Creating social media for restaurants takes time, and time is something you probably don't have a lot of. It's important, however, and it should be a part of the marketing plans you have in place for your business. Instead of shying away because of fear or frustration, dig in slowly and follow these simple, straightforward guidelines to create a strong social media strategy for your restaurant.

Hub and Spoke Model

When it comes to social media, all restaurants, food trucks, and catering businesses should have a central hub, and then spokes that branch out from that hub. For example, two great options for the central hub are a blog or Facebook page.

Blogs can be time-consuming and complex, but if you can handle it, they're fantastic because you can create longer posts and then broadcast your blog on other social media platforms. If you don't think you can keep up with maintaining this aspect of your website, then use Facebook as your hub. Post your newest and best content, and then share on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on. Think of these smaller platforms as the spokes that extend out from your central content hub.

Platform Dos and Don'ts

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to social media for restaurants, but all restaurants can benefit from doing something. With the growing popularity of social media, it's important to get your business established on at least one platform. Start with some simple posts or by sharing relevant links, and see what works for your business.

Additionally, don't wait for the next new hot platform or chase every new app. Master one platform, rather than dabbling in three, so you can focus your efforts on doing one thing well and consistently.

What to Post

Worthwhile content is engaging, encouraging, exciting, and most of all, it doesn't try to sell you on something. You can insert a message about a special or an upcoming event once in a while, but your entire strategy should not consist of "tonight's special is XYZ." People use social media to engage with others, not to buy services or products.

Share beautiful photographs and images, post interesting news pieces about the industry, ask questions, get people involved in conversations about community events, and write articles that relate to food or an aspect of your restaurant. Give your staff some love for doing great work and post tributes to important mentors and industry influencers. If you get rid of a beer, take a picture and ask your followers what they want in its place. Once you have a winner, send a private message back to the people who voted for it and invite them in for a pint.

Social media can serve a specific purpose depending on the type of business you run. For instance, food trucks must use social media to let their customers know where they are; catering businesses must show off events so customers can picture themselves hiring them; and restaurants must post specials so customers can look forward to trying out new dishes. However, that information can't be the only content on your page. Consider a rule of seven-to-one: For every one sales-driven post, you should share seven engaging pieces of content.

Most importantly, get your audience involved. This is where conversations are happening today—your job is to create an environment where people can interact with your brand and other brand supporters. Simply put: engage with your audience and be authentic.

How Often to Post

According to Buffer (a website you can use to schedule your posts in advance), you should post multiple times a day per platform. Here are some simple guidelines:

  • Facebook: Two or more posts per day
  • Twitter: Three or more Tweets per day
  • Pinterest: Five pins per day
  • Instagram: One or more pictures per day
  • Blog: Three to five articles a month to start, then increase as you see fit

While these are good practices to follow, remember that they are suggestions and you should only do what you can with the time you have. Try to create a regular schedule for yourself and you'll notice that your efforts may be rewarded with more shares and exposure.

Creating social media for restaurants can feel overwhelming with all the options out there, but it doesn't have to be. Embrace it as an important step toward your restaurant's success, as well as a way to engage with your customers. Keep it simple and fun with these tips, and you'll start to notice the positive impact social media can have on your business.