Creating a Facebook Page for Your Restaurant to Stand Out from the Crowd

[feat-text]Regardless of the size of your restaurant or chain of restaurants, having Facebook and Instagram accounts are as important – if not more important – as having TV ads or sponsoring local events. [/feat-text]

Through incredible marketing tactics such as using pixel remarketing, ads, and organic content, you can quickly gain an edge on your competition and forge meaningful relationships with your followers.

But that all assumes you follow a few key tenets when it comes to mastering Facebook marketing for restaurants.

For starters, take Facebook marketing seriously

It’s not uncommon for restaurants to hand off social media management responsibilities to a young employee on staff or, perhaps, a college student “majoring in marketing.”

We get it – it makes total sense to look to your youngest employees to manage your social identity, doesn’t it?

No, not really. Ask yourself this: would you dish out total marketing responsibilities to that same employee? Would you trust this person to talk with prospects, nurture leads, establish partnerships with local businesses and respond to criticism?

Social media marketing is serious marketing. It’s another channel from which you can project your brand. It requires far more than just quick posts and quirky images.

Restaurants require a digital marketing strategy. It requires forethought and an understanding of the direction you want your brand headed.

Be authentic

Our digital advertising company almost left this item off the list because we’re tired of that buzzword: authenticity. Of course, buzzwords become buzzwords for a reason. In this instance, being genuine is key to social media success.

It isn’t about pushing your menu all the time. It’s not about highlighting the big sale. It’s about peeling back the curtain and letting your audiences know the people behind the restaurant. This is particularly important with your organic posts. Social posting is about having a conversation.

They merely posted a picture of a car in their lot (a mighty full lot, we should add, meaning they’re likely pretty popular!).

When it comes to your digital marketing advertising strategies, that’s when you want to push your menus and promotions.

This careful mix of self-promotion and conversation will build your audience while ensuring those audiences actually convert from time to time.

Become a guru of the glass

This is our fancy way of saying – learn how to take good pictures.

Ansel Adams – the famous black-and-white photographer, would marvel at the power of the cameras we hold in the palms of our hands, masked as phones. There’s virtually no excuse for taking poor quality images.

But here are a few tips to consider:

  • Consider using angles otherwise ignored
  • Be mindful of the background of your images
  • Don’t over-filter

Just look at this incredible image from Atlanta-based The Varsity (their restaurant is in the backdrop, as well as inverted within the globe). Social media has made us all hooked on instant gratification, and quick to hit publish. But each image you publish on behalf of your business should be reviewed and, when possible, edited.

If you subscribe to Adobe’s Photoshop/Lightroom Creative Cloud plan, you can actually edit your images on your phone – via the Lightroom mobile app (which is incredibly powerful).

Resist vanity metrics

Let’s be honest: Vanity and social media go hand in hand. Still, when it comes to assessing the value of your restaurant reputation management strategy, certain metrics simply don’t tell the whole story.

Namely, most restaurant (and business) owners we know become obsessed with the number of followers they have.

That’s not important.

What’s important is how engaged your existing followers are. It is far more important to have a smaller number of people who actually engage with your content than it is to have a large group of people who ignore your every post.

Involve your community

One of the toughest concepts for our clients to understand is that their best marketing doesn’t come from them; it actually comes from their customers. It’s a lot like how word of mouth is far more powerful than an ad found on TV; user-generated content is the holy grail of social media marketing.

How can you use this as you market your restaurant on Facebook?

Fortunately, Instagram makes this really easy. Since Instagram and FB are social media siblings, it’s quick and easy to connect your IG and FB accounts. One of the reasons you’d want to do that (aside from posting IG pictures right to your FB page – minus all those hashtags) is so you can share others’ content to your FB page

IG allows your patrons to tag you with their images. It’s what happened here with NYC restaurant Tavern on the Green.

An IG user posted this shot – and tagged the restaurant. The social media manager for Tavern on the Green then took that image and shared it on their FB page.

Make sure to monitor your brand mentions across the web and social media so you, too, can take advantage of this easy user-generated content.

You might also want to incorporate some campaigns to encourage your followers to get involved. “Name our next dish” is a pretty popular strategy.

Tell your story – beyond the food

Let’s say, for example, that your restaurant touts its locally sourced organic food, from farmers nearby. Why, then, would you only highlight the food? Why not include posts, images, videos and stories about the people who bring the food to your tables?

This goes back to being authentic but raises it to a whole new level: think beyond food. If your restaurant was a person, what kind of person would he or she be? Personify your brand so you can create a social identity.

For example, perhaps your establishment is known to be the place sports teams go to celebrate after a win.

Great! Own that role! Take photos of these teams coming to your place. Better yet, once in a while go to the games and show your support (then share it on Facebook).

Believe it or not, people don’t just come to you for the food. They come for the experience. Help them to understand this experience through your FB page.

Organic is just one aspect – invest in your FB page

Don’t be afraid to invest in ads on Facebook. We’re certain that if you create a targeted ad, focused on a selective group of prospects, you’ll see some incredible returns.

Do you have a newsletter list? If so, you can upload that list to FB to create a custom audience. That way, you can create an ad “exclusive to your newsletter members.” You can then create an ad to non-newsletter members (who follow your page), that encourages them to join your list to get exclusive deals.

You can also use remarketing. Let’s say, for example, someone visits a page on your site that focuses on catering services for business lunches. You can then create an ad on FB that targets these folks with an ad that reminds them of your services. The more they see the ad on FB, the more likely they’ll eventually convert when they need to schedule a business lunch.

Go for the gold

Your Facebook Page is a goldmine of marketing possibilities. Nearly every one of your target audiences – and their friends and family members – have a Facebook account. The average person checks in on FB at least a handful of times each day.

By creating a page built around both organic and paid marketing strategies for your restaurant, you can build a community that your prospective patrons will want to be a part of – both on social media and in real life.

