Social Media has become an important part of business, and takeaways and restaurants are relying on it more heavily the more time goes by. I have found that ultimately, the most successful social media to advertise on is Facebook. This goes for almost all businesses, but for restaurants and takeaways, Facebook will usually yield the best return on investment. Instagram will get lots of reactions, but business wise, it’s a trap. I have an easy guide to setting up and using Social Media which you can find below. It will not only help you quickly set up your Social Media, but it will also give you access to a bit of software which will save you time and make life easier. I will also attach my complete guide to helping restaurants succeed which I add to occasionally on my business website!
Facebook for Restaurants and Takeaways
Facebook is the most powerful form of advertising for anyone running either a Restaurant or a Takeaway, because it has an immense ability to get you seen locally in a way which will actually bring customers through the doors.
Whilst Facebook advertising may seem expensive, it’s actually pretty cheap when you consider the lifetime value of a customer. Some business owners think: “If I get a customer into my restaurant, they will spend £20.00. So when I factor in the cost of the waiter, food, and bills, is it worth it to pay for a customer?” My answer is simple. If your food quality and service is good, then yes. The thing is, a customer who enjoys your food will probably return, and they will probably bring more customers, either sharing things on Social Media, or by word of mouth.
A customer can be a customer for life, showing up several times a month – year after year. This one customer, if treated right, could bring in many more lifetime customers. So maybe it’s worth paying a few pounds to get them in. It’s an investment in the future of your business. Each investment should be treated well and looked after.
So how do we run Facebook ads?
I am a believer in keeping things really simple, as it’s always the best way to run things. I don’t believe in boosting posts, which is weirdly enough a common thing I see with other restaurants. I like a simple Like Campaign, focussed around the Facebook Business Page. This is simple, effective, and requires that the audience only take one step: To like the page. If you boost a post instead, and they like the post, they still need to be invited to like the page. A simple one step process becomes complicated and becomes a two step process, potentially losing you business. It’s not worth it, and you will not get as effective a response. You are welcome to try it though and compare the results if you do not believe me.
Running A Like Campaign on Facebook
There are a number of ways in which we can run a like campaign! The most important thing to do is get those likes up. These people are your followers and potential customers, so the more interaction you get out of them, the better it will benefit your business!
Success can easily be achieved without the need for photoshop or stock photos. I do not like either of these as I see them as dishonest advertising. But they also have a negative result when it comes to selling food, as when a customer comes in they will expect the succulent juicy sirloin steak, cooked to mouth watering perfection that you showed them, not their flat iron steak that my local pub tried to pass off to me, and I haven’t been back since. I don’t forget things like this… I prefer instead to go with simple, natural pictures of food, taken with a decent camera or camera phone.
The thing is your audience knows what they are ordering. They are also not stupid. If your pizzas do not look like the photographs you bought or touched up in photoshop, they are going to actually come back to bite you. The thing is, the first bite is with the eye, and if your food looks amazing, delicious and delightful, and then it doesn’t look that way on the plate, you are going to get negative responses from people, not only in reviews, but in terms of them not wanting to visit.
I have gone to poorly lit kitchens and taken photographs of food being prepared. When I started out as an amateur photographer, I also caught blurry photos that may or may not have featured Bigfoot cooking an amazing keema naan. But the Facebook audience still loved them. They loved the fact the food pictures were of the food and Bigfoot they recognised. They liked to see pictures of the chefs, smiling as they made the food. You don’t need an amazing photograph to sell on Facebook. But it helps to have better quality. If people arrive expecting the quality, and get it, they will be satisfied, and then happy when they get what they want.
Dealing with Complaints and Trolls
Having managed social media for a huge number of restaurants and takeaways to this point. I have noticed two trends with the businesses who take fault with my work. One, they generally have people complaining about the quality of food or service, and two, they refuse to do anything about these complaints or argue with me when I point them out as potential flaws in the business.
Food quality is important. Any restaurant owner who won’t knowingly sit there and eat the food which is being prepared shouldn’t be in the job, and complaints about food quality should be addressed. If a customer complains, they are most likely to be complaining for a reason. Now there are times when rival businesses will try and spike your reviews. This is a natural part of life, but if someone has a genuine food complaint it needs to be addressed, even if you are in the right and the customer is wrong.
