The unstoppable growth of Social Media is sometimes hard to comprehend, and no more so than in the restaurant online space. Good or bad, diners are increasingly turning to social media to express their views on their latest dining experience. Be it restaurant directory sites like Yelp, business listings like Google Places, or sharing on Twitter and Facebook, more and more people are reading about your business this way whether you like it or not.
Many of you will already have a Facebook page for your restaurant and some of you will have taken the plunge into Twitter as well. The question is, how do you best integrate this with your online business (website) to ensure your messages and those of your happy customers reach as many potential customers as possible?
Well, the simple answer is – take it in stages. The last thing you want to do is get overwhelmed. After all, you already have a thousand things to look after in your busy restaurant – right?
The first step is perhaps your most critical – get a fabulous website designed by someone who has had experience at designing restaurant websites and understands online marketing. Why, because your website is the most important piece of marketing you will ever do in this day and age. Think about it – everything, and by this I mean every other piece of marketing both online and offline, should be directing potential clients to your website. And if that website doesn’t convert visitors into customers, or gives people the wrong impression about your restaurant or worse still, looks and feels unprofessional and is missing vital information, you are effectively loosing potential customers to your competition before you even get to meet them.
So, let’s say you’re going to take my advice and get yourself a great website. Here is my simple checklist of what I consider essential social media integration techniques that should be incorporated into your restaurant website:
- Include ‘Like’ buttons on every page – The Like button allows a user to share your business information with their friends, like your website, menu, location, trading hours, and more. It’s the 21st century version of word of mouth. Visitors also have the opportunity to express their views at the same time by making a ‘Comment’.
- Include a ‘Follow Us’ button in your sidebar or header – similar to the Like Button, adding a Follow Us Button to your website allows visitors to Follow your Facebook page, or Twitter account, or other social media site. This means, every time you post something to your social media accounts, it will appear in your followers accounts as well, so all their friends can see the post as well. This alone is an incredibly powerful tool.
- Add your best reviews and testimonials to your website. This provides social proof to visitors and builds trust. Isn’t that the crux of marketing anyway – building trust? If someone trusts you, then you have a chance of them visiting your restaurant, but it they don’t, they’ll never be your customer.
Taking it to the next level
To Blog or not to Blog. Adding a blog to your site has more benefits than you might think. Not only does it serve to engage your website visitors and give them more opportunities to social share your content, but it also builds your website profile in search engines. Write about the history of your restaurant, its dishes, offer recipes, and blog about upcoming events. Get creative about the things you can write about.
Social media integration into restaurant website design is now a critical part of your online marketing strategy. Ensure you have all the bases covered and can easily add more integration as you move into the future. The one constant about social media is that is it, and always will be, ever-changing.