6 Ways to Increase Restaurant Reservations Using Social Media
Running a successful restaurant business is no easy task. Continuously attracting more diners and increasing the number of reservations takes a lot of time and effort.
With the ever-evolving digital landscape, leveraging social media is crucial for restaurants that want to stay competitive and attract more customers.
As a restaurant owner, harnessing the potential of these platforms can be a game-changer in achieving your business goals.
To help you get started, in this article, we'll delve into some ways you can boost your restaurant reservations using social media platforms effectively.
We will discuss six essential strategies to maximize your social media presence, improve engagement with your target audience, and ultimately see a significant rise in the number of guests at your establishment.
Post Enticing Photos of Your Menu Items
Captivating visuals are key to drawing the consumers’ attention, so posting enticing photos of your menu items can whet your potential customers' appetites, urging them to visit your restaurant.
In today's digital age, social media has become where consumers discover new restaurants and explore mouthwatering menu items. Research confirms this.
Illustration: Tablein / Data: Gitnux
As people increasingly rely on social media platforms for recommendations and inspiration, restaurant owners need to view them as an opportunity to showcase their culinary creations in the best possible light.
And what better way to attract diners than with a good food photo?
Good food photography can attract customers by giving potential patrons an idea of what to expect if they book a table at your establishment and thus creating excitement and anticipation around menu items.
For tips on how to create the best possible photos, you can read this blog article on Good Food Studioza, where chef and food stylist Lerato Mokonyane shares advice for restaurants needing help to make their food look appealing in photographs.
She showcases six different food photography styles, including:
- Flat-lay: the items are arranged on a flat surface, and the photo is taken from above
- Lifestyle: the food is photographed in a realistic setting, with props and other people in the shot, showing the consumer what the dish would look like on their table
- Studio: the food really pops if it is photographed against a uniform studio background, in a controlled setting
- Action: for a more dynamic approach, the food is photographed while being prepared or plated
- Minimalist: with this style, the focus is exclusively on the food, with minimal use of props or other distractions
- Combination: as the name says, this style combines the elements of multiple styles for a unique effect
An excellent example of a restaurant that has mastered the art of food photography on social media is The Meatball Shop, a meatball-focused eatery from New York.
Their Instagram, @meatballers, features stunning images of their dishes and menu items, captivating diners with their delectable presentations and food combinations.
The Meatball Shop’s Instagram profile uses a combination of multiple food photography styles but often goes for a lifestyle or minimalist look.
Follow their example to show off your delicious dishes with high-quality photos, and watch as customers flock to your restaurant to get a taste.
Take Advantage of Short-Form Video Content
Following trends and using popular content formats is critical to staying relevant on social media.
In recent years, video content has seen a surge in popularity, becoming an essential part of digital marketing strategies for many different businesses, and restaurants are no exception.
Illustration: Tablein / Data: Gitnux
In fact, research shows that TikTok, a platform that has gained enormous popularity for its short-form videos, sees the most engagement out of all forms of social media.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to embrace the power of short-form video content to provide an intriguing glimpse of what your restaurant has to offer.
TikTok’s algorithm allows for increased visibility and engagement, so it’s great for reaching new customers and building brand awareness—and it’s especially valuable for restaurants.
This app’s influence is so significant that, according to an MGH survey, it can even attract diners to restaurants in different states.
To harness the potential of TikTok, consider creating short videos showcasing various aspects of your restaurant.
Some ideas for engaging TikTok content include:
- Offering a behind-the-scenes look at your restaurant operations
- Presenting a signature dish or recipe
- Highlighting special events or promotions
- Introducing your staff and sharing their stories
Many restaurants have found success in creating fun and creative videos showcasing their menu items or behind-the-scenes footage of their kitchen.
The US-based chain of fast casual restaurants Sweetgreen is a great example of how to use TikTok to your advantage.
This popular chain often shares recipes and cooking tips with its followers, giving them a glimpse into what goes on in the kitchen and inspiring them to try the dishes themselves.
They even use their videos as an opportunity to engage with their almost 150 thousand followers, as they did in the post shown above—providing the recipe for a tasty salad dressing to a curious follower.
As you can see, utilizing short-form videos will entertain your audience and foster a connection, inspiring them to experience your restaurant first-hand.
Promote Special Offers and Events
As with any business, getting the word out about special offers and events is crucial, and social media is the perfect channel to create buzz and excitement around your restaurant's promotions.
Social media promotions have become a highly effective strategy for increasing the number of reservations at your restaurant.
By sharing special offers through your social channels, you can create a sense of excitement, and even a fear of missing out, with special deals that encourage followers to visit your restaurant before the offer ends.
There are numerous ways to promote your restaurant on social media to drive reservations. Some ideas to consider include the following:
- Limited-time offers or discounts on menu items
- Themed events or holiday specials
- Exclusive promotions for social media followers
- Social media contests or giveaways
However, don’t just use these promotion ideas just because they seem adequate. As with any marketing strategy, preparing before launching any promotion is essential.
Illustration: Tablein / Data: Toast
Taking the steps listed above gives you a better understanding of who your target audience is and what they value, while also shedding light on any obstacles your business is facing, such as slow days or low foot traffic.
These insights enable you to design promotions that speak to your audience and directly address any issues you may be struggling with.
On the revenue side, you will also need to decide whether the purpose of your promotion is to generate publicity or to increase your sales.
While the former leads to the latter, the primary focus will affect your strategy.