Handling a Complaint on Social Media
Whilst posting is important, handling complaints is vital to your success, so I feel it’s more important to mention it first. Most businesses are already familiar with posting, but not everyone can handle complaints well…
Delroyd Haddock writes that the food is terrible, the staff are lazy, and he won’t be returning. He flags the business as a Does Not Recommend. – This is what you will no doubt have had to deal with. There’s the initial surge of annoyance. This will affect your ratings. What he’s saying is untrue! Who the hell does Delroyd Haddock think he is and what kind of name is Delroyd anyway!?! – The hardest thing to do is accept that this random guy might have a point, or, even if he doesn’t and is just being horrid, you can sort it out.
The basic tactic is simple. You respond simply to his review and say: “Hi Delroyd, we’re sorry you had this experience, can you message the page and tell us what’s happened in a bit more detail? We’re currently working hard to sort a few things out and we’d really appreciate your feedback.”
This is an open admission there may be a fault. It makes you look good because you are trying to resolve it. If he messages you, it gets him off of the review section, which is great. The aim is to do a number of things.
- Get him off the reviews.
- Reduce his anger.
- Get potential business feedback.
- Look good on social media.
Firstly, Delroyd will be targeted to message the page or to contact you. If he remains in the reviews, and remains angry, you could have a monster waiting to explode. If he starts messaging you, he’s open to either helping you with a genuine problem, or trying to pick a fight. Never let him have that fight, just be cordial with him regardless of what he says. It’s really hard, believe me, but it’s necessary. You don’t want to lose your cool and have him pasting your responses all over Facebook. That’s never good for business.
Secondly, addressing the problem will help calm him down. If you genuinely care that he’s had a bad time, or at least feels like it, you can talk it out with him. Most customers who are angry have a genuine reason, and by being friendly with them, despite their anger, you can reduce it. If he’s not furious at you or feels he’s being listened to, Delroyd will be unlikely to add any negative comments, or lash out at your business further.
Thirdly, if Delroyd has some points, say you have a slacking staff member, or he has been sick due to being fed out of date chicken, or waited two hours to be served, then you can look into that and help fix issues in your business. He might be more useful to you than the people who may be letting you down.
Fourthly, if your customers and potential customers see you are trying to resolve an issue with him, they will know that above all else, despite the potential abuse you are getting: You care. If you care enough to hear someone out that wants to lash out at you, then you care about them too. You’re fighting to win them over.
Finally. If you do well in your messaging, listen to points, you can always invite Delroyd back for another meal. I recommend a free meal because if he’s had a bad time, he’ll see it as an insult. Ensure quality, ensure service, make great food, and make sure he has a good time. That review might turn itself around and you might have a new good customer. Conversion isn’t that hard. For the cost of an expensive meal, because he will take you for granted, you will potentially get a regular.
Trolls and Sabotage
You will at some point have to deal with a troll. This is a vile monster that lives to cause trouble. Trolls take many forms, but usually in this line of work, they are rival businesses or that one person you really upset many moons ago. Trolls should not be tolerated. Report reviews left by them, and say that it’s a conflict of interest. Prove that this person is working for another local company in screenshots. Block enemies from your page so they can’t interact on it. It’s draconian but people who cannot be reasoned with are only going to hurt you.
A simple rule, but a good one. With all being well, you will never ever have to deal with anything like the stuff I am about to mention. I have dealt with all manner of crazy on Facebook. It’s a miasma of madness at times. I’ve had suicide threats on accounting pages let alone restaurants. People have sent grotesque images, words and information to me.
The best thing to do is block it all out. If it’s not business related, block the people who are messaging you. If someone threatens themselves, tell them to call the emergency services and get an ambulance, but don’t engage with them further. This is not your problem. No matter what people send you, be calm, collected and do what’s in the best interest of your business. The only reason I suggest emergency services for self harming style threats is because it shows you care, and it’s important to look after people who come to you. Anyone who messages you like that and gets blocked could give you a bad going over on social media. It’s never happened to me, but I have seen it done. It’s not pretty.
So Lets Post
Overall, Social Media is highly important for any business, but on Facebook, it really shines. When people like your page, not all of them will see your posts. Usually it will be 5-10% of your audience increased by interactions. Different people will see posts at different times too. If someone likes a lot of your posts they will also see more of them. So what kind of posts work?
Picture, Video and Live
Picture posts are the bread and butter of your Facebook campaign. Posts with a picture tend to do a lot better than posts which are just text. Good, natural pictures as I mentioned earlier are vastly preferred to stock photos, or photoshopped images. They will potentially get less likes, but they will get you better overall results over time. I have used stock photos before, over time, they end up tanking as customers get wise to them. It’s not worth it.
