Social media is an instrumental piece of the modern digital marketing funnel, as it offers a channel to find, connect, and engage with prospective customers in your target market. However, a content strategy that lacks consistency and forethought will fall flat of reaching the ultimate goal of social media: converting interested leads into faithful followers and, eventually, booked clients.
Let's look at the best platforms to use in the food industry and some helpful tips to ensure your social media content is compelling and relevant to make a difference in your business.
Recommended Platforms for Bar and Restaurant Pros
First and foremost, Instagram is a highly visual platform is the ideal place to share all of the beautiful imagery of your food and beverages. If possible, bring in some professional photographers to upgrade your portfolio with crisp, clean photos that look better than those in your phone’s camera roll. You’ll find that you receive more engagement on Instagram than on other platforms (including Facebook).
Still, you do need a Facebook page presence for SEO purposes, and if you plan to run ads on either Facebook or Instagram. You don't need to spend too much energy on it, but at the very least, cross-post any of your new Instagram photos to keep your Facebook fresh and updated. If you do want to capitalize on Facebook, the answer is in the Groups feature. All social media platforms are driven on authentic engagement instead of random posts, so starting a group to connect with your ideal clients is the best way to make the most of your Facebook presence.
It's also important to show up on LinkedIn, which is tailored more towards professional networking. Even so, your ideal clients are there as well, particularly if you serve the corporate sphere. Lately, LinkedIn has seen more robust engagement than other platforms, so it is a strong choice for sharing content.
Last but not least, Pinterest is often an event professional's platform of choice with its image-driven search feature and the ease of embedding click-through links to a selected webpage. Pinterest is more a search engine than social media, so that it can be quite advantageous for SEO purposes. Take that striking cocktail photo from Instagram, write a keyword-heavy caption (perhaps including a recipe), link it to a relevant blog post on your site, and Pin away. The value of this simple, long-term approach to creating a channel for website traffic anytime someone saves your Pin.
A Case for Pre-Scheduling (and The Best Tools for It)
Consistency is one of the largest indicators of trustworthiness on social media; if you’re showing up regularly, your followers will assume that you will do the same for them in a professional capacity. You should be posting between three to seven times per week.
For many, it can seem like an overwhelming task to juggle alongside the other responsibilities that keep your business afloat. Fortunately, many pre-scheduling tools allow you to schedule posts in advance, so you're consistently producing content, even when life gets in the way.
Later.com is an excellent choice for beginners and veterans alike; it's easy to use, and the free program is quite robust with features to make pre-scheduling quick and efficient. Hootsuite is another great choice for cross-platform scheduling, with the bonus that it can connect to your LinkedIn page.
The most efficient way to pre-schedule content is to do so in batches in advance. Spend a few hours working on a month's worth of content, from curating photos and writing captions to selecting the appropriate hashtags. Once you have it ready you can use your scheduling platform and come back in a few weeks to tackle the following month.
Tips for Creating Social Media Posts that Hit the Mark
A common mistake seen across the industry is to post visually striking photos of a meal only to add a short caption with little to offer. On social media, your words matter just as much as your images. While your photos need to grab someone's attention as they scroll by, your words are what help to build the trust factor that will turn a follower into a client. You may not accomplish that in one social media post, but that's why it's essential to show up as an expert through your messaging consistently.
Use your messaging to nudge followers further down the marketing funnel. Present their top challenges and discuss their hopes, conveying why your company is in the best position to help them achieve their dreams. Otherwise, you'll have people liking pretty photos on your feed, which, ultimately, doesn't influence your end goal of earning new clients. Provide helpful advice that solves your ideal client's primary problem and inspire them with fresh and creative ideas.
Another habit to avoid is strictly posting promotional content. While new offerings and sales are great and newsworthy, you need a more robust content strategy that highlights all of your business's facets. When a brand is only sharing sales content, it becomes known as a budget brand, amongst other low-cost options on the market.
Focus on differentiation by keeping your photos and captions unique, helpful, and attention worthy. Video snippets work well, as do pictures with bright colors or odd angles. Consider what would pique someone's curiosity as they're scrolling through their feed. Alternatively, people love to see things they appreciate in a new, dynamic light. For example, a simple mixed drink can be made dramatic with smoke or dry ice, whereas a lavish display of hors d'oeuvres can shine against pops of bold colors.
Ultimately, social media is a means for digital networking. Think of it as a party where you aim to come out with new connections. You wouldn't wait in the corner waiting for people to come to you; instead, you would work the room and introduce yourself to everyone you'd like to know. If you're not getting the engagement you expect, it's likely because you haven't put yourself out there enough to see a return. Start searching hashtags and finding where your ideal customers are hanging out, liking, and commenting to make your presence known.
Engagement is important to business growth not just because it extends your audience but also because it showcases your expertise in our industry's fundamental aspect, creating connections. If you showcase yourself building those relationships online, it'll be a no-brainer for people to come to you in person when they need it.
Want help with your social media content? Click here for a free social media quick start kit that includes images, captions, and hashtags to help you start leveraging the power of social media to convert followers into customers.
Aleya Harris, CPCE, an award-winning marketer and former chef and catering company owner, is the Owner of Flourish Marketing, an agency that provides marketing education, strategy, and tools to help wedding, catering, and event professionals get and keep a consistent stream of clients. Aleya is a StoryBrand Certified Guide. She uses that narrative-based framework to develop clear, engaging, and highly converting marketing assets, like websites and social media solutions, for her clients. Aleya is the current Marketing Committee Chair for NACE and a top speaker at conferences and events like Catersource and The Special Event.