marketing

Toast POS surveyed over 2,000 restaurant patrons and their top tech demand was free wi-fi. While social media gets most of the attention for restaurant promotion, there is great benefit in collecting email addresses in exchange for free wi-fi. Emails can bring about higher conversion rates on promotions, and those subscribers are not at risk to the changing social media algorithms. Additionally, free wi-fi encourages more people to use apps on their phones, allowing for restaurants to deploy geofencing strategies – targeting ads based on where the person is located. Apps like Yelp have geofencing options built in. 

Capturing Restaurant Customer Data

Outside of wi-fi, many restaurants are integrating “frictionless” order and payment processes that allow capture of important data useful for marketing. Consumers are generally at peace with trading some of their information for an easier experience. Technologies such as mobile POS in-restaurant and voice ordering via Google Home or Alexa have taken the hassle out of the in-and-out restaurant experience, while providing the restaurant important information on their customers. This allows the restaurant to adapt everything to their customer’s behavior in order to be more profitable.

Food Delivery Drives Restaurant Customer Retention

The investment firm of Piper Jaffray says that $200 billion — one-quarter of all restaurant industry sales — will shift to digital ordering and delivery over the next five years. With all off-premise restaurant business now accounting for $198.7 billion, 3rd party delivery services and apps are excellent opportunities for marketers to extend their reach to acquire and retain customers. Restaurant Business research found that the five largest food delivery services retained a third or more of their customers for one year.


Looking for a Life Raft in the Digital Ocean?

Social media advertising, new technology, and change in customer behavior can be difficult for a restaurant owner to keep up with. Hiring an advertising firm like Morgan & Co. who specialize in restaurant marketing can help you attract and retain customers while you focus on your business.

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Want to learn more about how digital advertising can help your business?

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