How Social Media can Influence Your Restaurant

Your restaurant is failing, and you have no idea why. You have great service, unique food and a fun atmosphere, yet you are getting less and less customers everyday. How could this be?b2ap3_thumbnail_Restaurant-Review-Websites

If this scenario sounds familiar to you, your restaurant may be suffering from a bad case of negative publicity, most likely through social media sites such as Yelp, Urbanspoon or Foursquare. Even worse, you could have no presence at all. These days, your restaurant’s image comes from much more than simple word of mouth or a flashy advertisement in the local paper.

Since the advent of the smart phone and social media, customer reviews have never been more important. As of December 2012, Yelp serves over 78 million unique customers monthly with over 40 million monthly reviews. According to one survey, more than 75 percent of restaurant-goers look up a restaurant’s reviews online before eating there. Furthermore, a restaurant with a half-star increase on their Yelp review has an average of 27 percent more revenue. For those non-math majors, that’s a pretty big difference.

So what does all of this mean? It means that more and more people everyday are using reviews of seemingly random people over reviews from a trusted friend or family member. If your restaurant has a good online presence, it will most likely continue to build off of that success. If it has a bad presence, or no presence at all, people will be far less likely to try your restaurant on a whim.

If your restaurant doesn’t have any form of social media, don’t fret. Yes, you’re behind, but at least you’re still alive. The best thing about social media, at least for the businesses’ sake, is that it’s free to sign up. It’s like starting all over again, even if your restaurant seems like it’s in the dumps.

If you do have social media, but are getting bad reviews, or just mixed reviews, it’s not the end of the world. One of the greatest parts about social media is that it allows for great interpersonal communication and monitoring of customer reviews, something that was much harder to execute just a decade ago.

Say you have a negative review, which, more than likely, you do. This particular review gave you two stars, saying that the customer service was good but the food was cold when they got served. With Yelp, all you have to do is respond to their review with some way to remedy to the problem. At the very least, people will see that you actually care about the company, and more importantly, care about the customers. If everything goes right, that person will be more inclined to try your restaurant again, like it, and give it a positive review. Imagine how that would look for your public image.

One of the major difficulties that restaurants face in the digital age revolves around lack of time. It seems like every week customers have a new outlet to speak their mind. Websites like Yelp, Foursquare, Urbanspoon, Zagat, Dine.com, Eater, Food Network and local blogs like Uptown Messenger, not to mention social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus require constant maintenance to be successful. One post a week will not do for social media. The same goes for the occasional rebuttal to a bad review. If you don’t do this constantly, your restaurant could be in danger.

Social media has changed nearly every business, some for the better, some for the worse. Restaurants are no different. If you know how to capitalize on these new trends, have a good product and a good work ethic, you could wind up with a world-class restaurant on your hands. Embrace social media. It’s not going anywhere soon.

If you are a business in need of online marketing or social media/local review monitoring, give Online Optimism a call at 504-521-6222.