As more and more businesses of all types are immersing themselves in social media, it’s important to get in as early as you can and build up your following. Having a page on various social media platforms is key, but I suggest starting with Twitter. Twitter followers are engaging, and they spread the word fast. I’ll walk you through some basic ways to get your Twitter following up and running.
If your customers have something good to say about your restaurant, thank them! Be engaging and ask them what their favorite menu item was, then suggest something else similar that they may like. This could turn them into repeat customers. If they have something really good to say, offer them a discount the next time they visit if they mention their tweet.
Since restaurant patrons are probably the hardest people to keep happy, you’re going to have some negative feedback. Turn these people into
lovers instead of haters and find out why they had a bad experience, then do whatever you can to make it better. Some people don’t understand that you have to wait for a table and will complain, offer them a reservation next time they want to visit you, or a discount off their next meal. Remember Twitter “replies” are public, so make sure that when you respond, you provide excellent customer service and aren’t defensive. If you feel uncomfortable with responding publicly, you can follow that person and then you are able to “direct message” them. This is private, but it is better to have a longer conversation on the phone or by email.
To gain followers, run searches through Twitter, or a Twitter search engine like Followerwonk.com, and search for people in your city. Let them know that you’re new to Twitter, and offer them a small discount if they’ve never dined with you before. Follow prominent people in your city, like radio DJ’s, TV personalities, or other recognizable spokespersons.
Food is one subject that people love to tweet about, and you better believe they’re going to be tweeting about your restaurant. Monitor your tweets and mentions with programs like Hootsuite, CoTweet, or TweetDeck, and reply to every single one!
If you use multiple forms of social media, then consider using one of these programs. Hootsuite is my preference, and it allows you to view your Twitter and Facebook accounts from the same page. This cuts down on time significantly, and all your social media information is displayed in one area. You can tweet directly from the programs, see any mentions, and respond to messages. These programs also allow you to schedule tweets. This comes in very handy in time management, because you can sit down and plan out tweets for a whole week at once. Mention your daily specials, and have them go out on certain times that day.
One way to stay on top of your mentions is to get your tweets sent to your phone via text message. Through the Twitter website, you can have any mentions, direct messages, retweets, and more sent straight to your phone, and you have the option to reply right away. This is great for staying current, and addressing any issues you may have right away.
I’ve worked in a restaurant, so I know firsthand how much time it takes up to keep the restaurant functioning. Taking the time for Twitter can seem
hard, and there just aren’t enough minutes in the day. Make a set time each day for Twitter and work it into your routine. Take advantages of the breaks between breakfast, lunch, and dinner rushes. You can take as little as five minutes a few times a day to check up on your Twitter followers and address any mentions. If you don’t have the internet in your restaurant, there are several great mobile Twitter apps for all types of phones that make keeping up with your mentions easy.
For my past birthday, I visited Café Patachou with some friends for brunch. It was my first time, and I loved it so much I tweeted it not once, but a few times. I took a picture of my delicious meal, and then afterwards mentioned that I was hooked. To my surprise, I got a tweet the next day from Café Patachou thanking me for visiting them on my special day, and that they loved having me. What a pleasant surprise!
The best Twitter story has to go to Morton’s Steakhouse. Peter Shankman jokingly tweeted before his plane took off:
When he arrived at his destination, he was greeted by a man in a tuxedo with a bag from Morton’s Steakhouse, with the steak that he asked for. Not only did Morton’s bring the steak, they found out which flight Shankman was on, found his gate, and greeted him with the porterhouse.
About the Author:
Maggie Thistleton is a social media marketer for Affordable Style and former front-of-house manager. When she’s not tweeting, facebooking, or checking-in for her company, she enjoys experimenting with new recipes, running, and obsessing over Top Chef: Just Desserts.