When you first locked down your restaurant back in 2020, you never thought it would take this long. But here we are, halfway into 2021, managing our expenses and overheads, somehow.
Finally, it seems that COVID-19 is somewhat contained, people are getting vaccinated and you hope you’ll be able to resume operations soon. The industry is gleaming with confidence, too.
Around the world, hospitality, tourism and F&B sectors are expected to boom- after the prolonged lockdowns. Though the concerns remain, by large, people are ready to step out.
So, what should you do to make yourself appear warm and welcoming in the unlock phase? You don’t want to look dull. Right?
The best way to attract your guests is to use social media to your advantage. First, make your loyal guests crave for your dishes while they’re still in their homes while they’re contemplating if they should have their favorite plate of Biryani or Pasta at your restaurant.
But posting on Instagram or shooting videos won’t make a good impression because everyone else is doing it.
You don’t want to look like a copycat when you’ve put in too much effort in making your flavors distinct. Right?
So, here are a few content ideas you can use to engage foodies via social media handles and get your restaurant buzzing with activity post unlock:
Host a Virtual Cuisine-centric Food Fair
People love local food events – the aroma, the vibe and the tempting dishes worked like a crowd-puller before the pandemic.
Well, while you can’t wait for the fairs to get back into the local food scene (or can spend lakhs organizing a high-end event yourself), you can definitely excite and engage people by hosting a virtual food fair.
I am not joking. It’s entirely possible.
Here is how you can make it a hit even with people inside their homes:
- Create a signature menu by curating the best dishes from local cuisines.
- Launch a Facebook event and a campaign on social inviting people to sign up for the event at a specific date.
- Send ‘Foodie Bags’ (Takeaway delivery orders) to all attendees locally before your event kicks in.
- Host it live on your website, YouTube, Instagram Live and ask every attendee to feel the vibe.
- Arrange live music in your premises which foodies can tune in via your social media channels (or a private group call on Zoom) at their homes (or if you can’t build a customized Spotify Playlist to give them restaurant vibes)
- Ask them to share their experience via their own social media feed so that more people can come in next time.
- See happy faces via virtual call and warm them up to come to your restaurant as soon as they feel like dining in.
Host Your Guest Virtually with Virtual Dine In Sessions
You can open your restaurant virtually and ask patrons to order and dine-in online.
A virtual hospitality session would instill confidence and serve as a bridge before they can give outdoor food a go-ahead.
Here’s how you can organize virtual hospitality sessions at your restaurants:
- Launch a 24×7 (or 12×6) live stream channel on your website (or as a YouTube channel) that anyone can visit, anytime (like real walk-ins into your restaurant)
- Stream your restaurant interiors, food preparation activities and educate them about your hygiene standards on the channel stream.
- Give them the option to order online for a virtual dining experience at your restaurant via an online ordering menu along with the live stream.
- Everyone who orders in your vicinity is greeted by an assistant (like a waiter) as a follow up call and promised a delivery a t their doorstep within a limited time.
- You can top up the order with some specialized goodies like curated cutlery or candles for a candle-light dinner or even a complimentary dessert if they announce a special occasion, that’s on the house.
- They also get a ‘special pass’ on the successful delivery of the order that allows them to join your private area (like a reserved table in case of dine-in) virtually using their laptops (or smart TVs). You can play the live music on the video feed (just like your restaurant) that they can enjoy while having meals at the comfort of their homes.
Collaborate with Local Vloggers
This one seems pretty generic but it’s not about the idea, but the execution.
Instead of asking local vloggers to post about your food, restaurant or cuisine, tell them to create posts around how they miss their favorite food (from your restaurant) and send them complimentary meals that they can post about online with their audience.
Ask them to create FOMO around the best recipes from your menu and see how people start ordering them more.
A word of caution, though – it might cost you money (or effort) to bring them on board and talk about you online. So, the best approach is to talk with local Vloggers first and then move ahead to big accounts.
You can also chip in local food lovers (or online food communities) to post about your foods and ask their audience to share their food stories for exclusive discount coupons that they can redeem online or when they visit you next time.
Sponsor Meals for the Needy
Throughout the last year, we’ve all suffered in some way or the other. And showing empathy for the ones who need us the most can go a long way in cementing your brand image.
Here’s how you can use it to do some good for the society and get some goodwill in return:
- Sponsor meals for the underprivileged, prepare them in your kitchen and deliver them in areas that need food supplies the most.
- Create an offer where you top up every order with a free meal to an underprivileged person.
- Partner with a local NGO to get meals to the most needy and garner support from the local communities in return
Good deeds go a long way in life (and even in business).
You would get endless opportunities to promote your cause and stand out instead of just talking about yourself on social media when you do this. And the bliss, that’ll be priceless.
Encourage Foodies to Create User Generated Content
You must be doing deliveries, right?
Why not use your primary revenue channel these days to create content on social media for you? Not only will this add chatter about your brand online, but will serve as a real reminder from people who have been with you in these tough times. Here are some tips to make this possible for you:
- Along with the order in the takeaway, add printed cards (or coupons) that announce a special ‘spread it, get it’ offer.
- Ask the foodie to upload a selfie (or a video) on their social media with the food that they got delivered at their home and tagging your social media handle.
- Reward them by giving them a flat discount on the next order when they announce the proof to you via Whatsapp.
- The benefit can be given to them in the form of coupon codes or direct cashback in their PayTM wallets.
Not only will this increase your brand visibility, but will motivate a user to order again from your restaurant (uptick in customer loyalty).
Plus, you’d get lots of videos/selfies to share and post on your official channels. So, you won’t be wondering about what to post next time.
P.S.: If you have a website (with online ordering facility and a wallet), you can give customer loyalty an additional boost. Discover how to get online and get more orders (without paying commissions)
I hope I got you thinking about marketing for your restaurant here.
So, start using these ideas as standalone practices or together to make your social media strategy vibrant and create a brand people love.
Tempt them into trying your restaurant by doing more than just posting videos and images of food and see them swooning over your style, approach and engagement in the coming months.
If you feel it’s too much for you to execute these ideas on your own, don’t shy away from getting on a call with me to plan this for your restaurant.