Restaurants of all sizes and in all segments are creating Facebook pages to connect and interact with current and potential customers.
Chick Marshall, owner, Mr. Stox, Anaheim, CA, says he didn’t take Facebook seriously at first but now he thinks it may be a more important communication channel than email. “I created our Facebook page myself last year but realized I didn’t have the time to keep it up, so I hired a company to manage it,” says Chick. He says their fan base is growing, now close to 200. “When hiring a social media consultant, be sure not only to look at the restaurant pages in their portfolio, but to talk to their restaurant clients,” he advises. . . .
“We believe people want to a have a personal connection to the places where they dine,” says Katie Johnson, director of marketing, Harbor Restaurant Group, Destin, FL, who created a separate Facebook page for each of their four restaurants. She posts several times a day – always before lunch and happy hour, with a couple of lines about menu specials and special offers. Katie says pictures from events are very popular and encourage people to check pages frequently and tag photos. She’s also trying out Facebook Places, a location-based app that lets users check in on their mobile devices so friends know where they are. “To create loyalty at our restaurant Fishbar, we’re rewarding those who check in a certain number of times during a month-long promotion with a free appetizer.”
“We’ve had a Facebook page for almost two years because most of our demographic has a Facebook account, and it’s a more immediate way to stay in touch than our website.” – Jim Anile, owner, Revolution, Durham, NC
Last year, the Irish Restaurant Company, MD and MA, hired someone to lead its social media initiatives, including creating and updating Facebook pages for their four locations six to seven times a day. “This is the future – we want to keep ahead of the game, and the only way to do it, I feel, is to have a dedicated person on staff,” says owner Anthony Clarke. Pages have tabs for music schedules, specials, coupons, photos, and quizzes. On their Brian Boru Pub’s page there’s a tab called “Fan Party Info.” Jessica Hahn, marketing director, says, “To enlist current fans to increase the Pub’s fan base, we promised a ‘fan party’ once one of three goals was met – 1,000; 2,000; and 2,500+. She says the promotion ended with 2,800+ fans, who were rewarded with a party (free drinks, food and giveaways) at the Pub. She says that feedback from new fans has been great, many of whom are becoming repeat guests. . . .“We’ve added an ‘order online’ tab to our Facebook page, which increased sales in the first five weeks by 10%,” explains Geoff Alexander, exec. vp, Lettuce Entertain You and managing partner, Wow Bao, Chicago, IL. “When people use the ‘order online’ tab many choose to ‘like’ an item, which is added to their Facebook status – and automatically shared with their friends.” To keep customers engaged and ordering on Facebook, every Wednesday a secret word is posted – tweets remind people to look for it – and if customers use the secret word when ordering, they get something free. “It’s about going viral, and I believe all of this keeps people talking about us and keeps us part of the conversation – which is what we want.