Telling Your Story – The Power of Social Media for Restaurants

Richard O'flynn 10th July 2020
4 min
4 min

Nearly 4 billion people use social media across the globe

In last week’s edition, we began our exploration of how restaurants tell their story by looking at websites and what they can do for you. And while it is vital that restaurants leverage their websites to tell a compelling story, it’s just the first step. 

Social media is where things really get turned up a notch. 

Having a great story to tell is one thing; getting people to listen to it is quite another. The power of social media to amplify and expand your story is extraordinary, giving you the ability to interact with individual customers and integrate yourself into their lives. 

In the UK, the average person spends nearly 2 hours a day on social media. And 75% of people report making a purchase based on something they’ve seen on their favoured platform. 

This week, we’re going to go into detail about how and why social media is so powerful forsmall and independent restaurants, as well as offering some tasty advice as to how you might go about beating the competition with it. 

I’ll Have What She’s Having

Given how integral it’s become to so many people’s lives, it’s hardly surprising how wide-ranging the effects of social media can be. 

Researchers have demonstrated how a Facebook feed can distort your mood, and Greek Islands which are particularly ‘Instagramable’ have been overwhelmed with tourism (until recently, that is!)

The truth is, for many people there really is no separation between ‘real life’ and social media anymore. And that means what folks do in the ‘real world’ is going to be profoundly impacted by what they see on their screens. 

The desire to replicate all the exciting experiences we see on our friends’ social media feedsshapes everything from holiday choices and brand preferences to what we want to eat, wear and believe. 

‘Keeping up with the joneses’ has been around for millennia, but social media really kicked it into overdrive.

So there is a huge potential to drive footfall simply by appearing in people’s social feeds – having customers tag photos of their deserts, creating social media competitions and advertising your new menu additions. 

At a time like this – reopening after a national lockdown – it’s more important than ever: the ability for real people to signal to their friends that your restaurant is open for business and still providing great service can have an immeasurable impact. 

But for smaller restaurants, it isn’t just about creating glamour and whetting appetites – it’s also about making you relatable.

Behind the magician’s cloth

Put simply, social media has democratised customer experiences: rather than simply leaving disappointed, customers now have the power to have their story spread around the web. And this means that businesses which want to succeed must embrace transparency

For smaller restaurants, this is a vital point: social media gives you the opportunity to show your customers exactly how things work behind the scenes; let them get to know your team; and ultimately feel that they know who you are.

The trust you gain by telling your story in this honest, raw way is invaluable – again, especially right now. We know instinctively that if a big chain like Bills shows you ‘behind the scenes’, the whole thing will be heavily stage managed; smaller restaurants don’t have this problem, so being transparent and open – warts and all – can create real intimacy. 

The cumulative effect is that your story is given authenticity, which in turn makes the story itself more impactful. 

And if your story is impactful, people will want to share it.

Creating Contagion

The most powerful aspect of social media is its ability to amplify your story. Within a short space of time – with a little luck – your content can be on 1000s of feeds anywhere in the world, building a reputation and giving your story the added allure of fame.

And the way this happens is individuals choosing to share your story with the world. 

It’s where the magic of social media lies: your own story becomes a communal story, with every customer a potential player. The ultimate effect is shared ownership – which generally equates to a desire to support and help you with custom, recommendations and all the rest.

So how do you go about making that happen?

The Best Content Wins

For small and independent restaurants, social media is – like their website – an opportunity to compete on a level playing field. Because while large chains may have more to spend on ads and have an easier time gaining followers, the ultimate effectiveness of social media marketing comes down to how individual users respond to your content. 

And that means that the best content wins. 

Pink outline phone with social media post

What that means for you – what the ‘best’ content you can produce is – will depend on what kind of story you want to tell, what personalities are involved and what kind of restaurant you want to be. 

And next week, we’re going to dive into the details of this, exploring exactly how to create the very best content you can and how to get it out there properly. 

Social media can be a massive headache, and sometimes a little extra help goes a long way. If you’re struggling to make it work for you and you’d like some advice, please feel free to hit us up for a chat – we’re always here to help.