In the era of e-commerce, as more and more products are bought and sold entirely online, there is something reassuring about the concept of a restaurant. No matter what flavor of food is sold, the nature of the product will always keep the business grounded in brick-and-mortar reality.

However, the importance of online marketing cannot be ignored. The prevalence of social media in particular makes it important to view the Internet as an ally in your ongoing efforts to keep the foot traffic flowing.

Build a Presence

If you want your restaurant to be seen, start by going where customers are most likely to look.

With its more than two billion monthly active users, Facebook stands as the current king of social media. Even if you lack your own webpage or are not active on other sites or apps, having a Facebook page devoted specifically to your restaurant is always a great first step – one that opens the door to numerous other paths in terms of online marketing.

More specifically, Facebook ads have evolved into a key consideration for any business looking to promote itself. The question is not so much “Should I be using Facebook ads?” as “How much should I be using Facebook ads?”

Using Facebook Ads Manager’s fairly intuitive interface, businesses can choose to promote certain posts at certain times to users from as a broad or as narrow a potential customer base as is appropriate for your marketing needs. Of course, some trial-and-error experimentation will be necessary to decide how much to spend on this particular outlet.

Facebook also serves as a great example of a platform that allows you to engage directly with customers by way of its messaging app, which is now nearly as pervasive as Facebook itself.

Using Facebook Messenger, you can answer questions more than easily than would be the case over the phone, yet in a way that provides the same personalized, conversational touch – all while contributing to your appearance as an attentive, Internet- or (more accurately) app-savvy operation.

The Power of Promotions

The social reach of the online world ensures that businesses thrive on positive word of mouth to an extent that was, not so long ago, impossible. Consider a simple campaign that harnesses the power of an existing customer’s positive experience.

A restaurant might give them something like $1 off their meal if they agree to post a picture of it and tag the restaurant on their Facebook page. This will act as a simple yet powerful testimonial – a marketing strategy whereby a customer, in return for a mild incentive, does most of your work for you.

But there are numerous ways to harness the power of the Internet for targeted campaigns. Chief among these approaches are links that provide promotional codes or discounts to people who click on them.

These could be found on social media posts, for example, directing the potential customer to your webpage or a landing page, which might in turn ask for some basic information, including an email address, in exchange for the code. Now you have another name to add to your online mailing list, should you choose to maintain one – itself a great way to reach people!

Note, however, that the average human attention is short – for Internet purposes, eight seconds, by some estimates – so too much information or clutter on a landing page will come across as an unwanted and unnecessary distraction.

The Importance of Images

When it comes to marketing, visuals and written content go hand in hand, often assuming equal importance. The restaurant industry is certainly no exception.

In fact, a restaurant of any kind affords a unique opportunity to attract customers with pictures. After all, why promote a delicious daily special with words alone when you can show customers what they are missing?

Focus on the food that sets your business apart. Capture it in all its mouthwatering glory. Do not rely too heavily on stock images that might set an overly impersonal tone. Above all, view this as an opportunity for creativity that is specific to your establishment.

Arranging more than one menu item on the same table – especially when those items are both complementary and somewhat unique – is usually an effective approach to visually representing what you have to offer.

This brings us back to the value of social media platforms.

For example, the visually oriented Instagram app is on the upswing as a marketing tool for businesses. Look up some of your favorite restaurants on Instagram and take note of how they approach their accounts, including frequency of posting and use of hashtags.

As you take these various factors into consideration, you will most likely find that they work in tandem. Once you find the right balance, it will not be long before you reap the benefits for your business!