Embrace the Season of Instagram – Shift Your Restaurant Marketing into Summer Mode

[feat-text]Instagram may not be taking over the world, but it sure feels like it is. Instagram has become the place for “cool” brands to make a name for themselves. [/feat-text]

And when it comes to restaurants, if you’re not on Instagram, you’re not doing social media right. With a presence on Instagram, your restaurant can post great menu item shots, share behind-the-scene videos, and lest we forget, your patrons can tag you and check in, thus furthering your brand reach.

It really is a can’t lose social media strategy for restaurants.

But as impactful as Instagram can be for restaurants, the only way to really get the most bang for your buck is to design specific paid campaigns for the image-based platform, especially as summer comes into full swing.

We’re not suggesting you’ll get more engagement in the summer, on Instagram, than you would in the winter (or any other season). But the tips and examples we outline below do represent a few quick-win ideas to help you build your presence and following.

And, regardless, Instagram was made for summer. Sunshine. Bright colors. People being active. Your restaurant would do well to jump on the IG bandwagon.

Here’s how to make it happen.

Go on get hashtag happy!

If you want to jump on the summer Instagram wagon, then the platform is more than happy to help make it happen.

In a post this past spring, Get Ready, Summer’s Around the Corner, the folks at Instagram break down a few of the most impactful hashtags to use, including:

  • #beach
  • #summer
  • #summertime
  • #sun
  • #summervibes
  • #summer2017
  • #hot
  • #fun
  • #summerdays

First and foremost, it’s important to realize your posts don’t have to be obvious summer-related posts. Take, for example, this food-based post shared from a dinner at Restaurant Da Michelangelo in Switzerland:

It’s not overtly about summer, but it does display a few types of food and drink folks might want to enjoy during the summer.

How else could you use these top hashtags to promote your own restaurant? #Summervibes, for example, could be used to show off a picture of your outdoor seating, or an iced drink or cold treat.

The possibilities are essentially endless and, as a result, potentially overwhelming. That’s why our digital marketing company suggests that you test as much as possible. For each season, including summer, try out Instagram’s seasonally-based popular hashtags and see if they result in an engagement boost.

Keep using the tags that do help, that way you’re not flooding each post with 100+ hashtags.

Taking your hashtags to the next level

Using summer-obvious hashtags in your posting will certainly help gain traction for your brand; however, you can take your hashtag game to a whole new level and connect with different personas whom you’re targeting for your restaurant.

Let’s take, for example, women looking to fit into – or stay comfortable in – their bathing suits. These women want to enjoy summer – including all that food and drink – but are also mindful of the calories involved.

Does your restaurant offer carb-free meals? Why not feature that meal in an Instagram post and add hashtags like #SayNotoCarbs and explain how you made a meal look this good, without traditional ingredients.

What other ways can you use a summer slant with your business? #FatFree, #SummerSpecial, #KidsEatFree – try them all!

What we’d suggest is don’t get hung up necessarily by the popularity of a hashtag. The more posts associated with a hashtag is a good thing because it means a lot of people are using that tag; however, it also means there’s a lot of competition.

Our SEO advertising department in recommends employing a mix of hashtags, based on the weight they carry. While we suggest always including a hashtag that has at least tens of thousands of posts associated with it and/or is trending, we also suggest looking for hashtags with a few thousand and, in fact, a few hundred posts.

It’s easy to do in Instagram, using their search toolbar.

Support hashtags with images that rock

The next tactic we recommend you employ is to really assess what menu items in your restaurant fall under the category of “Summer Eats” (#summereats, by the way, is a good hashtag to use as well, with 70,000+ posts attached to it).

Check out this array of food shots that all scream summer.

Food like corn, BBQ, cold pasta, seafood, roasted vegetables, and, of course, frozen treats are all but impossible for Instagram users to scroll past without pausing.

In other words, as important as it is to find, and use, the right hashtags to garner traffic, that traffic will scroll right past your posts if you’re not using the right type of images.

Offer tips inside your posts

You’ve got the right images; you found the best hashtags, so you’re good to go, right?

Not necessarily.

Instagram is currently flooded with food shots that barely offer any type of information aside from a flurry of hashtags.

Why not use your posts for something more user-friendly?

Take, for example, that image above. @garlicandzest included a link to the recipe for this post. Problem is, Instagram doesn’t make that link clickable.

Why not, instead, add the entire recipe inside the post itself?

So, for example, your chef could introduce a simple #summereats BBQ menu idea to your followers. Take a photo of the final product, then outline the recipe in your post (don’t forget the hashtags).

Then, take it even further and create an Instagram Story that outlines the recipe in action.

Now that is a great user experience.

Good for summer; but useful all year long

Instagram is a fantastic social platform to keep your restaurant’s branding alive during the summertime lull, but truth be told, your restaurant should be using Instagram in its digital advertising strategy all year long.

Adapt these tips above to each season, from hashtags to types of food shown, and we’re confident you’ll build an impressive stable of IG followers who are more inclined to become die-hard fans.

Make an Offer They Can’t Resist – Lead Magnet Marketing for Your Restaurant

[feat-text]A key part of a successful digital marketing strategy for restaurants is increasing the number of conversions you get from your leads. Sure, web traffic is great – but what good is that traffic if few visitors to your site actually move onto the next step? [/feat-text]

There are a ton of online resources that help you “improve your conversion rates,” including A/B testing tactics like changing the image on your landing page, changing the color of your button, and altering headline content.

All of these changes certainly can help, and A/B testing will let you know which approach is more effective. However, maximizing your conversion rate isn’t just about tweaking colors and changing the copy.

Maximizing your conversion is about reciprocity.

By reciprocity what we mean is that when you give your visitors a great offer, they’ll be more likely to do something for you.

They’ll feel obliged to give back. When it comes to digital marketing for your restaurant, what that means is they’ll be compelled to complete whatever lead generation action you’ve put into place.

