Many restaurants and bars are now taking advantage of free advertising and are joining the growing online phenomenon that is social networking.
Take Facebook; this is no longer a place for teenagers to chat with their mates and take part in quizzes and games. In fact the largest growing group is now the over 45’s of the 350 million users who log on there each month. Facebook grew over 170% between Augusts 2008-09. Savvy businesses have now joined these potential customers on Facebook business to set up what amounts to free marketing for their services or products.
McDonald’s official Facebook page has a fan base of over 1.5 million customers of their burgers, for them to target. Whereas Burger King, on the other hand has over 100 unofficial pages but no official page, which leaves them with many thousands of missed marketing opportunities.
Setting up a Facebook page takes very little time, the key is to keep the page updated to encourage your members to come back. Just as the goal of any restaurant is to get people coming back, and recommending it to their friends. It is quite likely that a good percentage of a restaurant’s existing customers are already on Facebook and Facebook will automatically check this when the restaurants email contacts are imported. Then it is simply a matter of inviting them to become members of the pages. One noteworthy point is that Facebook has lists of all of themembers’ birthdays, a simple message sent out a week before the date offering a free bottle of bubbly for parties booked could up a restaurant’s takings considerably.
Cards could be given out to customers asking them to add the restaurant to their Facebook accounts whereby all of the pages Facebook members could be exclusively entered into a monthly draw. The pages can include phone number, address with a map positioning the location and parking facilities. The restaurant’s culinary team can be named and special services that are offered such as outdoor eating area or kids menus. There is even an ‘Opentable’ dining reservation application for members. The pages can be updated when new menus are produced or a special offer is running, or for specific dates such as a planned romantic Valentine’s evening. The pages can be adorned with photos of appetizing food from the menu or a video of how a dish is prepared. If the restaurant has its own website, a link can be added to take the potential customer to the menu, or if not a PDF file can be linked to.
The restaurant’s Facebook page can provide valuable information and feedback from customers/members all of which can be responded to on the site. Then it’s time to move on to the restaurant’s next social networking site, Twitter anyone?
Photos courtesy of flickr - AJC1, daveynin, libraryman, dreamspower