So – you’ve got  a Facebook page, a Twitter account and Instagram, but haven’t a clue how to maximize their effectiveness in promoting your restaurant.   How often to post?  Should you let anyone post an update?  And no one seems to be able to coherently answer the simplest questions – such as: How do you measure the ROI of a social media campaign?  The question is – do you hire an outside consultant to guide you, or do you give the responsibility to someone on your staff?

The simple answer to this question is – both.

Let’s examine the available options. One is to hire a professional just to run your social media. While there are many social media experts out there, there are not many that fit into the budget of your average restaurant, or restaurant group for that matter, on a full time basis.  It is also becoming increasingly clear that just about every marketing agency out there is going to insist they know how to do it and start throwing buzz words around like “brand ambassador” and “vertical communications“.  It’s only later that you find out they know nothing about the industry in general, and your restaurant in particular.

The next option is to pass the responsibilities off to someone on the staff. Perhaps someone younger, more conversant with everyday social media use, an individual that’s been using these services since middle school. This is the way that I see many restaurants going and it has met with at best middling results. First of all your asking someone on your staff to spend time performing a task that includes an almost guaranteed waste of some amount of time – how can you possibly measure the amount you’re paying someone versus the results your getting? For one thing Facebook Fan pages offer many features that are not part of the personal page experience. They also offer features that require at least a minimal amount of technical expertise to take fullest advantage of them. Then there is the problem of consistency – someone leaves the staff – you need someone to take over and are faced with the same problem all over again.

The best method is to build from the top down. Find a consultant with specific industry experience and work with them to create a social media campaign for your restaurant that makes sense for you. As I’ve stated elsewhere – using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr are not the same as throwing up a website or advertising in a newspaper. These are services have a lot more in common with the way the host engages with a customer or how the bartender remembers the name of a patron’s favorite drink. You want to build on that relationship and executing a social media effort that is off-putting or boring will get the exact same result as it would on the floor of the restaurant. Ask around the industry, see what other people are doing that works and find someone that will listen to you.

It is also important, and this might seem a bit counter-intuitive from someone that markets his services as a social media consultant, that once the campaign is created and specific goals are set at least some portion of the day to day responsibilities for updates can, and in some cases should, ultimately reside with someone in house. These social networking tools are all about relationships and if you have a successful restaurant that means that you know your patrons better than anyone else. Once the structure is created find someone on your staff and give them specific tasks and responsibilities in managing your social media. It is then simply a matter of keeping up with changes as these social networking tools evolve to ensure that your efforts remain relevant and effective.  In the case of a restaurant group it becomes more important to maintain the top down approach and maintain a consistent voice and personality – this is an instance when a third party consultant can be a key component in achieving lasting success in developing  your message.

If you need someone to take a look at what you’re now doing feel free to fill out our online form and we’ll be happy to take a look and give you some constructive feedback – free of charge.