Here’s how to establish this type of relationship in just a few key steps.

Get to know your website visitors

Making a valuable lead magnet means knowing what type of information your audience wants and needs.

Remember: your visitors have come to your site with some specific purpose in mind – whether that’s to gather advice or make some type of purchase.

Fortunately for you, the online behavior of your audiences can provide you this type of direction. A tool like Google AdWords Keyword Planner will show you the volume for keyword phrases that people are searching for, and find related suggestions.

But don’t just stop there. Other tools, like Buzzsumo, allow you to see trend-worthy topics that people are talking about and sharing. We love to use Buzzsumo to help us focus on valuable lead-magnet content we know audiences will want to consume.

In the screenshot above, there are quite the number of interesting topics worth considering for a lead magnet (if you’re a pizza-focused establishment). For example, you could use the article about Gordon Ramsay shutting down the pineapple pizza debate to create a lead magnet called: The Pineapple Pizza Debate: Where Do You Stand?

The last tool we recommend you regularly monitor is your Google Analytics – the data housed there will show you your most clickable content and can determine what your existing visitors already value.

Offer a resource your audiences will find useful

Now that you know what type of information your audience is interested in, you’re ready to create a lead-generation magnet that speaks to their needs.

Consider what type of magnet would be most useful to your readers? Is it a webinar? A research report? A tip sheet? A tool?

When it comes to your restaurant, our research and studies show that exclusive offers – or the promise of exclusive offers – carry the most weight.

The restaurant, Galliford’s, is promising not only unique promos and offers but also a weekly free appetizer drawing. To top it all off, they’re calling their subscribers VIPs, which adds to the allure.

Of course, there’s no reason to just settle on coupons and discounts. Above we talked about a potential lead magnet titled “The Pineapple Pizza Debate: Where Do You Stand?” Magnets like this help create a persona for your brand. If the magnet (be it a video, a slideshow, etc.) was designed professionally, could be viewed on any screen, and was packed with witty humor, then there’s a good chance it’ll convert visitors into leads and make those leads fall in love with your brand.

Above all else, make sure that the landing page where your lead magnet is housed is designed cleanly and obvious. Visitors should know what the offer is and what they’ll get if they convert.

Sell your lead magnet offer

Once you create your lead magnet, now it’s time to market that offer to the masses. Facebook ads are a great way to reach a highly-targeted audience and pique their interest. According to recent Pew research, 79% of online adults use Facebook, and login multiple times per day.

Use that to your advantage.

Create a series of eye-catching social media posts that funnel readers to your restaurant landing page. But don’t just stop there. Create smaller pieces of related content (articles, infographics, etc.) to promote as well. For example, the Galliford’s VIP offer could be promoted with a video montage of past free appetizer winners, with a call-to-action at the end of the video (and in the social post) urging folks to sign up.

Our last bit of advice is this: don’t just run through this process once. Most lead magnet offers for restaurants are timeless (for example, patrons can always become VIP members; there is no shelf-life). Make sure to schedule time every quarter to create a new marketing plan for your magnet. But rather than recycle the same old strategy from before, use the results of your past campaigns to optimize and fine-tune your next approach.

That way you continue to generate more and more leads that will one day become your lifelong patrons.

Remarketing for Restaurant Chains – Keep Your Brand Name Top-of-Mind

[feat-text]The majority of people who surf the web and land on your website aren’t ready to make a conversion in that exact moment. And just one brief encounter with your brand isn’t enough to make your restaurant chain come to mind the moment these prospects are ready to go out to eat. [/feat-text]

That’s why big-name brands spend tens of thousands of dollars on TV ads. They know that in order to build an audience, they have to expose these prospects to their brand over and over again.

But with more and more people turning to the web to consume content and entertain themselves, how can you follow that same TV ad premise across digital channels?

The answer is remarketing.

Remarketing – also called retargeting – is a technique used to strategically place ads across the web to reach prospects who have visited your website but have yet to make a conversion. These ads are known to follow users around the Internet, popping up on pages they browse, serving as a digital reminder that the user has expressed some interest in your brand in the past.

Below we’ll discuss how you can implement this technique for your brand, as well as show you how to alter it slightly to speak to your wider audience of prospects.

Hitting home an offer

For starters, we find it useful for our clients to use social media advertising as the engine to get this machine running.

Let’s say, for example, that your chain is offering a free drink offer to patrons. You decide to promote the offer on social media with an ad that funnels users to a specific landing page on your restaurant’s website.

That landing page has a form or call to action that allows visitors to download their coupon code for a free drink.

By using a remarketing pixel on this page, you’ll be able to determine which visitors converted and which did not.

Those who did convert are likely to come into your restaurant to redeem their coupon; there’s no need to follow up with them in this instance. What you want to do is try to get the attention of the folks who did not convert for some reason.

When creating ads for this segment, our online marketing department recommends perhaps promoting a different offer you have (seeing as your drink promotion didn’t cause your visitors to convert) or adding a sense of urgency to your ad: Get Your Free Drink Before It’s Too Late!

With this standard approach to remarketing, the formula can be reused for each of your offers:

Promote Offer with Ad on Social Media > Send Folks Who Click on Ad to Landing Page on Your Site > Create a Remarketing Pixel that Measures Folks Who Did Not Convert > Target Them With Follow Up Ads


When you just want to be top of mind

When it comes to your restaurant chain, you can take the remarketing approach slightly differently. You don’t always have to measure conversions to make your ad appear across the web to folks who came to your site.

It’s perfectly fine – in your instance – to create a remarketing ad that targets all of your past website visitors, even if you don’t have a specific online conversion (like a downloadable coupon) to measure.

In this case, you’re essentially using remarketing as a digital billboard. Rather than drivers seeing your billboard every day as they go to and from work (or wherever) they’ll see your ad as they go to and from their digital channels.

