In the world of Twitter wars, memes and “food porn”, restaurants are capitalizing on social media as a key component to a successful marketing strategy. Great content and frequent posts drive a greater following to a restaurant’s social media pages, and in turn, help grows a business. With over three billion active social media users in the world, taking advantage of the free advertising service that is social media is a no brainer. Below are ten restaurants that are utilizing social media to its maximum potential and gaining a massive following in return. Take a page from one of their books.
The popular fast-casual salad chain has gained a sizeable following on Instagram due to a fresh and defined aesthetic, with an emphasis on pure ingredients. Sweetgreen frequently posts professionally-capture, color-filled photos of its hottest dishes. By capturing photos of the restaurant’s fresh ingredients and farmers who grow them, Sweetgreen stays true to its brand message of connecting people to real food.
One of the best ways to market your product? Show off how many people like it. Milk Bar has a knack for working in the occasional Instagram post featuring your favorite celebs chowing down on their delicious treats (i.e. Sophie Turner gifting her hubby Joe Jonas with one of Milk Bar’s infamous layered cakes.) With photos of colorful desserts and happy customers, it’s no wonder the ice cream shop has close to 600k followers on Instagram.
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In August, Popeyes released a brand new chicken sandwich that has sparked debates on which fast-food chain serves the best version of the savory classic. While Shake Shack is primarily known for its burgers, the restaurant cleverly used its Instagram page to get in on the fun, highlighting their very own fried chicken sandwich. Shake Shack also gets points for its user-generated content – by tagging photos of your delicious burgers, you have the chance to be featured on Shake Shack’s Insta page.
Savory appetizer photos aside, Applebee’s knows how to connect with followers on social media. The chain is famous for coming up with exciting contests to promote new dishes while simultaneously boosting social engagement. In the past, Applebee’s has asked customers to post pics of their own meals or tweet a clever date night proposal idea to win a free dinner at the restaurant. Allowing customers to shine a light on your establishment with their camera and captions is a great way to get everyone involved. Plus, who doesn’t love a good contest?
It’s almost impossible to be a Twitter user and not stumble upon a tweet from Wendy’s. The fast-food chain is known for its sassy tweets and even for stirring up an occasional Twitter war with McDonald’s. In May, Wendy’s introduced a Twitter campaign to hype up customers for the return of the spicy chicken nugget. If their tweet got 2 million likes, the chain pledged to bring back the all-time favorite. With the help of Twitter and a couple of passionate tweets from Chance the Rapper, the spicy nuggets are officially back. Wendy’s knows how to get their customers involved and get their attention.
Sports, puns, and chicken wing discounts – is there anything else you could want from your Twitter feed? Buffalo Wild Wings does a fabulous job of attracting customers to their restaurants by recognizing the latest trending topics on Twitter. Big Bachelor episode coming up tonight? BWW has got fans covered with BOGO wings. How about the NCAA basketball championships? The chain posts beer specials all week in advance. Buffalo Wild Wings knows how to curate a follow-worthy Twitter account, they know what the people want.
Can a restaurant have a personality? With Twitter, it can. Boston Market knows that customers want more from Twitter than just tasty food pics, and the chain puts maximum effort into replying to its followers. Whether it’s a response to a customer service issue or just some exceptional praise for that Boston Market mac n’ cheese, the restaurant carefully words its tweets with spunk and poise.
Rita’s Italian Ice is another example of a restaurant that places a large emphasis on customer interaction via social media. The Italian ice company uses Facebook to highlight its “fan” of the week and gives a $250 gift card to a customer with the best selfie featuring a treat from Rita’s. Facebook is often overlooked when considering social media marketing campaigns, but Rita’s pinpointed an effective way to utilize a platform other than Instagram or Twitter.
Denny’s Facebook page has everything a frequent Facebook user could ask for: a responsive messenger app, location-specific reviews, and even an online order section. Potential customers who like to check out a spot before fully committing can get all of their questions answered before setting foot in a Denny’s and will never miss out on a good pancake promotion.
Unlike these restaurants, you most likely do not have a team of people managing your social media. While they are large, using them for inspiration is helpful. Maximize your time and your resources by using social media effectively. Learn what tactics and practices work best for your business and implement them — and, remember, social media is personal. Be sure to keep your digital presence in line with your in-person presence, and choose themes and campaigns that are appropriate and unique.