Why Social Media is Important for the Hospitality industry
According to a Cornell University study, 59 percent of chain restaurants and 79 percent of independent restaurants use social media. It’s a booming marketing tactic that over a few short years has helped restaurants gain greater brand recognition and attract new guests.
Although it’s widely used and it’s adoption rates are growing, as a restaurant with limited budgets it’s important to understand the return on investment with social media. In this post, we’re breaking down the benefits of social media and the steps you can take to make it successful in your restaurant.
Social Increases Revenue
When leveraged correctly, social media can be a great opportunity to increase sales. In fact, according to Marketing Charts, 41 percent of businesses already depend on social media to drive revenue.
One of the most effective ways social media can grow revenue is through direct messaging. Today, restaurants can reach out to customers on a range of platforms like Facebook or Twitter, making it easier to suggest a product or offer a service. Similarly, customers can reach out to restaurants if they have any questions, such as; menu options, event inquiries, hours of operation, and much more. By having additional options for communication, you broaden your audience to be more far-reaching than the town/city your restaurant is in.
In order to see optimal results from direct messaging in your restaurant, we recommend implementing technology to streamline the process for customers and team members. With the right messaging platform, when a customer makes a request, your team members can be alerted in real-time. Customers are all about immediacy, so the faster you respond the more satisfied they are – which leads to increased loyalty.
In addition, an optimal messaging platform will be able to auto-route messages to specific departments according to the nature of the customer’s request. Having that process in place makes it easier for teams to answer questions and it reduces the wait time for customers.
Another highly used tactic to increase sales via social media is leveraging “Calls To Action” (CTA’s). Using a visually appealing image and a button that allows you to message team members, you can inform the customer of promotions and encourage conversations with teams that could lead to more sales. In addition, CTA’s allow you to reach prospects that aren’t following your page or that are outside of your community – giving you further reach and more opportunity to bring customers into your restaurant.
Social Builds Brand Advocacy
Having social media profiles dedicated to your restaurant is a great way to show customers transparency and build brand advocacy. Whether you like, comment, or direct message a customer on social media it allows you to interact authentically with them both on and off the restaurant premises, so you can further nurture relationships.
The first way that social media supports brand advocacy is through one on one conversations. Getting to know the customer on a personal level, and vice-versa, makes it easier for your restaurant to better understand their needs and offer them value. For example, if Mother’s Day is coming up and a regular customer is always connecting with you on Facebook, you can send them a message on Facebook Messenger a couple weeks before to inform them of “Mother’s Day brunch specials”. This shows your customer that you care about them and the quality of their Mothers Day, while also tempting them to visit again.
As a suggestion, when having a one on one conversation you should always be inviting and friendly. It’s important to listen to what customers are saying and respond promptly. By implementing a powerful messaging platform, you should be able to listen to customer sentiment and understand how the customer is feeling, so you can address negative experiences quickly. By having their experience rated from “Dissatisfied” to “Satisfied”, you can acknowledge, respond, and recover those who are not in real-time.
Lastly, you can also build brand advocacy with social by always responding to their inquiries on a timely basis. Time to respond is everything in the restaurant world, especially when it comes to upset patrons. According to Gartner, failure to respond to a customer via social channels on a timely basis can lead to a 15% increase in the churn rate. A technology platform can help by notifying teams immediately and decreasing time to respond, further driving satisfaction and loyal customers.
Guests Prefer and Expect Social Interaction
With over 2.77 billion social media users around the globe, social media has become the preferred method of communication between consumer and brand.
For customers, social media is preferred because it’s easy to navigate and it’s immediate. For many, it’s incorporated into everyday life so it’s worry-free and isn’t a hassle to adopt. Having the ability then to connect using social media will not only satisfy the customer’s needs but help you drive loyalty for future success.
This is especially true if your restaurant is trying to target large demographic groups such as Millennials – who are social media mavens. In fact, in 2016, 5 out of 6 millennials connected with companies on social media networks. Similarly, some 88% of 18 to 29-year olds indicate that they would use any form of social media. It’s a large preference, and for a demographic group that numbers at 71 million and is expected to overtake Boomers at 73 million by 2019 – it’s important to leverage if you want more customers and an overall greater reception.
Social media platforms are becoming the new mainstream form of communication that businesses need to leverage in order to effectively communicate with customers. Housing a range of capabilities, from building brand advocates to maximizing revenue, social media should be a tactic you adopt into your restaurant.