I've been managing restaurant social media accounts for more than four years now, and even though I've worked with everyone from fast-casual to fine dining, most make the same mistake before we start working together.
Restaurants aren't showing us a behind-the-scenes peek into their business.
I get it. Social media is confusing: what started as a share-as-you-go service has now turned into one that is manicured and manipulated. The temptation to post perfectly-stylized photos is ever-present, and it has many managers turning to me and saying, "Do we really have to hire a professional photographer to have a successful Instagram account?"
The short answer? No. Stylized photos and beautiful photography are very important pieces of the "marketing package" and help convey your restaurant's offering-- especially on a website! But, social media is a different beast. It's social. And it's okay to be unpolished from time-to-time... within reason.
As a restaurant owner or manager, you're surrounded by amazing experiences in your kitchen every day-- vendor shipments, chefs working on new dishes, servers gathered around for family meal. Sometimes, when we see something every day, we forget how special it really is.
It's not enough to post a beautiful plate of food on Instagram or Facebook anymore. What's the story behind it? Is the recipe inspired by a sous-chef's grandmother? Did the turnips you use get delivered by a local farmer in overalls earlier in the day? Is the bread made in house every morning? I know you see these things every day, but the diner sitting at your bar doesn't. And they think it's cool.
Next time you're stuck for a daily Facebook or Instagram post, head back of house and look at the unpolished. What stories are hiding in your kitchen that guests would love to hear?
That's not to say anything back-of-house is fair game, though. When considering a "behind-the-scenes" post, check these things first:
- If food is pictured, does it still look appetizing? If not, reconsider the shot or move it by a window-- food loves natural light!
- Is there anything in the background I wouldn't want my guests to see? That dirty kitchen rag or bottle of Mountain Dew next to your sous isn't what we're going for.
- Does this tell a bigger picture? If you have a picture of your staff prepping biscuits, make sure you explain that in the caption of the photo. Use the caption to tell the bigger story and tie it back to whatever dish you're referencing.
- Does this shot have a human element? People love buying from people! Show those faces and hands in the kitchen. Not only do guests enjoy it, it's a great way to make your staff feel appreciated.
Great restaurant marketing is all about telling a story that people will remember. Do I want to buy a hamburger from the place that posted a beautiful shot of the finished plate? Perhaps, but I'm more interested in the place who does that and shares photos of a farm tour with the meat purveyor. Or shows the staff hand-shaping each patty so the guest knows they aren't frozen. I want to go to the place that tells a memorable story.
Check back in the upcoming weeks as we uncover more mistakes you could be making with your restaurant's social media profiles. And if you have a question about your own business, drop me a line and let's talk about it!