Social media is a fantastic way to promote any business and it works particularly well for restaurants and cafes.

Ranging from review sites & apps such as eatability & Urbanspoon , to #foodporn images across Twitter and Instagram, social media has provided this industry with an amazing platform to push their talents, venues and services out to the masses – on a global scale.  Used well, social media will not only help a restaurant market their business, it will also help build a loyal customer base who ultimately, will end up marketing the business through their own social media platforms.  Nevertheless, it still amazes me how many restaurants and cafes still either openly reject social media as a platform for their business or approach it in such a half-baked way they needn’t have bothered. I had to ask why, seeing as consumers are all over it.

So, after speaking with a number establishments in my local area who appeared to be struggling with social media, it became clear to me that a key factor in this struggle was their belief they didn’t have much content. However, after a 5 minute conversation throwing around some ideas, I could see the light go on behind their eyes and a slow fog lifting from around them.


1. Dish of the day

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, highlight a menu item each day. You could be trying something new, or it could be a firm customer favourite – whatever it is take a photo (on your smartphone), add a filter and a snappy comment and share.

Engagement tip: Create a hashtag for it and ask customers who order the dish to rate it via social media using the hashtag. Reward a customer with a free meal or beverage next time they are in.

2. Recipe of the week

You don’t have to give away your signature dish secrets here, but you could share a recipe showcasing seasonal produce from the local area, a retired menu item you no longer serve or something from a chef that inspires you. What about a cocktail or juice recipe? – the options are endless.

Engagement tip: Run a promotion asking your community to send in their favourite recipes – the winning recipe could feature on your menu for a week.

3. Behind the scenes

Taking your followers behind the scenes of your business or introducing them to the team that runs the show is a simple and easy way to build a sense of community online. From the barista to the barman, head chef to front of house, post a photo of them in action and add a couple of easy Q&A’s they have answered, and you’re done.

Engagement tip: Ask your community to send in a question they want to ask a team member, then pick the best one for your next post, with a shout out to the customer who asked it.

4. Food tips

The secret sauce (pun intended) for content marketing is to solve a problem for the reader. When it comes to food, this could be as simple as suggesting the right wine to match with a main meal, how to cook steak or how to make the perfect coffee – anything the reader can use at home, or when they are next dining out. It’ll make them look and feel smart, and like you even more.

Engagment tip: Ask your community to share their best food tips. Select the best tip and create a new post around it called ‘tip of the month’ crediting the community member.

5. Polls & surveys

One of the best ways to help create content is by running a poll or survey, then using the results for future posts (or to improve customer service). The polls or surveys could touch on any topic such as – What are your favourite hamburger toppings? What is your biggest pet hate when dining out? What music do you like listening to when eating out?

Engagement tip: If you are thinking of running a poll or survey that is tackling an important issue for your business, why not offer an incentive for people to complete the poll, such as a chance to win a free meal or coffee?

6. This or that questions

When I worked on a women’s fitness magazine one of the most successful posts we ran were asking community members to pick ‘this or that’. Ranging from granny smith apples or golden delicious, banana or strawberry smoothie – the responses would generate a lot of traffic and community conversation. When you’re whole world is food, this or that can cover anything – poached or fried eggs, red or white wine, sweet or savoury.

Engagement tip: Turn the responses into a poll result, for example, 65% of our customers prefer poached eggs for breakfast.

When consumers choose to engage with your brand on social media it is because they like your establishment, they want to be the first in the know and they want free stuff. Using any of these ideas above will help you keep your content fresh and relevant to your community. The more you can get them invovled and the more you are willing to reward them for it – the more successful it will be.

Own a restaurant? What other ideas do you have for content?