The Facebook shutdown of March 13, 2019 gave a glimpse into how much small to medium enterprises (SMEs), including restaurants, rely on the platform in their day to day operations. Approximately 80 million SMEs use the platform and a large number of them were left without a means of reaching their customers during the shutdown. The Facebook shutdown also highlights the fact that no business should rely solely on one platform to reach customers.
Like other business owners, restaurateurs use social media platforms including Facebook to engage and connect with customers. However, attention should be given to carefully selecting the right platforms for your type of restaurant. There should also be a balance between the type of platforms used.
Much like a solid financial wealth portfolio will include investments from different sources, a marketing strategy should include different communication channels and platforms. Each platform and medium has its own advantages, and by pulling them all together, your restaurant will not be left in the lurch if one or two of the platforms shutdown. This includes focusing your efforts on online and offline marketing activities as well as paid and owned media.
The array of platforms for your restaurant should look something like this:
Social sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are great for dialogue with customers. Customer education is also critical. Provide enough information that lets your customers know where you operate from and what other means of contacting you they can use. Ensure you are on more than one of these platforms. This will help you reach more customers and if one of the platforms crashes, your customers will still have access to you. A number of Facebook users took to Twitter after the shutdown, and this may have benefitted businesses who were active on both platforms.
Google My Business
You should also have a Google My Business page that allows customers to quickly find out vital information about your restaurant. You may find that once people realized that Facebook was down, they quickly did Google searches of the businesses they were looking for. Unfortunately, those restaurants who were only on Facebook, may have suffered a loss of clients that day.
Your restaurant’s website should tell the story behind the brand and provide much needed information. As a restauranteur, it is essential that your website provides a menu and contact details as well as a map of where you can be contacted. Your website is owned media, and gives you more control over it. The website should also provide a messaging section where customers can reach out to you. Even more effective is a real time messenger system built into the site, this will give customers an opportunity to engage with you when it suits them.
There are other online platforms that can be integrated with your website and social media pages that may be useful to your restaurant and customers. You just need to take time to consider them carefully.
When you view your marketing efforts like an investment portfolio, you will appreciate the need to diversify. It is critical to think about how to diversify now, and not wait for a crisis to happen. Your restaurant’s bottom line may well depend on your ability to leave your comfort zone and embrace the array of communication platforms available out there.