What Restaurants Learned About Social Media During COVID-19

COVID-19’s Impact

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on people’s lives and businesses. It has altered the way most businesses are conducting their practices. Moving a lot of business via e-commerce is the typical COVID-19 response. For some industries that is easy, but not for the restaurant industry. Jeff Bezos and Amazon or someone like that has not invented a way for drones to deliver prepared meals straight to your door (yet). So, restaurants will have to settle for delivery right? Well, kind of. Yes, delivery is a thing for many restaurants, but what about the local ones that do not have delivery as an aspect of their business? Working part-time at Tuscany Bistro Bar & Grill in my hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin during COVID-19 has taught me a lot about how a business must quickly pivot to survive this pandemic. You ask, “What could they have possibly done to keep their business afloat during such a time?” And I will reply with two words, Social Media.

Know Where Your Target Market Lives Online

Recognizing the company’s target market and tailoring efforts towards it. This is a crucial step in putting together a successful marketing plan. The same goes for restaurants when taking a stab at the world of social media. I call it the world of social media because it is so broad and vast. Everyone, even elderly adults in today’s day in age, have some form of a social profile. Now in this world, a person has to know where their customers (target market) reside online from a social standpoint. That could be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.

Facebook appears to have a great number of middle to elder age users. Most casual Facebook and social media users can testify to this. Instagram and Twitter on the opposition, have a much younger demographic. So, it came as no surprise to me that when assisting with Tuscany’s social media during the COVID-19 pandemic that more people we saw more success on Facebook than Instagram or Twitter. This is because the target demographic for Tuscany and our typical customer is over the age of 30 who appreciates great Northern Italian cuisine 😉 And you guessed it, that is the target demographic for Tuscany. So, we noticed that Facebook was our strong suit where we saw much success in engagements with our posts. So we stuck to it as we saw our posts converting into sales. Know where your target market lives on social media and build your community.

Where does your brand’s target market live?

Know What Your Followers Like and Feed Them Content

Once a restaurant has planted themselves in their social media platform, they need to produce relevant content for their followers or subscribers. In the COVID-19 case, this means providing updates about how customers can pick up their curbside order, specials the restaurant may be running, etc. Communication during this time is key. One successful way many restaurants used social media is they implemented video posts and image posts.

These videos or images of new or special menu items bring in the visual marketing effect that is lost once a restaurant can no longer have customers dine in with them. For example, a restaurant known for its wine is selling a new bottle of wine. They have never sold this bottle for dine-in purposes before. And yes, in Wisconsin, where this is being written, it was legal for businesses to sell liquor products to customers for pick-up. What a time to be alive. Anyways, so now they have this wine that nobody has had before yet, so they have to sell it. The restaurant then posts a video to Facebook of them pouring the wine into a glass while talking about its features. If they chose to do an image post instead they would list the features in the post next to the picture. I even saw some restaurants posting videos of the bartender pouring the wine next to an entree it may pair well with. This helps the restaurant up-sell by bringing awareness to the customer. By doing such, a restaurant can increase the interest of new customers and retain current ones.

Engaging and Encouraging Interaction Pairs Well

In the end, social media marketing for any brand comes down to engaging with customers. Doing so makes them actively feel like apart of the brand. Everyone wants to have a say in something they are a part of. So, be a careful listener to customers posting reviews both positive and negative. Responding to both types of reviews is a healthy practice when looking for ways to improve as a brand. Also, customers can be very innovative. They can provide valuable ideas. This may mean crowdsourcing ideas for new curbside-pickup menu items. Crowdsourcing takes in a vast amount of ideas from different customers. An effort such as this encourages brand engagement via social media. Crowdsourcing can lead to successfully reaching new customers through shares by customers the post left a good impression on. This leads to success in brand awareness efforts and will drive new business during a time such as the pandemic.

Listen to the voices in the crowd

Make Your Presence Felt

Due to these unprecedented, challenging times, James Pellizzi & Co. believe social media marketing benefits not only restaurants but all aspects of business. How will you make your brand’s presence felt in the social media world?

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