As a result, you have a lot more leeway in your ad language. We’d still recommend promoting special offers, as they tend to deliver the best possible ROI, but now you have the flexibility to change this offer throughout the year.

There are, of course, two issues with this blanket approach to remarketing:

  1. You aren’t using targeted language because you’re not advertising to a narrowed list of prospects. This can result in lower conversion rates.
  2. You risk annoying your prospects over time or falling victim to ad blindness.

Let’s delve into #2 a little further. When you create remarketing campaigns around conversions, then once that conversion is made (such as a prospect going to your landing page and downloading the coupon) you can trigger the ad to stop showing.

That makes sense – you’ve accomplished your goal.

But when you’re not measuring conversions, you’re not striving for any particular goal. You merely want to keep your brand top-of-mind through repetitive ad exposure.

Over time, this could work against you. Either your visitors will grow annoyed that your ad keeps flooding their web pages, or if you don’t mix up your ads from time to time, your prospects might subconsciously ignore the messaging.

If you take this non-conversion-focused approach to remarketing, our digital marketing agency recommends you create time limits for each ad. Every month or two pause your campaign or drastically change the look and design of the ad to avoid having your campaigns do more harm than good.

Creating ads based on page visits

This last tactic isn’t focused on conversions but isn’t as blanketed as the strategy above. In this approach, you’ll install remarketing pixels on each of your landing pages.

There may be a number of reasons why a prospect comes to your site. They could have seen an ad on social media. They might have come through organic means. But, in the end, what you care about with this strategy is which page the visitor came to.

Let’s say, for example, you have a landing page on your website specific to appetizers and a visitor spends some time on that page. It would make sense, then, to create a remarketing ad that targets this visitor with appetizer-based advertising.

In other words, you’re continuing the conversation with this prospect in an effort to nurture the relationship.

Creating the pixels – and ads – for this strategy is actually the easy part. The challenge is ensuring that your website is structured in a way that allows you to segment your audience based on the pages they visited.

There is no one solution to this challenge. It depends entirely on your niche and offering. But you might consider developing landing pages for each type of food you offer (drinks, desserts, appetizers, sandwiches, soups, salads, etc.), as well as for every single promotion you have (happy hour, 25-cent wings on Mondays, half-off appetizers on Sundays, etc.).

The more segmentation you do with your landing pages, the easier it is for you to create highly specific ads targeted at the mindset of your visitors.

Remarketing is never ending – and you want it to be

The important thing to remember about remarketing is that it’s not a set-it-forget-it kind of marketing strategy for your restaurant. You want to be constantly vigilant about the type of messaging your prospects see, when they see it and, how often they see it.

When used effectively, remarketing can help keep your brand name top-of-mind for your prospects at those moments in the day when they’re hungry and looking for a place eat.

Use Your Restaurant’s Email Lists to Supercharge Your Facebook Ads

[feat-text]Ever since we as mere mortals have had access to Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool (thanks to Power Editor), marketers and brands have been looking for ways to make the most of this incredible power. [/feat-text]

If you still aren’t sure what Custom Audiences are, basically this is a way for you to target your customers/patrons in Facebook ads, even if they don’t follow your Page. This is a great paid marketing strategy for restaurants.

To create a Customer Audience in Power Editor, click on “Audiences”, then “Create Audiences” and select “Custom Audience.”

create custom facebook audience

Facebook will then ask you how you want to create this Custom Audience. You have a few options to choose from, but seeing as many restaurants and foodservice brands find success when building out their email lists, we thought it useful for you to learn how to use your contact lists to boost your Facebook ads.

So, for our purposes today, you’ll want to choose Customer File, which will lead you to this dialog box:

add customers to audience

Choose the option that best matches your needs. If you choose to upload a file, then you’ll use either the CSV or TXT format. For your email list, it’s best to use just one column in your file, with that column including just the email address of your customers/patrons.

Facebook will then go on to do what it does, which is to generate a list of Facebook users who are also on your email list, and this will become your new Custom Audience. Our digital marketing department recommends naming this new Custom Audience something easy to recognize (Email Subscribers, perhaps) as you’ll reference this name in the future.

Creating this Custom Audience group is pretty simple to do, but what are you going to do with it once you create this audience? Glad you asked.

1. Increase your Page Likes

One of the first things you should do once you have your new Custom Audience list created is to increase your Page Likes.

You already know that the people on your email list likely have some interest in your restaurant and branding. Now you just need to get as many of them as possible to like your Page (if they don’t already) so that you can stay top-of-mind with them.

Here’s how to make that happen when choosing your Audience for your ad:

Within Power Editor:

  1. Exclude your current Fans from targeting for this ad
  2. Add your email list to the targeting

To exclude your current fans, so that they don’t have to endure your ads in your News Feed, you’ll see a CONNECTIONS area in Power Editor’s Audience screen. You want to enter your Page name within the text box for “Target users who are not already connected to …”

add connections to audience

You’ll then want to click the “Advanced” link within the Audience setup and enter the name of your newly created Custom Audience that represents your email list.

Now your ad will target everyone on your email list who isn’t already a fan of your Page.

So, now that the backend is done, what type of ad should you create? Our recommendation is to create a standard Page Like ad that drives users to a landing tab on your Page where you offer something of value in exchange for a Like.

For example, you could say that your restaurant offers exclusive discounts and promotions to Facebook followers only.

2. Extend the reach of your posts

Facebook is a great social media tool for restaurants of all sizes and specialties. The platform allows you to introduce new dishes, promote seasonal specialties, feature promotions and more. But on average, your Facebook posts reach around 10-15% of your Fans, if you rely merely on organic strategies.

Chances are you’ll want to target a larger contingency of your audience, which you can do by promoting your post (hold off on clicking that Boost Post button for the moment!).

You can also target non-fans who have similar interests to your niche, as well as non-fans who are on your email list.