Video posts do well also, though they are time consuming to make and edit. I don’t recommend using more than a few videos, and if you don’t have good kit, it’s just not worth the time you will spend. That said, there are a couple of sneaky ways you can get good videos. The best is to go to a local college and ask to talk to film students. Offer them a free meal to come in and do some photos and videos of your food. You might get some on/off results, but make good friends with the right people and you’ll have some great footage.
Live Videos are good, but you need to be rehearsed. You need to know exactly what you are going to say, when to say it and be prepared for everything to catch fire in the background. My recommendation if you ever go live is to reduce any hazards in the area. If you have to have cooking in the background, make sure someone is there working on it. Never take unnecessary risks. Try to avoid getting customers in pictures and video if it can be helped.
Never do a text post if you can help it. The chances of it doing well are astronomically against you. It takes a few seconds to snap a picture of food on your phone and a few more to upload it.
So, When Should You Post?
Never post more than twice per day. There are a lot of social media companies that recommend posting twice a day, I recommend three to four times a week. Facebook’s algorithms change occasionally, and they ultimately hate spam. Spam does work on some pages, but you’re looking at thousands of likes coming in, massive social media influencers. Not smaller businesses. I recommend posting on a Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, keeping one day open, though if you are open Mondays as well, that’s usually a good night to cover as business will usually be short.
I recommend making the post when you have your first customer of the evening. Take some pictures of the food, once the steam has gone down a bit just before it goes out, right at the end of the resting period. Add a small bit of text with the name of the dish, and if you have time, a little editing on canva in the evening can make something look really special.
Keep things chirpy and positive. Come down and join us this evening! Make it feel cosy and people will come. If you’re running a takeaway, run deals and offers on specific dishes. If you have food that’s reaching the end of its use life, put all your dishes with those foods in up on deal. Aubergines were a huge problem for me with one restaurant until they put their dishes up on deal. You can’t sell a product that’s gone off, so reduce it before it does and save what money you can.
Posts and Cosiness
The best companies I’ve worked with have always kept things cosy. Family businesses do quite well with the chefs often interacting with customers. Family posts are great. Births in the family, birthdays of family members, prompting deals go down well.
Never ever ask a customer if you can photograph them. This is the most alienating thing you can ever do and it will destroy your business. I have seen this happen many times. Avoid posting anything about any customer on social media. The only exception is if someone asks you to photograph a party and the whole group wants you to put the photograph on social media, you ask them to send you the photo, and that’s a form of consent. Just be really careful about posting things like that, and don’t use it if anyone in the picture is unhappy with it. I’d generally advise against it anyway. But sometimes it can be really hard. Especially if it’s two people getting engaged and they both want it. Sometimes you have to make that kind of judgment.
Most people will have heard of this monster in the industry, but TripAdvisor is a must for your sphere of control as a restaurant. Whilst not classified as Social Media per se, it is most likely going to outrank your restaurant or takeaway for the name just by its sheer natural power.
TripAdvisor is a giant in the world of restaurants, and the website’s internal power structure allows it to outrank most of the restaurants and takeaways and even famous hotels on the platform. This is why you have to take over your TripAdvisor page immediately. Go onto TripAdvisor, look up your business if you don’t own it, and claim your business. You’ll have to follow TripAdvisor’s process but it will be worth it. Also don’t pay for any of their privileges. You don’t need them if you’re a capable business owner, and if you’re reading this, you are.
TripAdvisor will allow you access to upload photos, information about your business and respond to reviews. A well manicured TripAdvisor can result in hundreds of customers if well maintained. Just keep at it. TripAdvisor will help you in a lot of ways, from getting calls in to ranking your website. It’s a must have for any business owner.
Google My Business
Google My Business is becoming an important player in the world of Social Media. You will want to create a business profile if you don’t have one, or if there is one in existence, you will want to take it over pretty quickly. Google My Business is a great place to put photographs of your work and ensure information about your business is correct. It’s also good for reviews. You’ll want to respond to each and every one. It’s always good to get people to email your restaurant if they have a genuine complaint.
You can ask Google to remove complaints by rival businesses, as they are a genuine conflict of interest. Some people are nonplussed by Google My Business and some swear by it. Regardless of how you feel, its always best to be in control of your own Google profile, so if you’re not, look your business up on Google whilst logged in to a Gmail or Google account and claim it. The process is a little daunting and it seems to change occasionally, but Google guides you through it pretty easily. I highly advise taking it over.
I hope this helps!
I am the CEO of Fantasoft an up and coming digital marketing firm based in the UK. I work as a blogger, SEO specialist and Web Designer, and my hobbies include making small films and writing music.