If you have a restaurant you need a website, period. Considering it is such a small investment and so important, there is no reason to not have one and lots fo good reasons to get yourself listed.
Unfortunately, it doesn't quite end there. Now, you also need a social media presence. The good news is this is easy to set up and failry easy to manage and it also comes with a lot of benefits.
There are literally millions of people on Facebook and Twitter, the two key websites we are talking about and they are active. And they like to share. So for very little time and money you can get the word out about how great your restaurant is and the word can spread- fast.
The first thing to do is get your two pages set up- one for Facebook and one for Twitter. To do this you have a couple of options- you can do it yourself, or you can get a fancier and more attractive presence set up by paying someone to build it for you.
The bottom line is you need a social media presence because A) your competition has it and you don't want to fall behind, and B) you can do so many cool marketing things with it that cost little or nothing and yet can help tremendously in building word of mouth and buzz for your location about your food, your service and all the fun people have when they visit.
Once you have yourself set up, then you want to start building your fan base. The best time to do this is well before you start and open your doors for the first time- what better way to open than with a huge crowd waiting?
After you open, you want to invite all of your customers to "like" you on Facebook and add your Twitter feed to their account. This gives you two wasy to reach out to them that they can both respond to and share with others.
One thing restaurant owners do that I recommend using only sparingly is to broadcast discounts and special offers. Yes, this will bring people in but it also hurts your profits and trains people to NOT come in unless they have a discount in hand. That is not what you want!
Luckily, there are lots more creative ways to use it. For a regular "idea train" of good ideas check out our restaurant marketing blog posts.
Use these ideas liberally and often. You are really only limited by your creativity and the more interesting you can make it the more people will talk about it, and share it and help you build buzz for your restaurant.
You can do anything from celebrating random holidays to offering a half price appetizer or a free dessert to any table of four or more that all wear purple hats.
You could offer to have your waiters sing happy birthday to anyone who comes in and uses the "magic phrase" one day even if it isn't their birthday- call it a "pick me up" special. You could have a singles night where anyone who comes alone can get paired with another single for an evening of meeting someone new- doesn't have to be dating.
You can use your fan base to tie in with a promotion for a special cause or to find other business owners to partner with. There are literally no limits and you need spent less than 10-15 minutes a week on updates. The return can be phenomenal if you put in the time to make it happen.
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