It’s good news for restaurants looking to harness the power of social media. Perhaps unsurprisingly, food is the most popular topic for Instagrammers in the UK. In fact, 39% of Instagram users in the UK pursue their interest in food & drink on the platform. This is more than the number following fashion, travel & music.
Despite the natural popularity and attraction of food online, it is not enough for any restaurant to just be present on social media. Every Food & Beverage (F&B) brand must make a conscious effort to build their social media presence around their guests’ customer journey and to provide the quality content that is expected. It can be a tricky task to decipher the exact needs and wants of your customers, but it is so important to do so.
Here, we have listed the four key things that your restaurant guests want from your social media in 2020. Social media trends and customer tastes are forever changing, so it is crucial to stay ahead of the game by knowing what to expect in 2020. Implementing these tips into next year’s social media strategy will be sure to drive brand awareness & keep your punters happy!
They want you to be responsive.
Without a doubt, the most important quality expected from every restaurant’s social media is responsiveness. Sounds easy, right? Whilst this may sound simple and obvious, so many brands either forget or don’t have time to check their social platforms regularly. Recent surveys have confirmed that 80% of customers expect a response from a company within 24 hours. This includes replying to direct messages (DM’s), comments and reviews. Taking the time twice a day (hopefully more) to respond to your customers is such an important task. Your guests need to feel that their opinion is valued. Without a reply, your restaurant could appear rude and disinterested in engaging with the community or potential guests.
It’s likely that you try to encourage positive customer service in the workplace, but the same rules apply online. People expect responses to their questions, booking requests or complaints and they expect it fast. You wouldn’t leave a question or query unanswered in person, so you shouldn’t online! Consider your social media platforms an extension of your customer service. This means replying to reviews, whether they be good or bad. If you are faced with bad reviews, be sure to rectify the problem as much as possible by being apologetic and understanding.
By all accounts, 2020 will undoubtedly see the continued fusion between social media and customer service. Instead of emailing your restaurant or leaving google reviews, guests will turn to your social media to make bookings, ask questions and leave recommendations. If you struggle to find the time to consistently check your inbox, perhaps consider a simple chatbot to answer FAQ’s or make waiting users aware that you will respond ASAP.
Considering that 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend them to family & friends, it is vital to spend valuable time on your social media customer service.
They want you to ask questions.
We don’t have to tell you again that social media must be social & engaging. The clue is in the name! Leading on from responsiveness, customers also expect to be entertained and engaged by your restaurants content. The more that they are, the more likely they are to make a visit.
As well as customer service, your restaurant needs to offer online customer care. Great customer care requires maintaining a strong & positive relationship with your online community. This means going above and beyond to provide entertaining responses to comments and reviews. Simply sharing your guests’ posts and stories concerning your restaurant will also help. We’ve already discussed the ever-important 80/20 rule of social media in another article - provoking conversations and asking questions is a sure-fire way to engage with your audience and establish great customer care.
This doesn’t require any extensive time or effort. Thankfully, restaurants have a wide range of different options available to them when trying to engage with their guests. Ask your guests about their favourite dish on posts or get them involved by asking what they want to see on the menu. Stories are an excellent way to make use of interactive questions and polls. Show your guests why being a part of your online community is so great by offering behind the scenes footage, contests & reveals. Providing your guests who follow you online with an element of exclusivity & involvement will guarantee high levels of interaction, engagement and customer care.
They want video.
This is a point many restaurant owners and marketers know, but few decide to act upon. This is mainly due to the perceived cost of producing high quality video or the fear of not creating good video content. Considering the continued importance attached to video content, your restaurant cannot afford not to use it for social media in 2020.
But fear not, your guests do not expect high-quality content. Unless you’re a premium/luxury brand, it’s likely that they’d prefer the home-made approach to video rather than the expensive, planned & edited approach. You see, social media users yearn for authenticity. They want to connect with your content. This is easier if the content doesn’t look overly polished or well shot. Real-time video content makes your products look more believable and your content more relatable. Users will think: “If their dish looks THAT good shot on an iPhone, that’s how it must look in real life.”
There’s an understandable stigma in the F&B industry that food in high-quality photos and videos are often unrealistic, and consumers have clocked on to this. But by giving your restaurant guests an informal look into your REAL dishes, they will likely trust your restaurant & dishes much more. Video is a great way to do this.
They want transparency.
Following on from the theme of trust, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and all other social media users want your restaurant to be more transparent online. Crucially, Instagram’s 2019 F&B report notes transparency as one of the big key social media trends for the industry:
‘As audiences become more curious about the food they eat they are looking for greater transparency from brands at the same time.’
But what do we mean by transparent?
Being transparent means being open, honest and relatable. As mentioned, guests no longer want to only see the final polished image of your products. They demand to see what exactly goes into their food, how it is made and who is making it. As such, 2020 should be dominated by user-generated content and authentic real-time pictures/videos.
Instagram analysts rightfully point out that:
‘perfectly positioned food should work in tandem with real stories. Consumers want real stories that make them feel part of the whole experience...Whilst aspirational food imagery creates appetite appeal, the real narratives that sit behind these perfect-looking creations add a human element.’
This should be good news for every restaurant on social media. Keep your content engaging and your pictures natural, and you are doing everything that your guests want from you online. Reposted user-generated content (that offer an authentic, unbiased look into a dish) naturally perform very well and yield great results. The evidence speaks for itself when debating whether to post unpolished content.
We hope that these 4 key expectations can help your social media plan for 2020. Remember, your online community just want you to be responsive, thought-provoking, based in real-time through video and transparent. If you need to discuss any of the above points, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for some advice!