As a restaurant owner, you probably understand the importance of using social media platforms to promote your business. However, you may not know the most effective ways of engaging with followers in order to bring more customers in the door.

With more than 10 million users, Twitter is not only one of the most popular social media platforms, but it’s also one of the most effective for restaurateurs. A free service, Twitter allows business owners to communicate with existing clients, answer questions and respond quickly to positive and negative feedback. Additionally, by showcasing special offers and exciting menu items, you can encourage new visitors to frequent your establishment. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the best Twitter practices for restaurants, and ensure your eatery makes the best possible impression online. 

Inform Followers About News and Events 

Want to make your tweets count? Inform followers about relevant news and events, such as new menu items, dining specials and entertainment. For example, you could post about a seasonal food or drink special, holiday celebrations or your weekly karaoke night. Twitter is also a great place to promote one-time events, like music or comedy performances. By posting the inside scoop on what’s happening at your restaurant, you can enhance your value among existing followers while drawing new ones to your page. 

If you really want to increase your following, spend at least half your tweets posting about something besides your restaurant. Whether it’s a link to an incredible recipe, cooking or mixology tips, a quote from a famous chef, or simply something funny or strange that relates to food, your Twitter followers will appreciate receiving amusing, inspiring and educational tweets on their feeds. 

While it’s great to post timely content, restaurant owners should also create a basic schedule for tweeting and stick to it. Whereas posting too frequently can overwhelm followers, extended silences can lead to people forgetting you exist or unfollowing you. Space out your tweets for the week to ensure you don’t flood people’s feeds or seem to disappear entirely. To plan tweets ahead of time, you can use services like BufferApp or HootSuite.

Utilize Hashtags

As a restaurant owner, it’s not enough to post intriguing content. You should also make use of appropriate hashtags to enhance your messages’ chances of going viral. In general, it’s a good idea to tag the city where your restaurant is located along with the type of cuisine you offer. You may also want to highlight characteristics that distinguish you from your competitors, such as a vegetarian or gluten-free menu. 

Keep an eye out for food trends, and take advantage of the opportunity to attract new visitors to your eatery. Services like SocialOomph allow you to track certain keywords throughout the twittersphere, which can help you paint a picture of what food topics are trending. Like most types of enthusiasts, foodies follow and create trends, so make sure to keep a pulse on the restaurant scene and keep an eye on what kinds of foods are increasing or decreasing in popularity.

Post Pictures 

One of the biggest Twitter draws for restaurant owners is that it’s an incredibly visual medium. In fact, studies show that including an image in your tweet can increase its engagement by nearly five times. This is distinctly advantageous for restaurant owners, since their product is by nature very visually appealing. Shrewd restaurateurs will post pictures of their most delicious dishes to get their followers’ mouths watering. You can also use photos to enhance interest in your latest specials or dishes. 

Encourage patrons to share photos of your restaurant by retweeting their pics from your establishment. Everyone likes to see the smiling faces of happy customers enjoying your restaurant. 

Promote Special Offers 

Providing coupons and discounts through Twitter is a great way to increase your value among followers. Encourage patronage to your restaurant by tweeting coupons for free drinks or appetizers. Additionally, you can boost your exposure—and your Twitter stats—by offering a special discount or contest entry to anyone who retweets a special or an announcement. 

The fast pace of Twitter also allows businesses to post last-minute deals to get a temporary boost in foot traffic. Are you anticipating a slow night at your bar or restaurant? Invite customers in with a limited-time drink offer or a buy-one-get-one-free meal deal. For example, you could give your Twitter followers an exclusive discount code for one night only that offers 15% off their entire meal minus alcohol. Small gifts like this encourage more followers to keep an eye on your Twitter feed and can help increase walk-ins on slow nights. Just remember to avoid making all your messages promotional; even your most loyal customers don’t want to read about your restaurant several times a day.

Respond to Comments

These days, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have replaced the water cooler as a space for people to discuss their favorite TV shows, movies and even eateries. Savvy restaurant owners make social media work for them by responding to customer feedback, both positive and negative, on Twitter.

While it’s natural to want to defend yourself in the face of criticism, you should respond to complaints on Twitter just as you would to guests in person. Be polite, and encourage your displeased patron to come back so you can make things right. Additionally, you should take the time to respond to your positive feedback. After all, social media is about developing relationships, and customers like knowing that management is listening.

Advertise Your Own Twitter Account 

Once you’ve optimized your Twitter account, it’s important that you promote it on your other content. List your Twitter name on your menus and blackboards, as well as in your email signature and website. In fact, you can install a widget that displays a Twitter feed directly on your webpage, showing viewers the latest tweets as they’re posted. Finally, be sure to include your Twitter address on your marketing materials and other social media sites. The goal is to create a unified social presence for your business.

Creating Value for Customers

A successful Twitter campaign is one that offers value for followers. Instead of simply broadcasting your own agenda, use your restaurant’s Twitter account to provide worthwhile information. Vary your posts between discounts, announcements and interesting content, and contribute to the conversation by responding to client questions and comments. Don’t be afraid to be colloquial, even playful; Twitter is a great medium for having a conversation and being relatable. By being consistently interesting and original, you can ensure your follower count rises along with your foot traffic.