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7 Ways to Use Social Media as the Ultimate Restaurant Promotion Strategy

In the age of digital sharing, every meal is a marketing opportunity. Consumers are posting everyday moments online more than ever, and one of the most popular social media shares is what they’re eating. Learn how to leverage the power of social media and spin it into the ultimate restaurant promotion machine.

User generated content (UGC) is unsolicited social media posts from consumers—like tweets, reviews, or photos—that mention or promote a product or company. It’s a marketing goldmine. 85% of social media users trust UGC more than they trust brand-created content.

Your restaurant guests have a lot of power in consumer behavior. Cultivate and curate this content, and turn your customers into your brand ambassadors. Think of it as organic social media marketing for restaurants.

Here are seven ways to harness the power and reach of user generated content on social media and parlay it into your best marketing strategy yet.

1. Create Branded #Hashtags

Creating a social media presence for your restaurant is more than just a page for your business. One of the first restaurant public relations ideas you should implement is a branded hashtag using your company name or a catchphrase that’s directly linked to your brand, like Dunkin’ Donuts’ #mydunkin.

Hashtags streamline user generated content, driving customers to your site and your business. According to a Zagat survey, 75% of diners who use social media choose a restaurant based on the photos that other customers post online. A hashtag builds brand visibility by linking those photos to your business.

When customers visit a MOD Pizza location, they can post photos on Instagram and tag the restaurant by adding #MODpizza. Nearly 70,000 Instagram posts have been tagged with the brand hashtag.

One way MOD Pizza generates this positive marketing is through an employee-centric culture and a digital workplace that creates great customer engagement both in person and online.

2. Geotag Your Eatery

When a customer posts a picture of the delicious burger they ate, make sure there’s an option for them to tag your restaurant. On social media, users are prompted to add a location or business to their posts. Geotagging eliminates the guesswork and directs consumers to your restaurant.

If you have a social media page, chances are your geolocation will populate automatically when users create a post. Double check this. If your business doesn’t come up as an option, create a geotag.

The more information you give a potential customer the more likely they are to pay your restaurant a visit. Every post that is not linked with your company is a missed marketing opportunity.

3. Create Wow Moments

45% of diners make meal choices based on social media. Design a “wow” moment to create some marketing buzz around your restaurant and build engagement for your brand.

Remember Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino? It was around for a short time, but it was practically designed for social media. The bright, frosty drink created a wow moment for Starbucks, with more than 156,000 UGC Instagram posts.

Wow moments can be created through releasing a new, over-the-top product, an event, or even a viral video that creates a social media frenzy and initiates a greater volume of user generated content.

4. Inspire User Generated Content with a Contest

Social media marketing for restaurants should actively encourage user generated content with creative, out-of-the-box strategies. A simple way to do that is with a contest. For a simple idea, challenge people to post a picture featuring one of your signature dishes. You can also track the success by implementing UTM parameters examples and understand which platforms are driving the most engagement. The post with the most likes wins dinner for four. As far as restaurant public relations ideas go, a contest is an easy one but will bring customers through your door.

5. Make Your Space a Social-Media Must See

Your food and restaurant are already being photographed and shared on social media. Encourage that behavior! When strategizing your restaurant promotion, think visually. Create a space that’s snap worthy. From a quirky sign to unique decor, lure people into your restaurant to be a part of the online crowd. It’s a clever way to curate the content that your customers share through presentation and design that encourages photography and online sharing.

6. Develop a Unique Online Voice To Encourage UGC

To get users to engage with your restaurant on social media, create a dynamic voice for your brand. Actively respond to customer comments on Instagram and other social platforms (even if they’re negative) and repost favorable customer comments. If there’s one company that knows how to use social media marketing for restaurants it’s Wendy’s. The burger chain actively engages with consumers online and, as a result, have 3.4 million Twitter followers.

When one Wendy’s fan tweeted, “Yo @Wendy’s how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?” Wendy’s replied, “18 million.”

Though the customer fell short, 3.5 million people shared it, becoming the second most retweeted post in the history of social media. User generated content became a massive marketing campaign for the chain.

7. Leverage Internal Communications for Brand Building

Another great strategy for restaurant promotion is through employee engagement. By connecting every employee to your company through a mobile team app, like Beekeeper, you’ll simultaneously be building your external-facing brand.

Not only are your customers posting about you, so are your employees. Half of all workers mention their employer on social media. Including them through a team app recognizes their value by giving them access to information they need to provide great customer service. That will impact how they portray your restaurant online.

When the Watergate Hotel adopted Beekeeper’s mobile team app to connect their 300 employees, they boosted employee engagement, and they hit on a great marketing strategy. When employees had direct access to internal communications and content that allowed them to provide better service, customers took notice. Positive UGC improved the Watergate’s TripAdvisor scores.

To learn how higher employee engagement can build your brand online, download our Internal Communications Strategy.