Social Media & Online Marketing Musts for Restaurants

The restaurant industry has been notorious for super tight budgets. With the economy taking its toll heavily on the industry, that fact is more apparent than ever. Through hardship comes innovation though and restaurants have tools at their command that are inexpensive and sometimes even free!

“But, what are the right medias for my restaurant?” You may be asking yourself. Here are the musts for EVERY restaurant in no particular order:

1. Facebook – Free

If you don’t know what Facebook is or how it can work for your restaurant you are living under a rock. Period. It’s free to setup a Page on Facebook that will allow fans/followers the ability to connect to your updates and messages. Messages including discounts, promotions and events. You post them. They get them. What’s more is, they actually WANT to get them from you instead of a mindless, intrusive direct mail campaign. Imagine 1500 actively listening and engaged potential customers at your fingertips. That’s Facebook for your restaurant. Use it now.

2. Email Marketing – Free – $100+ a month

Email marketing is nothing new. However with systems like and Fishbowl it’s easier than ever to build an email subscriber list and blast out marketing messages in full color that guide recipients to “convert.” They could make a reservation, buy a gift card, or simple download your menu and call in an order. The systems fees vary but are extremely affordable. Get started building your list today by simply setting out an actual fishbowl for business cards. Use those business cards to add emails to your list, but make sure you post that on the promotion. Let them know they are subscribing by entering into the drawing. You want people who WANT to hear from you on your list. An unknowing subscriber can get pissed off rather quickly.

3. Foursquare – FREE

Foursquare is relatively new, but highly adopted by the masses whether you know it or not. The system is simple. As consumers we can check into the places we visit like restaurants, salons, home, work, whatever. We checkin by clicking the button on our cell phones. We collect friends who see our checkins. We can add tips or notes to a restaurant’s page and much more.

As a restaurant, you can add promotions/discounts to your FourSquare page that are delivered when people hit milestones like first checkin, a certain number of checkins or when they are the person that has checked in the most, also called a “Mayor.”

4. Blabberbug – $250 setup/$1.50 per blab

Delivering discounts is something mostly every restaurant does. However, you’re only getting one person with that discount. Instead of couponing to one person, make them send coupons to their friends to get a better offer. That’s what does for you. It boosts your word of mouth via viral coupons.The system charges a setup fee and then charges you every time someone sends a coupon to three friends. The entire instance, called a “blab,” costs $1.50 and goes up to whatever budget you set.

5. Google Local – FREE

It goes without saying that Google is a pretty big deal. One thing a lot of restaurants don’t do is setup their own Google Local account. It’s free and it lists vital information amongst other things. It’s also a quick and easy way to get number 1 placement in search results for your restaurant in your geography. Do it now.

There are, of course, many other online medias and social networks you should be involved in, however; it’s better to start with this 5 and move on from there. Remember, you want people who WANT you and that’s what the web is all about delivering. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the statistics you get with each of these medias. Stats are what makes internet marketing 100 x’s better than traditional.


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