Remember when social media was first coming on strong and everybody poked fun at the people who posted photos of what they ate every day? Since then, marketers that are even remotely related to the food industry have been a bit gun-shy when it comes to promoting food and beverages. Since F&B is our business, the challenge is to promote it without inspiring eye rolls and snickers. Here are seven ways to do it.
1. Host an event to introduce new menu items. You’ll create anticipation and buzz by inviting Facebook fans and Twitter followers to register for the limited seating event. During the event, take short videos interviewing customers and feature them on your social networks and in your email newsletter.
2. Ask customers to participate in an online poll where they’ll vote on their favorite menu item. Be sure to promote the poll in your email and direct customers to vote on your Facebook page. In exchange for their vote, let them know that participants will be entered into a random drawing to win their favorite meal. Along with engaging customers between visits, this tactic also provides great insight into their preferences.
3. Cater to your VIP customers by inviting them to try pairings of specialty food and drink items. This is a great way to show appreciation to loyal customers while also driving word-of-mouth to attract new customers. For the online element, fully engage customers during their visit and follow up afterwards with a personalized thank you email that includes a special offer.
4. Run a contest that challenges social media fans and followers to capture their dining experiences at your place. For example, you can award prizes in a variety of categories such as best birthday celebration or spiciest bachelorette dinner. Just be sure to require entrants to include interesting photos of their F&B. From there, ask online followers to weigh in on the entries. This will encourage participants to get their friends involved while further spreading the word about your business through social media.
5. Create a sense of mystery by not featuring food and beverage items. While you can’t employ this tactic all the time, you can run a “mystery” campaign to pique curiosity. For example, ask customers to guess what’s new on the menu by giving a few hints such as special ingredients or country of origin. Those who guess right may receive a complementary drink or appetizer.
6. On the opposite end of that spectrum, it’s worth investing in a photographer to take great shots of your fresh food and beverages. While smartphone photos and videos can help spread the word online, there’s a lot to be said for proper lighting and other elements that make promotional photos pop.
7. Present an offer that inspires customers to bring friends along. If you have mixed feelings about daily deals, know that they can be successful. The key is to oversee the offer so you can control who receives it, how much will be discounted, and that you have the contact information for new customers so you can engage them after they redeem the deal.
F&B marketing doesn’t have to stand for flat and boring. To drive customers to your place, consider the tips suggested above that combine email and social media using a variety of campaign approaches.