Facebook is the most popular social network in the world; however, many small businesses struggle to get enough results from Facebook to make it worth their time. As a restaurant owner, it is possible to utilize Facebook to build relationships with existing patrons while encouraging new ones to frequent your establishment. With a more informed approach to posting, you can increase the reach and effectiveness of your Facebook posts in no time. Here are a few tips to get started. 

Create a Page Personality

As a restaurant owner, it’s your responsibility to create a Facebook page that matches the look and feel of your eatery. For example, if your restaurant caters to parents of small children, you will want to include family-friendly content on your Facebook page. You could advertise your expansive kids menu or offer a day of the week where children eat free with accompanying adults. On the other hand, a restaurant seeking to create a sophisticated atmosphere should make sure its Facebook page is equally elegant. Post pictures of your swanky décor, or offer tips for choosing the right wine to accompany your entrée to get the desired clientele walking through your doors.

Additionally, choose a single staff member to act as the face and voice of your social media campaign. If more than one person will be posting content, make sure they create a unified “voice” for your page. 

Make Use of Facebook Tabs

Want to make it easier for people to navigate your Facebook page? Facebook tabs inform visitors about the complete range of content that is available online. Listed at the top of the page, these easy-to-find tabs are ideal for highlighting your current menu, showcasing images of your food and décor, and offering information regarding your hours and location. Additionally, many restaurants now designate one tab for web reservations through services such as OpenTable. To learn more about how to integrate page tabs, see Facebook’s tutorial here.

Offer Special Savings

Offering deals and promotions is a great way to enhance your Facebook presence while encouraging new patrons to visit your business. Many restaurants post food and drink specials, such as coupons offering free appetizers or discounts on happy-hour drinks. Providing exclusive deals to your Facebook followers encourages them to keep checking your page; it also reduces the chances they will hide your posts on their newsfeed and may even spur them to set up a notification for when you post (in order to avoid missing out on deals).

If you need to increase your number of followers or the reach of your posts, you can ask Facebook users to sign up for your mailing list, to share a post or to “like” your page in exchange for a free cocktail. It’ll increase your business in the short term while affording your restaurant a leg up on future marketing endeavors

If you’d prefer to limit the amount of prizes you give out (and the budget directed towards it), you can encourage people to “like” or share posts in exchange for entry into a contest to win a $100 gift certificate to your restaurant. 

Encourage Check-Ins

Utilizing Facebook check-ins is an easy and effective way to draw potential customers to your restaurant. In order for visitors to check into your business, you need to set your Facebook page category to Local Business. Users can then “check in” on Facebook every time they visit your brick-and-mortar location. 

Not only do check-ins increase the awareness of your restaurant, but they also appear in Facebook’s Graph Search results. When users search for restaurants in a given city, eateries where their friends checked in will appear in the results. Endorsements from friends and family members carry more weight than third-party advertisements, and they are also free, which makes them incredibly valuable to business owners. As an incentive, try offering a small discount for guests who take the time to check in when they dine at your restaurant.

Leverage the Power of Images

If you’ve been sharing text-only posts on Facebook, you may be missing out on a valuable opportunity to engage with your audience. According to a recent study, Facebook posts with photos generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than those containing only text. Along with boosting engagement rates, picture posts enable you to showcase the best aspects of your business. Share a close-up shot of your newest specialty pizza or an image of a happy family dining in your restaurant. Just make sure that any and all photos posted on your Facebook page are high quality. In fact, you may want to consider hiring a professional to photograph some mouthwatering food shots for your cover page.

Be Seasonal 

Does your restaurant offer a changing menu to reflect the season’s freshest fare? Use your Facebook page to highlight all the seasonal and holiday treats you’re serving up this year. As mentioned above, images are much likelier to catch the eye, so be sure that potential patrons can see those vibrant summer salads and creamy winter soups for themselves. Not only does posting seasonal food art stimulate the taste buds, but by making it clear that these dishes are only available for a limited time, you can also get patrons to stop by sooner rather than later. 

Respond to Positive and Negative Posts

Because social media is about building relationships with clients, it’s essential that restaurants respond to user comments on their Facebook pages. Along with taking the time to answer questions about the current menu and special events occurring on the premises, restaurants should reply to all the reviews they receive. While the temptation to ignore or delete negative comments can be great, responding to bad reviews demonstrates that you care about improving your customer experience. Instead of arguing with an irate client, courteously acknowledge his or her concerns, and encourage the guest to come back and try your establishment again. Patrons don’t expect perfection, but politeness and professionalism go a long way toward generating business.

Be Specific With Your Facebook Ads

As a social media-savvy restaurant owner, you probably already know that Facebook ads are a great way to raise awareness for your eatery and to promote new menu items and specials. For restaurants in particular, it’s essential that you utilize location targeting for your Facebook ads. By targeting your ads to certain counties and cities, you can avoid wasting your precious advertising budget while ensuring that only your desired clientele receives your message. Want to draw in customers from nearby cities and towns as well? Take advantage of Facebook’s radius targeting feature to advertise to those residing within a certain number of miles from your locale.

Engaging Friends on Facebook 

As is true for most social media sites, the key to success is providing a steady stream of relevant, engaging content for your followers. As a restaurateur, you should post a wide variety of content, including images, videos and text. A general rule of thumb is to make 80% of your posts informative ones, like recipes and fun food facts, and only 20% promotional posts, like special offers and contests. Keeping your Facebook friends entertained is the best way to ensure they visit your page—and your restaurant—often.