A recent study by The Cornell Center for Hospitality determined that many restaurateurs lack well defined goals when it comes to their social media strategy and face serious difficulty in calculating the ROI of social media. Social media provides a low budget marketing strategy that offers the opportunity for operational and customer experience improvement. However, unless your restaurant can establish a good strategy all the labor, which is the most expensive part of social media, will be for nothing. Here are some simple steps to take to create the perfect social media strategy.

1. Pick Your Voice and Audience

First, if your brand doesn’t have a voice you won’t build a valuable relationship with customers on social media. Social media gives you the opportunity to develop a style and personality for your brand and makes your brand more relatable. Your voice can be casual, professional, educational, or an infinite amount of other options. It’s all about picking how you want to sound and staying consistent so customers know what to expect and feel that they can relate to you.

Furthermore, whether you’re speaking to new customers, loyal customers, or customers of competitors they all require different content, offers, and forms of engagement. Customize different social platforms for different audiences. Studies show that users of Facebook are more likely to make a purchase than Twitter users. Use Twitter to spread news to already loyal customers, Facebook for attracting new customers, and Foursquare to entice customers away from your competitors with enticing offers and badges. Read more about how to optimize social media sites best for your business. 

How to create a successful social media strategy

2. Decide on Your Focus

Are you going to use social channels to win new customers? If so, listen to existing customers and learn from them what they like best about your business then tout these strengths. Are you going to use social for education? You can teach prospective customers about your specials, your food’s nutritional value or special offerings, like Vegan or Kosher options. Perhaps you’d like to talk up your drink specials.  Customers love recipes or chef tips.  No matter what you focus on, pick your target and stick to it.  Follow Jay Baer’s advice and make sure whatever content you offer is useful: “Being useful, interesting, and relevant needs to be what your brand is known for (at least partially), now and into the future.” Read more from Jay Baer on this topic.

3. Get the Word Out on All Networks

Multi channel marketing efforts are crucial to gain brand recognition but different networks require different marketing techniques. Using hashtags on Twitter and Facebook is a great way to gain reach across the network. On all social sites you can post updates with links to your content. All links should be preceded with a sentence pointing out an interesting point from the article or a direct quote from a notable person or former customer. Keep all updates short and to the point and semi controversial. Odds are if you think that a particular sentence is interesting, your audience will agree! 

4. Plan When You’ll Share Content

Different social media platforms require a different timetable for posts. For Twitter you should expect to post hourly, since this site receives the highest volume of daily posts by far. In comparison, Facebook only needs to be updated twice daily at the absolute most. Anything more than that will be taken as spam and will reduce your number of likes. For Foursquare, it’s important to post all relevant promotions. As promotions and deals are offered make sure they are known. When planning your calendar it’s important to note that social media is the most active on the weekends. Therefore, posting content on the weekends is crucially important for the social media success of your business. For more information on exact times to plan posts, check out this infographic.

5. Measure Your Success

There are infinite options when you’re looking to determine what your business needs to achieve. In addition to growing your customer base with social media intelligence you can also find areas to save money or increase revenue. Furthermore, are you trying to outshine competitors? With social media intelligence you can monitor what kinds of deals and content they’re sharing, then use this information to create similar (and better) versions of the same tactic! However, if you don’t know why you’re using social media you will find yourself lost in all the options. Define what you want to achieve before embarking on any social media strategy.

Forrester Research suggests ROI can be found in financial numbers (like promotion success), increased usage of digital assets (ad effectiveness), sentiment calculations (brand buzz), and risk avoidance (PR disasters), as we discussed in this article, There’s No Such Things as Social Media ROI–Because You’re Doing It Wrong. While tracking ROI with social media is not simple, there is no doubt that social media intelligence provides a massive benefit to all service based businesses.

To learn more about how to define a social media strategy and get social media intelligence to work for you sign up for a free trial.