First things first: promote a post. The Objective screen in Facebook’s Power Editor makes it really simple to choose what purpose you have for your ad:

choose your objective

You’ll then be taken to your Ad Set screen, which includes the option to target certain audiences.

target audience with ad set

Follow the same exact process you did for example #1 above to target non-fans who are on your list. The result is you’ll reach more people who are already interested in seeing your content (they signed up for your email list). As your ads and posts show up on their News Feeds, you can expect them to start liking your Page.

3. Target users who are similar to your email subscribers

Restaurants’ digital marketing strategies often benefit from pretty hefty-sized email lists. Unlike any other industry out there, your potential customers are more willing to exchange their contact information for the chance of knowing upcoming restaurant promotions or deals than they are for other brands.

If you have a pretty good-sized email list but want to target an even larger group of people (or are just looking to get exposed to new people) then you can do this by creating Lookalike Audiences.

While you aren’t specifically targeting your email list in this type of ad, you are using that list to target other Facebook users who are like your current contacts.

To create a Lookalike Audience, you’ll want to click on “Create New” underneath Custom Audiences in your Power Editor:

custom audiences

From there, you’ll choose Lookalike Audiences, which will take you here:

create lookalike audience

For Location, choose the United States, or whichever country you want to optimize the ad targeting for.

But for the SOURCE, here’s where you’ll type in the name of the Custom Audience you created that contains your contacts.

It really is as simple as that. Now you can create an ad to get Page Likes, extend the reach of your posts, or promote a deal, discount or more.

Using these tips above will allow your ads to do so much more for you than simply boosting a post to your existing followers and fans.

Facebook Advertising for Restaurants – Getting it Picture Perfect

[feat-text]Facebook advertising is now one of the most effective – and, as a result, most competitive – strategies to reach your prospects directly where they spend the most time. If you want to grow with digital marketing your restaurant’s reach and brand recognition, then you must invest in Facebook advertising.[/feat-text]

But just because you throw a few dollars into a Facebook budget doesn’t mean your ad will be seen, acknowledged, and clicked-on by your target audiences. The average Facebook news feed is cluttered with information, including posts from friends and pitches from businesses. If you want your ad to stand out in the fray, then it’s time to focus on the pictures.

Here are 5 tips to help you pick the best, possible pictures to bring your Facebook ads to live for your restaurant.

1. Invest in quality images

Facebook – and social media for that matter – has the tendency of inspiring all of us to share ‘in-the-moment’ photos we take from our phones. Some of these photos look great – many do not. While the quality of your images may not matter on your personal feed, when it comes to your restaurant’s official FB page, it matters a great deal.

Invest the time into taking quality photographs of your food and your restaurant. Your smartphone can, in fact, take these pictures, but you may also want to invest in a more professional camera, a tripod, and some lighting.

If you can’t hire a professional photographer, our digital marketing company suggests you dub one or two people on staff as your go-to photographers. Encourage them to hone their craft and praise them for their quality work.

2. Choose engaging subjects and composition

When it comes to paid advertising for restaurants, your main goal is to get people to take some sort of action, right? Your ad’s image is the anchor that will get these folks to stop in their tracks and read what your ad actually says.

Make sure your ad’s image is extremely engaging. The obvious – yet effective – choice is to take a high-quality shot of one of your signature dishes. There’s a reason why food shots are among the most popular on Instagram – people love looking at delicious food!

But don’t just assume that a standard food photo is your best bet for your ad. Remember, you’re trying to get people to engage with your ad. That’s why if, and whenever possible, try to incorporate people into your ad images.

This can be tricky because a photograph of someone eating doesn’t necessarily make for an effective ad. The most effective type of image will show people enjoying themselves while in your restaurant.

3. Minimalistic is the best approach

Avoid incorporating a cluttered composition in your image – instead of taking a picture of several meals on a table, focus on just one. Also, try not to use any small text on your image. There’ll be plenty of places in your ad to use text (your headline, summary, link description). Leave most of the messaging aspect of your ad to the text sections, and use images that are strong, simple and compelling.

4. Choose bright, colorful images

Remember – your ad needs to stand out in a busy news feed that your audience swipes through at a dizzying pace. Colorful, bright images have been shown to catch your readers’ attention and have them inspect your ad a little closer.

5. Test your images

Above all else, test your images to see which ones your audience likes. Each business – and target market – is unique. You’ll never quite know which ad images to use unless you test several out.

Does your audience respond better when images have text or no text? Do they seem to convert more with images involving people or just your food? Only the data will really tell.

Testing your images is fairly simple. Just get started selecting some images you feel represent your brand and will appeal to your audience. Start running these ads for a couple of weeks and before you know it, you’ll have invaluable information to help you optimize your future ad campaigns.

Choosing the right FB images for your restaurant ads

The copy that you include in your ad will dictate whether readers will click on or not. But no one will ever spend the time reading your ad if your image doesn’t pull them in. Choose high-quality images that are bright, minimalistic, and engaging, and you’ll almost certainly see an uptick in views and conversions. But, in the end, make sure you learn something new for each ad you run, to improve the performance for your future ads.

How Your QSR Can Grow Your Franchise Locations Through Paid Social Ads

[feat-text]The restaurant industry is growing at a tremendous rate, with ad spending in this space outpacing the overall ad market, according to Ad Age. [/feat-text]

And with more and more folks using social networks like Facebook, if you want to reach your audiences, you have to play the social ad game.

But it takes so much more than just tossing a few dollars toward a campaign to make a splash. Here’s how your franchise can grow each of its locations with paid social ads. This is literally what our digital marketing department does for clients.

Understanding how to approach paid social ads

Most QSRs don’t look at paid social ads as their main course; rather, they use it as a special ingredient, for tactical purposes. That’s because paid social advertising for franchises is often transaction focused – designed to compel consumers to click through to your site to make a purchase or take another type of action – things that a customer usually doesn’t do on a QSR chain’s website.

