Given that I own a social media agency, my answer will shock you:
We’ve been doing this a LONG time and worked with all sorts of clients and that’s why, believe it or not, I think that restaurants should always keep their social media in-house.
Generally, we don’t work with restaurants for the reasons I’m going to state here, but don’t worry, if you’re a restaurant owner and your heart is sinking because you simply don’t have the time to do it in-house, I’m going to show you the secret formula to get around it.
**When I say ‘restaurant’, I’m also referring to venues, bars and clubs 🙂
Let’s think about the kind of content that really works for restaurants on social:
- Pictures of food
- Pictures of décor
- Posts about specials, weekly or daily
- Event announcements
- Pictures of kitchen staff working with big smiles (or intense because the meals are complex)
- Pictures of fabulous and inspiring events (videos too!)
- Pictures of happy patrons
- Picture of happier patrons
- Pictures of live bands (videos too!)
What does all this content have in common?
- 99% of it’s timely
- 99% of it needs to be produced in-house i.e. someone needs to take all those pictures on a daily basis
Generally speaking, when you work with an outsourced company like ours, content is developed and posted ahead of time. So when things change like a daily special, it requires a bit more work and that is going to up your fees.
Next, even if you do work with a company to manage your social, you can’t get away from the fact that that company is going to need lots of pictures they can use. Even if they send out a photographer (which is going to cost more money) that photographer is not going to create the energetic and colourful library of images that get the best results because they don’t have access to your kitchen, your staff, your patrons or your events day in, day out.
Honestly, 80% of your content should be images and that requires an in-house person.
Questions and Reservations
If you have an active Facebook page, I’ll wager that you receive the following messages:
- Questions about the menu
- Reservation requests
- Take out requests
- Serious complaints
- Service questions (did you find missing keys, etc.)
These need to be handled immediately and knowledgably, probably by a restaurant manager, around the clock.
At Lyra, we check our clients’ accounts three times per day for questions and messages, and our competitors generally only check once or twice. So again, it really makes sense to have this managed in-house.
Restaurants aren’t exactly 9-5 businesses, right? And that’s a good thing for social because often time (depending on the network and demographic of course) the most active time for users is evening!
When we think of the best time to run a dinner special ad on Facebook to local homeowners, I’m thinking that between 2pm and 6pm is probably best. If it’s a club, 5pm – 9pm would work better. If you’re running an ad, you can expect a surge of activity across the network (in this case, Facebook) so it should be manned.
Unfortunately, an outsourced company is rarely responsible for manning your page after office hours and that’s simply not going to work for a restaurant or venue of any kind.
Where Should A Restaurant Outsource?
Okay, so now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to keep most of the execution in house, let’s talk about where restaurants can save money or be more effective with outsourcing:
Strategy: You can’t afford to mess up the strategy and this requires professionals. We often work with businesses, local or otherwise, and do half day strategy sessions where we look at your clientele, your business objectives, your brand and together we come up with a plan that leverages your internal resources and is feasible to execute.
Training: MANY restaurants will use a talented server or supervisor to also be the social media manager. Fantastic! They need training. People often think they can manage things well, but social media for business is very different from social media for personal use. You need your resource to understand:
- The networks’ best practices (it varies from network to network)
- How to build the community (yes there are formulas!)
- How to deal with complaints and criticisms in a way that will help – not damage – your brand
- Time saving tricks so they’re not spending every waking moment on social media
Twitter, Blogging, Email: These three areas are your exception. Because this content can be developed in advance, and serves to amplify your existing (or real time) content, I think a restaurant owner could responsibly outsource these three execution functions, while keeping the other functions in-house.
Twitter: This one is a no-brainer because it takes so much work to make a twitter feed successful. We tweet for our clients a minimum of 20x per day and that’s the small end of the wedge. Very few non-professionals i.e. the server your hire to do this part-time, can realistically manage this so don’t expect them to. Let your in-house focus on the more important networks to your business like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Yelp, and local databases.
Email: Your email will need to be created ahead of time and will generally cover bigger news items – think: A festival rather than a daily menu change – so this is an easier one to outsource as well. The same goes for blogs.
The Perfect Restaurant Plan
So it should look like this:
|Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Yelp, etc.||Strategy, training, Twitter, email, blogging|
Now, I’m off to send this link to the amazing venue owner who reached out to me the other day because he’s trying to decide whether to keep things in-house or outsource – and I’m hoping this will help!
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