The Importance of Facebook for Restaurants

Nearly nine years after the founding of Facebook, the social media network has become galaxy all its own. It is both expanding and ever-present. At the very minimum, restaurants have some customers who are users, and they are spending a lot of time using it.

Like other social media, Facebook exists somewhat outside the reach of search engines and traditional webpages. This causes confusion for restaurant owners who think a website is enough. A good portion of online activities (and marketing opportunities) happens in Facebook and your website without a Facebook Page cannot give you access to people on Facebook.

Facebook is where a restaurant owner must start for social media marketing.  Facebook’s preeminence is not being challenged at this point as all other social media combine doesn’t match the traffic and membership of Facebook. Even more importantly, Facebook eats up people’s time.

And much like the web proper, business is done in social media. No doubt, there are advertisements but even more importantly, there is marketing. Businesses carve out an identity and following of customers through Social Media. As mentioned before, none is more central as Facebook. And even though, unless you were under a rock for the last few years, you know some things about Facebook. Most though are at a loss in crafting Facebook to expand their business. My focus will be on how to make Facebook work to a restaurant’s advantage. Let’s go through the basic concept, the numbers and what both mean marketing-wise.

Facebook in a Nutshell

  • Facebook is about making connections, whether that is to other people (through adding a friend), to businesses (through becoming a fan) to groups, to causes, etc. The most basic connections are the adding of a friend or becoming a fan, but easily the most powerful force on Facebook in regards to marketing is sharing content (web links, news stories, blog posts, photos). A posting by a business on their Facebook Page wall therefore appears in the news feed of all the fans of that business. NOTE: A person becomes a fan through clicking the LIKE button on the business Page. They can also undo it later (which happens frequently with businesses that post too often)
  • RESTAURANT ANGLE: A restaurant creates a Page that on the surface functions much like a regular person’s profile. Similarly, the first objective of any business is to attract fans. To accumulate a fan base is where a social media marketing strategy comes in handy.
  • The second concern a business should address is customizing the experience for fans or potential fans, a feature unavailable to profiles. Businesses can customize their Page, through landing pages and tabs, to feature promotions, news, surveys, information, etc. On a business Page, Facebook users become Fans rather than Friends. The default is that these Fans receive posts from the business in their news feed. As businesses garner a lot more traffic and responses, these posts disproportionately appear in the default Top News feed.
  • Like a search engine, Facebook prioritizes the most popular postings. So if a person enjoys or want to refer a posting, they can click a LIKE button just for that posting. This system of reference pushes your businesses posting to the top of your fan’s news feeds.

What the Numbers Mean?

  1. Profile of the Users
    The numbers are literally astronomical. Facebook has over 500 million users. That’s more than the population of the United States. According to PostRank, they aren’t on average young. The actual average age of Facebook users is 38.4 and mirrors the population in general in nearly every sphere. So although it is almost universal among the young, older generations are fast on their heels. So don’t for one second believe that the people using Facebook don’t have financial resources (in fact all social media has permeated older demographics). Therefore, nearly all businesses can profit from Facebook. One thing also to take into consideration is that more women are on Facebook and they are more active on Facebook than men. With that in mind, strategies, promotions and events that may appeal to women should be of greater importance.
  2. Facebook is a Drug
    Facebook is used with the frequency of email. PostRank reports that on average 50 % users check Facebook each day. Hours and hours and hours go into Facebook. The stats are astounding. A Facebook user on average spends 20 hours on Facebook. A month.  More importantly, 25 billion pieces of content (from PostRank) are shared each month. A lot of informational transaction is going on, and much of it is business related.

Ways to Social Media Market

Facebook is about communicating so you can get out the word on anything about your restaurant through several different methods (some are in the Marketing section after clicking EDIT PAGE) .

  1. Posting
    By posting promotions, events, links, etc., you interact with your fans. You build relationships and provide valuable information. The one thing you ought to do is be proactive with your fans and encourage them to LIKE or refer your content. That means responding to comments on your wall and keeping up to date information on your Facebook Page.
  2. Facebook Ads
    Well, Facebook ads aren’t only for people looking for a service/product. It can also be an advertisement to join a community, which may be more tolerable than being sold something. The only needed inducement may be your name flashing in a small Facebook ad on the right of their screen.
  3. Embedding Facebook in Your Website
    You can add LIKE and SHARE buttons on your website along with widgets that connect people directly to your Facebook PAGE. This right away tells them of your presence on Facebook.
  4. Facebook-Centered Promotions
    Induce customers to become Fans of your Facebook Page. Offer them something and they will spread the word (electronically that is) to their friends. You’d be surprised what a freebie can do.
  5. Send an Update
    This can be used infrequently, as it goes straight into their messages, to send a very important message to your fans. Say you are opening a new location or have moved. But be careful not to abuse this privilege as you may lose fans.