But that doesn’t mean QSRs have to lose out on the returns that paid social ads can deliver.

Use the local data of social to create personalized experiences

social-media-networksSocial networks like Facebook have built their entire platforms on the concept of local.

Think of how often you “check in” on Facebook. These check-ins not only tell Facebook where you’re located at that exact moment, but they also tell the social network the types of actions you take and establishments you frequent.

As a QSR brand, this type of information is invaluable. Facebook’s analytics can help you target audiences that have recently visited or “liked” one of your competitors. You can then create an ad that compares your price points to that brand.

Analytics can also help you target audiences based on actions they’ve made. For example, you can target local audiences that have recently checked in at a golf resort with an ad that uses some type of spin on golf.

Capture your local audiences in real time

Mobile devices have made it possible to target your audiences in the moment, and social media is king of the real-time strategy.

Your audiences – across all of your locations – constantly check their phones while in line at the market, while at a stop sign, while at the bar, and so on.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to target your audiences in the now. This can be tricky for multi-location QSRs that manage their franchise digital marketing from the corporate HQ level, but it is possible.

Let’s say, for example, you create a campaign that will advertise promotions based on the weather. You can then implement automated advertising that will trigger your ads when certain parameters are met.

An example would be your ad for ice cream might trigger in Atlanta when the temperature reaches 90 degrees, while your ad for hot chili will trigger in Boston when the temperature dips below 32.

You can create excitement for this ongoing campaign by adding language to your ad, such as: “Each time Atlanta hits 90, enjoy 10% off any ice cream flavor of your choice.”

This type of personalized advertising can help you build an army of seasonal devotees who are eyeing the mercury waiting for the chance at a discounted offer.

Advertise your online ordering

papa-johnThe food industry is currently shifting towards online delivery for QSR chains. While you might think of pizza QSRs as the leader of this field (Papa Johns), other niches are getting in on the game as well, including Five Guys Burgers and Fries. They offer easy online ordering, which is one of the reasons why they’re leading the way in the burger category for QSRs.

They then promote their offer through social ads that are timed to fill the social media streams of qualified audiences when these audiences are most likely to convert (say, before the big football game, or just before dinner time).

As you develop an online ordering system to promote, keep in mind that technology is constantly evolving. Beyond internet ordering, you may want to add (and promote) the ability to order via Twitter, smart TVs, smart watches, text messaging and more.

Know what your audiences crave

qsr-beverageDoes your QSR sell desserts or all-day breakfast? Either of these types of menu items are widely popular with online audiences, making them ideal categories to invest in with your advertising.

But even if your QSR doesn’t offer either item, beverages play a very important role for consumers deciding which restaurant to visit.

The key here is to use price-point advertising to attract patrons. This includes value meals, two-for-one deals, and short-term price promotions.

According to a recent Technomic report, more than 1/3 of ad spending for QSR restaurants contains pricing points, with some advertisers enjoying a higher than 50% return for that portion of ad spending.

Speak the language of social audiences

While paid search and paid social strategies for franchises follow similar rules in terms of crafting ad copy, designing landing pages, and harnessing analytics, there is a fundamental difference in how you approach your marketing.

Social media audiences are far more inclined to demand entertaining content vs. audiences searching on Google.

They’re also less interested in advertisements that look and sound like, well, advertisements. Regardless of the social ad strategy you implement, remember to hold onto a fun, conversational tone and you should see some impressive results with your investment.

5 QSR Growth Hacks to Quickly and Easily Manage Your Brand’s Reputation

[feat-text]Every business owner needs to pay special attention to the online reputation of its brand. But few industries are as impacted by the onslaught of review/rating sites on the web as QSRs. [/feat-text]

QSR patrons are among the quickest to hop onto Yelp to voice complaints or – hopefully – sing praises.

Prospective patrons then use these reviews to form decisions on not only whom they’ll dine with at that moment, but which QSR brands they’re most likely to forge long-lasting relationships with.

Clearly, then, if you’re a restaurant reputation management should be among your top priorities. Unfortunately, managing the reputation of a QSR has proven to be extremely challenging and time-consuming.

Just think of all the potential review/rating sites where your brand might appear. Is it feasible to expect you to monitor each and every single one?

Likely not, but without monitoring these sites, how can you ensure your brand is coming across positively to your current and prospective patrons?

Here are 5 reputation management growth hacks that our digital marketing agency uses.

HARO is Your Hero

If your QSR is being ravaged by negative – or few – reviews, reaching out to local (or national) media is a great way to get your message out. HARO – or Help a Reporter Out – is a quick and easy way to establish yourself as an authority figure in your niche.

HARO makes it easy for you to interact with journalists who are looking for industry experts to help them with their research and articles.

In what way can you offer expertise that put your QSR in the spotlight positively? Once you establish that, all you have to do is sign up to HARO using your email address. You can then browse their daily emails, which feature requests from journalists searching for experts in certain business industries.

If you reach out to enough people and offer your expertise, there’s a good chance you’ll get covered in the media, which in turn can evolve into positive pages online, all featuring your brand. The media sites where your brand will be mentioned are typically owned by media companies that enjoy high Google SERP rankings, thanks to their authority.

Even if you have negative reviews on popular sites like Yelp, these highly ranked references to your QSR could help soften the blow.

Create reward systems for your team

One of the best ways to combat negative reviews and become more attractive to potential patrons is to cultivate as many positive reviews as possible.

Why not get your staff involved?

Introduce an incentive program that rewards the employees who get the most customers to leave reviews.

The reward could be anything you feel your team would strive to win, including:

  • A paid day off
  • The chance to be manager for the day
  • A gift card

Prior to introducing the reward program, you’ll have to spend time crafting a guide that outlines how best to encourage customer feedback (while adhering to the rules of each ratings site). A simple “we wouldn’t mind if you left us a review” at the end of the dining experience could suffice. Some of your team members might even want to add a little “Leave us a review” card along with the bill, that outlines how to leave a review on sites like Yelp.

