10 Ideas for Restaurants to Generate Business through Social Media

Social media can be leveraged as an on-demand, flexible and cost-effective marketing tool. Used correctly, it can produce both long and short term results for your restaurant. You have two goals – get new people to come in and try your establishment and to get your customers to return again and again. Both are required for financial stability and profitability of a food service establishment.

Here are some promotional ideas you can use right now:

  1. Ask customers to vote for a new menu item or cocktail. Even better, all voters can be given a discount on the winning menu item.
  2. Take pictures of customers celebrating special events at your establishment and post them. Ask the customer for an e-mail to send them the picture and ask them to tag it on the restaurant’s site for their friend and family to view. You get an e-mail and more visits to your site or pages. This enables you do targeted marketing in the future to potential customers who are likely to buy from you.
  3. Featured a local, seasonal ingredient. Ask customers for an idea or recipe to incorporate a featured ingredient into your seasonal menu. The winner can dine with the owner or chef when the new item debuts on the menu.
  4. Host a private event with your executive chef.  The culinary professional can share some tips on how he prepares popular menu items or other culinary advice.
  5. Ask your best customers to be on your “advisory team.” Meet with them for ideas on how to improve your business. Host a “President’s Table” for your advisory team with samples of proposed new menu items for their opinion.
  6. Post pictures of your restaurant behind the scenes and in action. With the popularity of reality TV, this is sure to be a hit. Customers will feel engaged at a personal level and build trust by seeing the quality and cleanliness in areas that are traditionally off-limits to the public.
  7. Have customers take pictures of your food and drinks. Include the best images on your website or promotional menus. Reward your photographer with the food depicted for free.
  8. Take a video to post on YouTube of your bartender (mixologist) “performing” while they make a trendy new cocktail.  Have a contest for the bartender with the best performance determined by customer voting.
  9. Video and post on YouTube a contest where all of your bartenders complete for “the perfect pour” – a perfectly measured cocktail created with the pour “count”.
  10. Co-promote with a local vendor-sponsor a promotion that features their food or drink product.  You’ll reach their customer base and they’ll reach yours.  A win-win for both businesses.

I’d love to hear other creative social media ideas to share with restaurant owners.  What has produced good results for your restaurant business (or client)?