It’s been said before, but never has it been more true. With everyone stuck at home trying to kill time, and restaurants missing their usual interactions with customers, content has become king. Restaurants looking to stand out on social channels need to create engaging, thumb-stopping content that will remind customers of their unique culinary experience.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a great designer to deliver a great message. There are services that offer free social media templates and sharing tools with ready-made, professional designs. Hundreds of these templates are designed exactly in response to the coronavirus crisis. All you need to do is develop the message that best suits you.
Here are seven of the best ideas for restaurant-specific content that you can start sharing to your social media today.
- Your story
More than ever, customers are recognizing the people behind the business. If you want to connect with them, do so by focusing on you and your employees, not your business. Humanize your restaurant by sharing your stories and struggles via videos and posts. That can mean the story of how you’re dealing with COVID-19, or how you’re looking after your employees during this challenging time for small business. Or on a more uplifting note, you can tell the story of your restaurant. Why you chose to start it, why the food’s important to you, and why you’re fighting to keep it open. This is the content that will connect on the deepest level with your followers and encourage them to fight alongside you.
With restaurants closed for everything but takeout, people are forced to spend more time in their own kitchens. Sharing recipes with your followers is a great way to add value to their quarantine experience while keeping them connected to your restaurant. Chances are, even if they successfully follow your recipe, they will prefer to have you do the cooking once things return to normal. Develop recipes straight off your menu if you feel bold, but that’s not critical. As long as you stay in a style that is easily associated with your style and brand, then that’s great too. If possible, choose recipes that can be completed with common ingredients you’d find in most pantries so your followers don’t need to make unnecessary trips to the grocery.
- Tasty-style videos
With over a hundred million followers across their accounts, the Tasty webseries has more views than any other series in the entire history of video. A big reason for Tasty’s success is how well their videos work on social media platforms, especially Instagram. While most restaurants can’t hope to replicate Tasty’s incredible success, every restaurant can copy the formula to produce content that’s proven to engage followers and drive views. Playing with tempo is a great way to breeze past the recipe’s boring parts and focus in on the delicious steps.
- Cooking tips & tutorials
As a restaurant owner or chef, you have a world-class skill. And with social media, you have the perfect platform to share it with your followers. Similar to recipes, video posts of you conducting cooking classes are a great value add to your followers, most of whom find themselves with more time than ever to practice their cooking. These videos can range from walking your customers through a specific recipe to general tips and tricks. You can even host a series on the fundamentals of cooking. If your role in the restaurant lies more on the business side, you can give free lessons on restaurant management and general small business finance lessons you’ve learned. Your followers will love a peek behind the curtain.
- Deals, Deals, Deals!
If ever there was a time to get creative with your deals, it’s now. With everyone offering takeout, it’s important to stand out from the crowd with attention-grabbing deals. Promote gift card sales, taking a cue from national takeout hashtags, or develop a hashtag of your own. Try offering food subscriptions, meal kits, wine pairings, etc. Anything to move inventory from your kitchen to your customers’ dining tables.
- Promote Charitable Acts
As we all band together through this crisis, it’s important for customers to see that your restaurant is actively trying to be a part of the solution. Are you donating leftovers to food banks? Supporting first responders or at-risk communities with meal donations? Providing free cooking classes via your website or social media? If you are, make sure you’re broadcasting it across your social media channels. Not only does it shine a positive light on your restaurant, it fosters a sense of community and encourages your followers to donate as well.
- Host Polls for New Menu Items
Give democracy a chance by letting your customers weigh-in on fun aspects of restaurant dining like choosing new menu items. Right now, your messaging should be that we’re all in this together - what better way to show it than by giving your customers a say in your meal prep? Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat make it easy to host a poll and collect the results.
The key to any successful social media marketing is variety and regular posting. Your customers are stuck at home surfing their social media, so there’s really no limit to how much you can be posting. If you’re struggling to find the time or to come up with ideas, online design services make it easy with custom-made templates you can share. Remember to check out MustHaveMenus’ free collection of hundreds of social media posts specific to COVID-19 and the challenges facing restaurants.
About the Author:
Mark Plumlee is a a copywriter who has helped restaurants and small businesses grow and define their brands.