The reward system will create a friendly yet competitive environment within your workplace, where your team members will brainstorm ideas on how best to get their patrons to leave reviews.

Do good in the community and get noticed

our most important customer base is your local customers. These local customers tend to be well connected to their community. They attend local schools; they shop at local retailers; they even read the local newspaper.

One way to create positive connections with your local community is to get involved in charitable events (or create one yourself).

These charitable events (like food drives, races, etc.) are always covered by the local press. The more active you are for these events, the more likely these local newspapers and bloggers will cite your brand name online.

These citations will help your brand rank higher among local searches, which is far and away the most important search criteria your QSR should be concerned with.

But as an added benefit, your do-good strategy will help you build a positive relationship with local audiences – even those who have never dined at your QSR.

The next time any of these local prospects are looking for a place to dine, they’ll likely remember your brand name, connect it with the positive commitment you show to the community, and choose your QSR over your competitors.

Conduct Paid Advertising campaigns

This strategy isn’t effective in all cases, but it’s certainly a strategy worth keeping in your toolbox.

Let’s say that you notice several negative search results appearing online, thanks to negative reviews. You can conduct a Google AdWords campaign – filled with positive titles/headlines/content – where the ad leads to landing pages that focus attention on positive aspects of your QSR.

These positive messages can help drive down bad reviews on results pages, but they also allow you to directly address negative information.

This strategy requires special delicacy so that your PPC ads don’t add fuel to the fire. A good rule of thumb is to keep these ads and ensuing landing pages short and simple.

You’ll want to include your QSR name as well as all relevant keywords. When people search these terms online, they’ll see your ads.

This approach helps you to get a virtual message out there within a matter of minutes. However, this is also a short-term solution, as it can be costly and doesn’t have the lasting effects of a proactive brand management foundation.

Grab hold of your Wikipedia identity

If you can, you should try to get a Wikipedia page created for your QSR (and/or yourself). These pages almost always show up on the first page of Google when someone searches for you by brand name.

If you want your own Wikipedia page, you’ll need to have existing online articles/announcements/references on trusted third-party websites that discuss you or your company (a few or our earlier hacks should help you achieve this).

Not every QSR will qualify for a page – yet – however, this is a reputation management goal you should strive for.

Start with these hacks, but implement longer term strategies as well

These five growth hacks are designed to help you see results easily and, generally, quickly. But in addition to implementing these hacks, be sure to establish a two-pronged approach to your long-term reputation management strategy:

  • Proactive reputation management – The first three hacks fall within this approach, where you try to build positive ratings and references to your brand to outweigh any negative mentions.
  • Reactive reputation management – The paid ad hack falls within this approach, where you respond to your ratings in positive, fruitful ways. Brand monitoring is key to this approach.

Once you have these online reputation management strategies in place, even the occasional negative review about your QSR won’t stand a chance among all the positivity.

Grow Your QSR Brand with Location Level Programmatic Advertising

[feat-text]Paid search advertising greatly increases your online visibility, in a way that organic marketing efforts simply can’t offer. [/feat-text]

This is particularly true for QSR brands looking to capture audiences on a local level.

According to Google, 20% of all searches show local intent. Your organic (SEO) strategy likely optimizes your content for this local intent; however, you can guarantee high visibility and ranking by supplementing your local search campaigns with paid ads.

Many QSR marketers and owners shy away from paid search because of the pay-per-click essence of this strategy. They fear that the costs of these clicks could never pay for themselves.

However, the type of metrics, fast response, and adaptability associated with paid search makes this type of marketing your best bet to enjoy a high ROI.

And if you want to put yourself in position for an even higher ROI, it’s time to take a look at programmatic advertising.

The massive growth of programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is on track to make up $14.88 billion of the roughly $58.6 billion in digital advertising this year, according to eMarketer (a nearly $5 billion leap from 2014).

That’s a fairly incredible surge, seeing as many QSR brands have yet to hop on this trend.

Programmatic advertising makes it possible for you to automate the display buying process based on data you accumulate on users’ online behavior or customer profile. In other words, there’s no need to waste time and effort negotiating targeting types, number of impressions and price.

Programmatic advertising takes it over.

Through the use of this automation, you can show highly relevant ads to people at the right time, overwhelmingly increasing the likelihood of a click by a qualified and motivated consumer.

But how can you use this to your advantage as a QSR?

How to reach the right audiences

Our programmatic advertising agency has seen that the key to a successful campaign is the data. Fortunately, there is no shortage of data about your potential customers, including:

  • Behavior
  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • Actions taken on your site
  • Past purchase activity

You can use each (and all) of these attributes to automate display ads that are personalized to your audiences, depending on where they live or what recent behavior they’ve performed.

For example, if your QSR specializes in desserts (ice creams, for example) you could target audiences that have recently performed searches on “local ice cream shops.”

If you’re a multi-location QSR, programmatic advertising makes it simple to personalize each display ad, based on location. In other words, the ad you craft for your Atlanta location might differ in language from the ad you craft for your Boston location.

You might want to say “Looking to cool down, Hotlanta?” for your Atlanta audiences, while you might want to say “It’s wicked hot outside, isn’t it, Boston?” for your Boston Audiences.

Regardless, programmatic advertising not only makes it easy to adapt your ads, but it also simplifies (and automates) the process of sifting through and harnessing your scores of data and analytics.

Mastering the moments

Successful advertising is all about pushing your ad to the right people at the right moment. That can be difficult to do for QSRs at the corporate level, particularly if you manage multiple locations.

But with programmatic advertising, it’s a breeze to segment your campaigns based on specific moments.

One of the most popular examples involves football season. Football fans are notorious for going online just before the game (or before halftime) to order takeout or delivery. If you time your advertisement perfectly, you can grab the attention of these searchers at their most vulnerable state.

