It’s a time to sit back and enjoy time with your family, but if you’re like me there is usually a little free time for some reading. And hopefully this will be quality reading.
The end of the year is a good time to make some plans for the following year. I’m sure you already have some great plans to improve your restaurant in 2015, but I thought we could examine some of the top trends in online marketing and how you can take advantage of them to get more business this year.
Let’s get right into it.
With firearms you have semi-automatic and full automatic. Full auto requires you to pull back on the trigger and hold it there while bullets fire out continuously. Semi-auto requires you to pull back the trigger for each bullet.
That’s a good way of thinking when it comes to semi-auto online marketing. You’re still involved with the content each time, but there are elements you can automate so it relieves some of the stress involved with maintaining a social presence.
There are programs that will fully automate how you share social media posts, but users can typically see through it. They still might follow, but you can get more out of the community if you add just a little more of a personal touch.
Here are two examples of semi-automation.
First, pay $100 or so for Buffer. This has been one of my best purchases this past year. I take one hour each week to add about 35-40 social media updates. Then the service will share them throughout the week. I set it up so that about 5-6 updates are shared each day. I’ll share articles and thoughts across just about all the social sites I’m on. It seems to save a lot of time so I can be on social media every day while only doing it one day.
Second, setup a regular email newsletter to subscribers. You can share things like blog posts, which you can fully automate. And you can add a couple paragraphs of something you’d like to say. You could add a few photos or something else to make it more engaging.
2. The Mobile Device Consumer
Nearly 60% of American adults have a smartphone. This number is only increasing. People are using their smartphones to access the web and that has a few implications for restaurants.
First, free Wi-Fi is close to becoming an expected perk by people visiting places like restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and other similar businesses.
Second, people are using their phone as basically their main way to access the Internet. They’re looking for information of all kinds including information about where they should eat. This means that having a mobile-friendly site is become a requirement. Responsive design should really be on your list for the New Year along with an initiative to work with your host to get a fast site that loads quickly even when mobile users might not have the best connection speed.
3. Video Views Continue Increasing
78% of online adults watch online video. That number is a year old so you can imagine that it’s higher. And I would say that even those that don’t have smartphones or computers have probably seen a few online videos. I know I’ve showed Grandpa a few online videos on my iPhone over the years.
You can play into the video craze with your fans in a few ways. You can share quick videos on social media through Vine and Instagram. Maybe there is something fun going on at your restaurant. Take a quick video and put it on social media.
You can also look to add professional video to your website. Video is pretty easy to view on smartphones and it works well on a mobile website. Instead of having to scroll through a bunch of content it’s easy for a visitor to simply watch a video. But you still want the content there so they can read and for SEO purposes.
4. Industry-Level Commentary And Content (Also The SEO Trend)
I’m a big believer in blogging. I think it’s the best SEO strategy for a number of businesses including restaurants. You can focus on a few general keywords on the main pages on your website, but with a blog you can attract potential new customers that are searching for all kinds of things.
Being in the restaurant industry you’re in a unique situation to provide expert commentary on the topics and questions your customers are browsing.
You can comment on the big trends like locally sourced ingredients. You could comment on trends in the way dishes are prepared. Or maybe there is a hot ingredient that customers are interested in.
To start, focus on the things your customers ask you in the restaurant as it relates to the general industry. Then write the answers in blog posts on your site. If people are asking you in person you can bet that many more are asking online. And you can be their source of answers online, which earns their visit and business.
5. Higher Value On Photo Quality
Many restaurant websites and social media profiles have pretty poor photography. The food industry is really hard when it comes to food because a photo can go a long way to selling what you’re serving.
You can get away with some smartphone photography on social media, but one investment that is near requirement is professional photography for your website. Hire a local professional to come in and do a photo shoot that allows you to have great photos for your restaurant website.
Start with general photos of your restaurant that can be timeless. Also focus on your menu mainstays; the dishes that have been around a while and that will continue to be around a while.
Use these on your site and you can even use them on social media especially for profile images. Then you can continue to use your smartphone for quick sharing on social media.
Hopefully these provide some action steps as you head into the New Year. There is always a lot of opportunity, but these items I feel are some of the most important when it comes to marketing your restaurant online. It’s time to get away from simply trying these things and start doing them the right way.