So you own a restaurant. In my experience, a restaurant owner decides to join Twitter for one of two reasons: they’re already on Twitter, or someone told them that they need to join Twitter.
Also in my experience, the restaurant owners who join because someone tells them to, end up throwing in the towel quickly because they say they don’t “get it”. They don't get the lingo, the ecosystem and that it’s a waste of their time.
True. Twitter may very well be a waste of your time, but it’s not a waste of time for someone else at your restaurant. Here are a few quick things to think about when it comes to Twitter for restaurants.
Put someone in charge. If the account is created and no one is responsible for it, then no one will use it. If you don’t want to update your account, then don’t create it. A naked empty account is worse than none at all. If you don’t want to do it, ask your team who has an interest. You may have a very enthusiastic employee that would love to be in charge of social media.
Post photos and videos. Not every business can be visual, but a restaurant definitely can. Ask your Twitter’er to take photos and videos of the chef cooking. Interview the chef. Ask them to take photos of the specials right after they’re plated and confess how wonderful and delicious they are. An added bonus task would be to join Instagram where you can post photos and auto-post them to Twitter.
Talk to guests. Being on Twitter opens you up to praise and criticism. Someone can now @ you to tell you that their meal was awful. They can also tell you if it was wonderful. If it’s a positive response, respond to them and invite them back again soon. If it’s a negative response, handle it in the same way you would at your restaurant. When you’re on Twitter, people expect you are listening, and an ignored complaint could become very public very quickly.
Update regularly. It’s not difficult to write 140 characters, is it? That’s 28 five-letter words, or 20 seven-letter words. Update a couple times a day, but…
- … don’t spam people. Post a promotional Tweet once out of every six to ten Tweets you send. Unlike Facebook, people don’t typically follow a restaurant for discounts and coupons, they follow them for the inside scoop, like what’s happening in the kitchen. Chefs are practically celebrities to foodies, whether you realize it or not, so give them a spotlight. Even better, ask them to Tweet. If you want good ideas, read Gary Vaynerchuk's Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
Although it might sound scary opening yourself up to negative Tweets, keep in mind the wonderful viral marketing opportunities.
For example, there have been times I’ve wanted to Tweet about a wonderful restaurant. Us Twitter-savvy folk will often first look to see if you’re on Twitter, and if you are, we’re hugely likely to write a Tweet @’ing you and singing you from the rooftops.
If you’re not on Twitter, we’re less likely to do it. I don’t know why, we just like to @ the people we talk about, and we also like to @ the businesses we talk about. The benefit to us is that when we @ you, we’re also providing our followers with an active link to your profile where they can find out more, like location, website, etc. Otherwise it’s on us to try and squish all that data into 140 characters.
So give Twitter. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make on Twitter is being too stiff. Let loose, speak in first person, and take photos. I know that sounds simplistic, but those are the crucial first steps.
One other thing; Don’t ever, ever say something negative about a customer. Yes, that happens too.