Over the last few years, social media has become one of the most important marketing tools for restaurants. Last year, a reported 90 percent of all restaurants in the United States used social media to reach new customers and increase customer loyalty.
If you are currently using social media as part of your restaurant marketing strategy, or if you are interested in deploying social media marketing for your restaurant, there are a few changes to social media networks Yelp and Facebook you should know about. We’ve broken these changes down by social network so you can see how leveraging each channel can boost your business.
Yelp! is an online review platform where customers can leave both positive and negative reviews about all types of businesses. While Yelp’s collection of reviews can benefit a restaurant, it can also create problems for restaurants as many people use Yelp to complain, but don’t turn to Yelp to leave a review when they have a positive experience.
Yelp has added a video feature allowing patrons to leave video reviews of restaurants. The feature can benefit restaurants that take pride in their ambiance and atmosphere, as a video can show far more than a photo ever could. On the other hand, the feature also allows hotheaded patrons to vocalize their disappointment when the food or service is not just right.
There is no way for a business owner to moderate which reviews show up on Yelp, but it’s important that you take the time to respond to reviews and encourage happy patrons to also leave reviews on Yelp. The new video feature is expected to roll out to Elite Yelp users this month.
In addition to the new video feature, Yelp has also added a free online reservation system, in direct competition to OpenTable and other online reservation systems. Last year, Yelp acquired the online reservation service SeatMe, which is only $99 per month compared to OpenTable’s $199 (plus a $650 sign-up fee).
Patrons looking to try a new restaurant will likely check out a particular restaurant’s menu online prior to making a reservation. Although many restaurants have their menus available online, Facebook makes ordering even easier by allowing restaurants to post menus directly to their Facebook Page.
The feature, which is currently only available in the U.S. and Canada, uses Constant Contact’s online listing service, SinglePlatform. Unfortunately, this feature is only available to users of SinglePlatform, a service that costs $79 per month. If you don’t use SinglePlatform or you live outside the U.S. or Canada, you can post a PDF of your menu directly to your Facebook Page instead. When on your Page, go to Settings > Page Info > Menus.
If you are using Yelp, Facebook, or any other social network, such as Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest to market your restaurant, it’s important that you keep yourself apprised of the ever-changing social media landscape. To reduce marketing costs, take advantage of the free options to get more people in your door.