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Social Media and the Independent Restaurant

Social Media and the Independent Restaurant

Andrew Garrison

2. For a small restaurant with a tight budget, what are some website essentials that are either missed or not used to their full potential?

Jonny: Free Tools & Resources that Every Restaurant Website Should Have There are a lot of great tools and resources out there, but there are the critical ones that every restaurant website should include.

  • Google Analytics – is a free tool by Google which allows you to see how many visitors are coming to your site, where they are coming from and much more. This is a no brainer and this will show you everything you need to know about how your users are navigating your website.


  • Google Alerts – (again) a free tool by Google that monitors information posted across the internet based on keywords that you specify. It then sends a email alert to you when it spots new content. This can be useful for tracking what’s being posted on the internet about your restaurant (or your competitors).
  • Google Local Business

  • WordPress – you’ll have to work with a web developer in getting this setup, but WordPress is a free intuitive content management tool which will allow you to make content updates to your website without having to call your web developer all the time. This is great for keeping your website up-to-date.


  • Social Media:

  • Start a Twitter Account – get your Twitter account setup and start aggregating content.

  • Start a Facebook page – go to Facebook and create a page for your restaurant. Aggregate the same content that you push out to Twitter. Post pictures and relevant information.


  • Add yourself to Yelp and Urban Spoon – you may be reluctant to do this but if you don’t do this, someone will for you. By creating it yourself you can ensure that the information is correctly represented. People will post reviews and feedback. Check back often to read what others say.


  • Website Essentials: You shouldn’t expect your restaurant website to be a common hangout for web users. The truth is that users have specific goals when going to a restaurant website and in my experience the top three things people are looking for are: 1. Menu options (and price) 2. Location 3. Pictures

    Every restaurant website should make sure they have the accounted for the following:

    Home page – this is a no brainer but it’s important to point out that this page must be properly setup. Ensure the following:

  • Utilize great imagery – don’t cut corners here. It is essential that you have near perfect images for food and atmosphere. People really pay attention to those things.


  • A nice opening intro message – this is your 30 second elevator pitch to tell the user what you’re about. This is also great for getting more traffic from search engines.


  • Your address in the footer – place this on the homepage because Google, Yahoo!, and Bing will pick this up and will sometimes add special features to your listing within search results.


  • About page – this page will act as a continuation of your 30 second elevator pitch on the home page. Great for search engines and also a way to highlight the deeper details behind the restaurant.

  • Site pictures – again, don’t cut corners here.


  • Location – people will want to find you. Don’t hide your directions or location.


  • Open Table – include a link that will allow customers to make reservations online.


  • Employment – an often overlooked visitor to a restaurant website is somebody who is looking for a job. Setting the correct expectations on your website with how to seek employment options can save a lot of headaches.


  • Fresh content – while the restaurant website is still not a very appealing place for users to hangout, adding fresh content to your site will greatly improve your standing in search engines, which will add to exposure. A great way of doing this is by either adding a blog or News & Events section.

    NOTE: Do yourself a favor and do not add music to your website. Usability studies continue to show that this is one of the most disliked features a website can have. If you have music, you can be assured that users will leave quickly or not return again.

    3. Are there any particular social media platforms that could be useful in the restaurant industry that haven’t necessarily been marketed to that niche?

    Jonny: (Not positive if this has been marketed much yet) There are so many great social media platforms and tools out there but one tool that I keep hearing more about in the restaurant industry is Guest Pulse (http://guestpulse.com/). Guest Pulse is a tool specifically for restaurant owners and managers for tracking reputation around the web and within social channels. It particularly does a good job of monitoring reviews from critics and user review sites.

    Tyler: That completely depends on context. But I guess if you want a short answer: no. As with any client, I would advise to think strategy first, tactics second. This means define your goals – preferably holistic goals based on valid, reliable data, not information that comes from silos like just the Marketing department or the CEO’s gut intuition. Then get the smartest people in the room together to define the best strategy to meet those goals. Don’t make 5-year plans, or even 1-year plans, they’re worthless. Just define what needs to be solved now. Try something, then adapt & iterate again. Then ask for feedback from everybody – not just the whiz kids – on what you might not be seeing; that’s crucial, get as many outside ideals as possible. Always heed outside counsel, that’s often where the best ideas come from. Just ask Google or 37signals.

    Next Page: Is a Facebook fan-page a Useful Marketing Tool? >>