Some people would say Twitter is dead.
With 100 million daily active users, 328 million monthly active users, and 500 million tweets sent per day, I'd say those people are wrong. Twitter for restaurants is still an unmatched opportunity for guest engagement and exposure to new customers.
It’s safe to say that diners in your area are on Twitter. Is your restaurant there to meet them? Social media may seem like one more line item in a never-ending list of demands, but it’s important to remember that consumers today view social channels as a valuable means of brand communication. According to Peter Friedman, CEO of LiveWorld, “80% of consumers expect brands to be on social, and 70% base purchases on interactions on social.”
Here's how to get your restaurant started (and be successful) on Twitter.
Getting Started: Claim the Appropriate Profiles
Before you can stand out on Twitter, you’ll need to set up profiles for each of your locations. If you own a single restaurant location, you’ll need to:
- Select a Twitter username that reflects your restaurant’s name to the best of your ability, given the limited availability of common names. For example, if @RyansPizza is taken, try @RyansPizzaBoston, @RyansPizzaBOS, or @Ryans_Pizza.
- Upload a profile and background pictures of your brand or logo.
- Fill out your bio with relevant information that will help diners find you.
If you have multiple locations, you’ll need to decide whether to operate a single Twitter profile or to create different accounts for each restaurant.
When deciding between a central account or individual profiles for each location, consider:
- Whether each location’s promotions, offerings, and menu are different enough to warrant separate feeds.
- Whether or not you have the resources to manage multiple accounts.
For algorithmic reasons, most Twitter experts recommend posting multiple times each day. If you won’t be able to keep up a rigorous publishing schedule across several accounts, stick to a single profile.
Get Customers Engaged
Once your Twitter feed is live, it’s up to you to make customers aware of it. These days, the digital world is simply too noisy to expect that, “If you build it, they will come.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to get customers engaged with your Twitter profile. For example, you could:
- Add an announcement to your printed receipts, or link to your profile on your digital receipts.
- Run giveaways on your Twitter feed.
- Set out a table card announcing your new profile.
- Run live events that are built around hashtags you create for your restaurant.
The Content: Stay Away from Over-Promoting
Though the purpose of your restaurant Twitter feed is ultimately to increase your sales, nobody wants to follow a channel that’s constantly sending out sales messages.
A better way to stand out is to treat your followers like friends. Anna Mackenzie of the Go Dine Digital blog shares the example of Nandos as a brand that gets the balance right.
“On Twitter, the restaurant giant regularly posts topical videos, that has little to do with directly promoting its products and far more to do with entertaining its following. Comical tweets about how to recover from exams to dates [put] the follower at the centre of the profile and removes the sometimes awkward business/customer relationship.”
If your restaurant is more upscale dining than fast food, casual exchanges like these may be less appropriate. But you can still reach out to your followers as people - not prospects.
Think about the kind of experience you want customers at your restaurant to have. Translate that to your social channels, and you’ll get the balance right.
How to Get More Twitter Followers
“If an account tweets and no one sees it, did it ever really tweet at all?”
When you first start out with social media marketing for your restaurant it can feel as if you're shouting into the void. Building a following takes time, but you can shortcut the process by leveraging relationships you either have or can build with influencers.
Have Fun with It
Above all, remember that all work and no play never ends well. Social media can be a great opportunity to get your brand’s personality across in an informal way - as long as you’re willing to have fun with it.
Again, keep your own brand image in mind as you decide how casual is too casual. Treat social media as an opportunity to build genuine connections with your customers, and an appropriate strategy for standing out will emerge.