One way to understand what articles are valuable content for restaurant blogs is to look at one of the biggest successes, if not the biggest, of the internet, Wikipedia. Wikipedia provides an amazing wealth of information. While not as rigorous as the old encyclopedia, it makes up for it with constant revision and updates. Millions, if not billions, of questions that once involved a $3000 encyclopedia or a trip to the library are solved pretty quickly on Wikipedia every month. Wikipedia, consequently, is the most visited website on the internet (at least it was a couple years ago) and no other website is even close to the authority search engines give it, guaranteeing a high ranking on thousands of searches. The point is Wikipedia provides extremely valuable content for free and is given special treatment for this service.
At its core, this is the whole point of a restaurant blog. A restaurant blog is supposed to fill in those gaps related to your restaurant that cannot be found on the internet even though people are looking for it. It strengthens your customers’ relationships with your business. So what are those gaps? What should you write about for your restaurant blog?
- Information About Your Cuisine
You think about your food and drink differently than your average customer. Parts of this greater knowledge should be shared. If your restaurant is ethnic, you can tell your customers how your cuisine is served in its native country. What are the circumstance in which they eat it? Why did this food become popular there? (normally that is based on agriculture or trade). You can talk about regional differences and give them access to information that few know about in the US.
Every type of food or drink has a story. You might ask: how do you find the best ingredients? Customers do prepare food too and giving them a little inside knowledge won’t change how often they eat out. If you do something special preparation wise, this is a good place to include it. You should avoid making it promotional in nature. But telling customers why you use organic vegetables or a special olive oil can be more about advocating those kinds of ingredients. What makes a craft beer different from what happens in a Budweiser factory?
People are always looking for things to do. You can mention your own restaurant and try to put in the center of the life of the neighborhood, but it will come across as selling if you focus on your business. You obviously don’t want to mention the specific competitors (especially if you bash them), but let locals know the community better. You can create a list of things to do. Or set up a self-guided tour for a weekend. If you are a lounge, there is no harm in featuring the burger joint down the street. Customers respect businesses that acknowledge the quality in other establishments in the same area and industry. Besides, when customers want a burger, they are not normally also considering a martini.
- History and Customs
Wikipedia leaves gaps, especially information that is based on unconfirmed oral histories. You would be surprised at how
many customers look for these histories. They are unsatisfied with Wikipedia because it doesn’t provide much of a frame for information. Customers don’t only want verifiable facts. Also, a Wikipedia article does not reflect firsthand experience. It smooths out history, presenting the information without alienating all the parties involved. You don’t need to do that. You can claim that your region of Thailand is where so and so dish comes from even if others dispute this. You don’t want to seem prejudiced but you don’t have to be impartial either. Your histories can be a story. With firsthand experience you can make distinctions that outsiders miss. Most of the bread in Cairo is sold in this special market (that’s made up but you get my point).
There is always a debate. The press covers them all the time. Are wine tops better than wine corks? Is Chinese Cinnamon real cinnamon? While still being fair, you can take a side. This may get some comments and settle peoples’ opinion on an issue. If you are clear, giving a position will help. It will get comments and maybe even cause a little stir. You shouldn’t write something that makes any enemies but gaining a higher profile comes from taking small calculated risks.
- Tell Your Story
If you can tell your story without selling, you should include this. Independent restaurants have adopted the policy of corporations in not putting a face behind the business (or putting a celebrity endorser). I don’t know the CEO of Coca Cola even though I drink it. This is a mistake for small businesses. Customers have always connected an independent restaurant with the owner, giving them a mythic status in our culture. Remember you provide food and drink, one of the most basic human needs. Tell your story. Why are you passionate about your restaurant? What inspired you?
Being Fun, Interesting and Accurate
We covered what to write about. The ‘how’ is a little more related to the restaurant’s concept and brand. The one thing I’d suggest is to be fun. For some restaurants, that may mean humor. On the other, that is confidence. If you need a little help, look around the internet. You can find some good sources for information and also ideas for specific articles. Take that information and give it a twist that slightly improves the internet. You should not reproduce but remake. With interesting articles and a sense of excitement, your restaurant blog can be a crucial part of your online marketing.