How to increase diner patronage via social media and technology

21 September, 2015 by
Aoife Boothroyd

Eugene Lee of Restaurant and Catering Australia believes that Australian foodservice operators are lagging behind when it comes to embracing technology – especially within the social media realm.

Although navigating the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter may seem daunting to some, Lee says that these social media platforms can provide exceptional marketing benefits for restaurants and cafes – providing that they are utilised effectively.

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Why is social media so important for food service operators? 

Only 30 percent of Australian restaurants and cafes have a dedicated website

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Websites can be costly to set up and maintain. By setting up a Facebook page and Instagram account, operators without dedicated websites are still able to have an online presence and access a large targeted, and engaged audience. Engaging an online restaurant reservations platform can also be of benefit as they allow venues to host current menus online, promote specials and enable venues to reach a much wider, targeted audience than they currently have access to.

Google have announced that they will prioritise websites that are optimised for mobile

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If you’re website is not optimised for mobile, it won’t be prioritised by google. If you don’t have the funds to invest in a good website, Lee recommends directing some of your budget towards sponsored posts on Instagram and Facebook – platforms which are already optimised for mobile.

Lee says that Facebook sponsored ads are a relatively inexpensive way to promote your business. Sponsored posts allow operators to target a specific demographic, and a mere $500 can equate to 50,000 people’s visibility. Lee says that social media advertising is very valuable for operators that can only commit a small spend to their marketing efforts, however how much exposure you get will depend on how much you spend.

According to Lee, the social media platforms which present the most value to foodservice operators are Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – they are also the most commonly used platforms in Australia.

Addressing negative online reviews 

Although social media has a myriad of benefits, the real-time nature of the various platforms means that operators need to be on top of their digital game, especially when it comes to customer reviews. Lee says that Facebook will soon be introducing a dislike button, which will mean that timely and effective responses to negative feedback will be more important than ever. 

To address this, Lee says that the launch of a resolution service – similar to what EBAY currently use – is in the works. This will provide a platform for restaurants to obtain the details of diners so they can directly contact the diner and address their concerns.