Last year, the MMS Catering Institute™ hosted a webinar called “Catering to Social Media“ featuring Dan Kim, Founder of Red Mango, which provided great tips and tricks for making the most of social media to promote a restaurant catering program.
Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, seem to be the most popular platforms for promoting a brand, and give operators the opportunity to build meaningful content for their customers outside of their 4-Walls. The challenge that many often find is doing so in a way that doesn’t cost much, if anything at all.
Although many view social media as free, there are costs associated with the activity. If you work with social media yourself, the cost is your time; if you use an outside marketing agency, there is a significant financial cost. And as a multi-unit restaurant operator you might find that you are overwhelmed with the need to have individual social media accounts for each of your locations, rather than a centralized item for your brand as a whole.
So, how can you win at social media for your restaurant catering program without spending a fortune in time or money? Leverage existing assets!
What do I mean? Here are a few suggestions:
- If your brand has a corporate head office that has a social media presence, use their content in your own Facebook and Twitter posts – adjust the message so it’s specific to your location(s) or your catering program
- Use your employees for content – get them to take pictures of customers picking up their catering orders, delivery drivers dropping off orders with happy clients, the back-of-house process as an order is being made, and encourage them to share those pictures on your location’s Facebook page
- Keep your social media presence to a minimum – Facebook and Twitter usually provide more than enough presence when used in tandem, but you might even want to utilize review sites such as Yelp to provide an added customer viewpoint. Remember, you don’t have to be on every social media platform to see success
- If you are already using a marketing agency to help you with your social media activities, work with them to set a budget or cap to work towards – depending on what you pay for, a marketing agency can provide regular updates on activity that helps you to stay on budget and keep costs low
- Utilize websites and applications that allow you to create offers or coupons to your audience – even if there is a minimal cost to you to allow the downloads, it’s worth it if customers are coming to you to spend their money, especially on catering orders which are always larger than regular in-store orders
- Create store-specific hasthtags and encourage customers to use them while talking about your location – this works for Twitter and Facebook!
- Connect with your potential catering customers through social – if you’re looking to increase your catering business, find companies in the local area on Facebook, and “Like” their pages. Although I don’t encourage flooding their social networks with offers, you can often direct applicable messages to them, and if they “Like” you back, your updates will show regularly on their feed and create top-of-mind awareness for when they need catering
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list – everyone has their own way of efficiently using social media to promote their brand. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below – you might inspire someone today!
Check out some of these brands that are Rocking Social Media (Restaurant Business Magazine – Jan 2014).