The power of social media is a topic that needs no clarification. However, when budgeting is thrown into the mix, the reality is often wrongly perceived to be more complex than it is.
For any small business operating within the food and beverage industry, a well-implemented social media strategy is essential. Social media platforms cater perfectly to this industry due to its focus on visual content and customer interactivity. Yet, for a small company invested in this sector, budgeting for a social media campaign alongside the many other overheads can be a daunting process.
However, successful social media campaigns need not be expensive. They do not need pricey photo-shoots, access to exclusive events or lucrative giveaways. In fact, the fundamental elements required for effective social media marketing are inexpensive and easily managed. Being aware of how to fully maximise on the various capabilities that social media can offer on a small-budget will make a significant difference to your small business's online presence.
The food and beverage industry is extremely visually-orientated. Nothing can create a buzz around your business more than an image. Alongside an exciting caption, photographs can really sell your product. Seasonally contextualise your products through photographs, post a picture of your new menu or picture a tempting shot of your dishes.
The key here is to keep an up-to-date image bank of well taken photos. Recycling old images can get boring and uncreative. For the most part, hiring a professional photography team can be expensive (unless you work with Double Up!) Instead, use credited images posted by your customers that shows them enjoying their time at your restaurant or eating your products. Most new phones can capture a great photo of your products and can be used to picture any events (e.g. promotional nights, food festivals). Simply make sure that the appetising dish is captured against a well-lit and scenic background.
Live-streams and video stories are becoming more and more popular in the social media world. For a small business, sharing these videos can be a great way to generate excitement around your products for free since they do not require a professional team or any external costs. Ask your employees to video a ‘how it is made’ story in the kitchen or to document the reveal of a new dish. Taking your followers ‘behind the scenes’ for an inside look is an innovative way of producing engaging content. Ultimately, the restaurant industry is driven by the desire for a great experience. Use videos as a cost effective way to live those experiences.
The role of branded storytelling on social media has rocketed over the past year and it continues to grow. It is a trend that every business looking to boost their social media presence must jump on. ‘Stories’ prioritise mobile-first content, so be sure the stories are concise and clear. The videos and stories should remain professional and consistent by using the same text style and format. Luckily, editing is cheap since most social media platforms now have their own expansive editing tools.
Engaging with your community.
It may sound obvious to engage with your community and interact with your followers. Yet, the fundamental purpose of social media, communication, is often neglected by businesses instead looking to bombard their account with promotions. Taking the time to engage with your community and make customers feel appreciated is essential and crucially, it is free. The 80/20 rule of social media is cheap but remarkably effective.
One fundamental part of being social is to avoid exploiting social media only for an online sales pitch. Importantly, only 20% of your content should be promoting your brand and 80% should be dedicated to content that engages your audience and captures their interests. Think about creating new and exciting content to really connect with your customers.
Maybe create small quizzes about the food industry or ask your followers about their favourite food/flavour through polls. Even encourage your followers to play a part in naming a new item on the menu or suggesting a new flavour for a dish. Generating conversation with your community is an excellent and cheap way to enhance your business reputation.
Social media is all about interaction. Be sure to reply to any customer feedback or queries promptly and in an approachable manner. Most customers expect to have a reply within 24 hours, so keep on the look-out for comments and messages. Simply replying ‘thank you!” to a kind review or comment about your dishes or service can go a long way for the customer.
After all, 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that business to their friends and family. This is a significant figure that could seriously benefit a small company in the food & beverage industry, where recommendation is vital.
The role that social influencers can occupy in encouraging their followers to try a new product or service should not be underestimated. Over the past few years, their influence has only increased and continues to grow. In fact, one survey claims that 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations on social media when deciding to buy a product or service. A simple snap or video from a social influencer enjoying and recommending one of your items will catapult your brand awareness and enhance the excellent reputation and credibility of your business.
For some industries, recruiting a social media influencer can prove expensive. However, as a small restaurant or food company, you can offer free food or discounts to a more localised micro-influencer who has less than 20,000 followers. Influencers enjoy an important and trusted role in their community, so their endorsement of your company will expose you to their loyal and local audiences.
As a small business operating in the food and beverage industry, there are numerous ways to grow your social media on a low budget. However, implementing all of these effective measures can take time and often warrants a full-time job in itself. If you are a small business who wants to learn more about how we can help in your social media strategy, reach out!