While that’s feasible to do for one location, it’s near impossible to master for multiple locations … unless you use programmatic advertising.

After you develop your football campaign, all you have to do is know when each game (where you have a store location) will be played. Programmatic advertising makes it possible for you to personalize each ad, and time their display individually, in a streamlined and fluid manner.

Programmatic advertising will reshape how your QSR targets its audience

Programmatic advertising essentially helps you handle the day-to-day tasks of ad management so that you can think bigger and focus on strategies. Rather than dedicate resources to certain negotiations, you can determine how best to reach your audiences, no matter how many locations you manage.

You can then implement programmatic advertising to take care of the data-based activities, while you monitor the results to make ongoing changes.

With so many other brands hopping on board, isn’t it time you tested our programmatic advertising for your QSR?

How to Make Sure Your Reputation on Yelp Attracts Patrons – Not Scares Them Away

[feat-text]An astounding 92% of consumers read online reviews (up from 88% in 2014), according to a recent survey by Bright Local, with restaurants being among the most popular businesses that consumers are interested in reading reviews on. [/feat-text]

By now, there are a ton of other review and rating sites out there, but the original review site – Yelp – remains the biggest.

Your restaurant’s Yelp profile has a strong impact on whether potential patrons ever walk through your doors.

With that kind of influence over your business, what can you do to make Yelp work better for your restaurant?

Claim your business on Yelp

One of the easiest – and most effective – ways to manage your Yelp presence is to claim your Yelp Business Page. This is a step that every restaurant needs to implement for its reputation management strategy.

Once you claim your business page, you’ll be able to respond to reviews with direct messages or public comments. You can also easily update and manage your business hours, contact information and more.

Claiming your business is fairly easy and straightforward. You can begin by visiting and clicking on the red “Claim your Business” button at the bottom of the page. You could also just search for your business on Yelp and claim your business from there.

Keep your recent reviews positive

Nearly 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before they form an opinion on your restaurant.

This places significant importance on your most recent reviews. If your most recent reviews are negative, then many folks won’t bother to scroll any further.

Your goal is to make sure your restaurant is seen in a positive light immediately. But, that’s a tricky goal to achieve, seeing as the nature of online reviews skews toward the negative: unhappy patrons are far more likely to air their grievances.

How do you keep your most recent reviews favorable?

Make it easy for all of your customers to provide feedback. You can do this by following up with your patrons via email or text messages, asking for their honest feedback.

And while prominently featured Yelp stickers and follow-up emails or texts help, you might also consider training your wait staff to encourage patrons to visit Yelp to provide a rating. Your wait staff knows firsthand whether patrons are having a positive or negative experience. If it’s clear that a certain party is pleased with your food, atmosphere, and service, capitalize on that by directly asking for a quick rating.

You may also want to sign up for a notification system that lets you know when a review is given low ratings (1-3 stars, for example) so that you can follow up with the reviewer. In the speed-of-light world we live in, following up with reviews as close to in real time as possible can help you combat new negative reviews that rise to the top of the heap.

It’s also important to note that old and stale reviews hold very little value to the average Yelp visitor. Bright Local’s survey suggests that 44% of Yelp users find reviews that are older than one month to be irrelevant.

By following up with your patrons, and involving your wait staff in soliciting diners who clearly had a positive experience, you can ensure that your Yelp profile is updated and, for the most part, skewed toward more favorable reviews.

Understanding why, how, and when Yelp excludes reviews

On average, 25% of all reviews are filtered out, according to Yelp.

Understanding Yelp’s formula for excluding reviews can help you better manage your presence on the platform.

For years, Yelp has faced accusations that it allows companies to pay to have negative reviews removed – accusations it has always vehemently opposed.

However, there are a variety of reasons why reviews may be excluded, including:

  • If it appears that several reviews were made from the same IP address
  • If reviews appear biased and were posted by a competitor, a disgruntled employee, or if it appears as if the business owner solicited friends or a family member

Another type of review that Yelp often excludes is a review made by a novice or infrequent contributor. In a 2013 Yelp blog, the company explained the reasoning behind this type of exclusion:

“You would probably place more weight on recommendations from people who have tried every place in town and from people whose tastes you share than recommendations from folks who rarely go out to eat, who seem like they might be too close to the owner to be unbiased, or whom you have just met and don’t know much about.”

You can also ask Yelp to consider removing reviews, but only if these reviews violate the site’s terms of service, including that:

  1. Reviewers must be at least 18
  2. Users can’t write a fake or defamatory review
  3. Businesses can’t trade a review with other businesses
  4. Businesses can’t compensate someone for writing or removing a review

Bad Yelp reviews may not be the end-all for your restaurant. Here’s why:

It’s rare – if not just plain impossible – for a frequently rated restaurant to not receive its fair share of negative comments.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Generally speaking, customers know that bad things happen to even the best businesses. In fact, they tend to be skeptical if every rating out there has 4 or 5 stars. A few less-than-favorable ratings help solidify the authenticity of your Yelp profile.

What customers can’t accept is a restaurant owner who either dismisses a negative review or comes across as arrogant in a response.

When you respond to a negative review (and you should respond to negative reviews), you have the opportunity to prove your worth and value to future prospects. They’ll assess how you handle a bad situation. If you succeed in your response, these future patrons will have the confidence that if they, too, have a negative experience, they’ll be taken care of.

Yelp is an unavoidable part of your business – embrace it to capitalize on it

Yelp is the king of online reviews and ratings. And even if you don’t create a page for your site, your patrons can do it on your behalf simply by publishing a review. Like it or not, most of your Yelp reviews are going to stay.

Rather than ignore them, work toward encouraging more of your patrons to contribute. The more positive reviews on your Yelp page, the less likely new prospects will be scared away from those inevitable low ratings by disgruntled consumers. Follow our brand reputation management tips to improve your digital marketing strategy.