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Should You Use Social Media?

Should You Use Social Media?

Feel like you’re on the outside looking in as social media marketing spreads like wildfire through the restaurant industry? Relax. You’re in the majority, according to a new survey conducted by website It found that 58 percent of restaurant owners and managers don’t currently invest in social media efforts. Think the majority is right?

Opinions vary on the usefulness of social media (Groupon, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, et al) among restaurant professionals. Some owners and managers consider these services a near-miraculous way to connect with a highly targeted group of customers for no upfront cost. Others consider them a waste of time unless their restaurant is located in a big city and is frequented by a younger, tech savvy crowd who own smart phones and are wondering where their friends are going each night.

There’s no question that social media-driven marketing is having a huge impact for many operations right now, many of them large chains. But the principals at online menu template provider got to wondering if social media is the answer for everyone in the industry. To find out, the website surveyed restaurant owners and managers about their use of social media. Here’s what they found out:
• 42% of restaurant owners and managers invest in social media efforts (including blog participation, and managing their Twitter and Facebook accounts).
• 12% of restaurants and caterers hire someone to manage their social media presence.
• 23% of respondents do not believe that they need to use social media as a marketing tool.
• 23% of respondents believe that they don’t have time to devote to social media, along with all their other restaurant management duties.

The survey drew 1,330 responses, so we think its conclusions are valid.

One result that jumps out is that less than one-quarter of restaurant operators and managers say they are too busy to deal with social media. That means 77 percent have sufficient time to devote to social media marketing, but many choose not to.

A second finding worth a look is the 12 percent of restaurants and caterers who have hired a dedicated person to handle their social media presence. This tells us that a decent percentage of operators have made a big commitment to social media marketing as a key component of their business.

Should you be one of them? Jim Williams, c.e.o. of study sponsor, thinks you should.

“Running a restaurant or catering business doesn’t leave much spare time for owners or managers,” he says. “But we believe that social media deserve that extra effort as a marketing vehicle. Eating is a social occasion and social media is a great way to turn a great meal into a tip for friends, family and foodies.”

The great unknown is the mindset of those restaurant owners not involved with social media marketing. Are they technophobes and Luddites? Might they be rightfully suspicious about services that primarily enable users to give away cut-rate deals in the blink of an eye? Or could it be that 58 percent of restaurant owners and managers currently not involved with social media marketing keep busy by selling full price meals to satisfied customers, just as they were doing well before social media marketing came along?

This survey is telling us that social media marketing has turned out to be one tool in the restaurant marketer’s toolbox. But it may not be the one you necessarily want to use if your business is doing OK.