By carefully considering these factors, you can hopefully create a profitable and unique marketing campaign for social media channels.
For instance, Hell Pizza from New Zealand introduced one such campaign, called Pizza Roulette, in 2012, and shared it on their Facebook page.
This unique offer involved adding an extra-spicy topping to one random slice of pizza, turning the dining experience into a daring game for customers.
The promotion generated significant attention on social media and attracted new patrons eager to take on the challenge, leading to a 17% increase in new customers in a single day.
So, tailor your promotions to your audience and create engaging offers that appeal to new customers.
Post Consistently to Remain Top of Mind
To effectively use social media, you ought to follow some of the evergreen best practices, and consistency with your posts is definitely a key one.
Posting consistently and at the right times allows restaurants to remain top of mind with their customers, increasing the likelihood that they will think of the restaurant when planning their meals.
To help you understand the optimal posting frequency, you can use the following graphic, which outlines the standard posting frequency for top social media channels.
Adhering to these guidelines can maximize your restaurant's visibility on social media and make these platforms’ algorithms work for you.
Just take this information with a grain of salt—your specific audience may enjoy different posting frequencies, and algorithms can change.
When in doubt, prioritize content quality, even if it means posting a little less frequently, and research your audience.
When it comes to ensuring a consistent posting schedule, it's a good idea to use tools that help you plan and manage your content, such as social media calendars.
Using a simple calendar like the one shown above, you can schedule posts for multiple platforms in advance, ensuring you maintain a steady flow of content on your restaurant's social media channels.
Also, one way to keep your content fresh and relevant is to follow a content calendar that includes holidays and important dates relevant to the restaurant industry, so you can tailor your posts to the specific day.
For example, August 5th is International Beer Day.
In addition to, for instance, posting interesting trivia about the history of beer-making or conducting Twitter polls about your customers’ favorite beer brands, you can celebrate this day by showcasing the unique beers offered by your restaurant or setting up a promotion where you offer a free beer with one of your dishes.
A consistent social media presence reinforces your brand, cultivates loyalty, and ultimately drives more people to your business.
Engage With Your Social Media Followers
To make your restaurant more appealing and create a loyal customer base, it is important to foster a more genuine, personalized connection with your online community.
The reasons for engaging with followers are manifold, and we have illustrated some below.
Illustration: Tablein / Data: Reachfirst
When you regularly interact with your audience, you become more visible on the platform, increase the number of people you can reach and make yourself seem more trustworthy.
For one, it’s because followers feel like they are following a real person who cares and values their opinions, instead of a machine.
Engagement is great for your search engine optimization as well, as search engines love to rank brands higher in search results if their social media posts get a lot of likes and comments.
Finally, active engagement is also an effective way to get valuable customer feedback, giving you insights into their preferences and pointing out any areas for improvement.
The following image shows a great way to use Instagram polls for this purpose.
Besides polls, you can use many other feedback-gathering techniques for Instagram, like:
- Emoji sliders
- Question stickers
- Quiz stickers
- Clickable links to a feedback survey
Many of these methods can motivate followers to send you a direct message, and when they do, make sure to reply, as it's crucial to keep the lines of communication open.
If you receive a high volume of messages, you can initially use quick replies to acknowledge their message.
Just make sure you reply with personalized responses eventually, as it demonstrates your dedication to connecting with your audience and addressing their comments and concerns genuinely.
So, take advantage of the opportunity to make your followers feel heard and appreciated, as it can significantly impact your restaurant's online presence and reputation.
Add Booking Widgets to Your Social Media
After getting people interested in your restaurant using our previous tips, you need to allow potential customers to effortlessly reserve a table by adding booking widgets to your social media profiles.
Incorporating booking widgets into your social media profiles streamlines the reservation process for your customers, making it easier for them to book a table at your restaurant from the comfort of their own home.
Say a potential diner looks at one of your social media profiles and sees one of your food photos that makes them want to visit your restaurant and try the dish out.
Of course, they can simply look for your contact information and call your restaurant to make a reservation.
But there’s just one problem—it’s close to midnight, and your restaurant is closed.
Without a quick way to book a table, this guest can get discouraged or simply forget to call by the time you are open.
To prevent these situations, you can use a software solution like Tablein.
Tablein is an online table reservation software for restaurants that allows customers to efficiently reserve a table 24/7, even when your restaurant is closed.
Moreover, Tablein’s widget can easily be added to some of the most popular social media platforms, like Instagram, Google Business, and Facebook.
As you can see in the above image, you can easily add your unique Tablein widget link to a button on your Facebook page.
Clicking on this link will take potential guests directly to the Tablein interface, and from there, booking a table will be just a few clicks away.
No matter what device or operating system is used, Tablein will seamlessly adapt and provide a smooth user experience.
This is particularly important considering that the vast majority of users access social media on their mobile devices.
By incorporating Tablein and its booking widget into your social media presence, you can further enhance the convenience for potential diners and maximize the potential of your online presence to drive more reservations.
We hope you've found the tips we covered in this article valuable and given you a solid foundation for building your restaurant's online presence.
Staying competitive in the restaurant industry requires using every resource at your disposal, and social media is one of the most effective tools out there.
We firmly believe that, by implementing the strategies we’ve covered here, you will effectively engage with potential customers, showcase your unique offerings, and attract them to your restaurant.
So, take the time to refine your social media strategy, put these techniques into practice, and watch as your restaurant's reservation numbers continue to grow.
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