Last month, we were tasked with finding out what’s next in social media marketing. We asked a dozen chefs, operators and marketers and came to this conclusion: No one really knows. Everyone had answers to our questions, but no one claimed to have the right ones. We heard a lot of, “this is how I do it,” or “there may be a better way,” or even something as matter of fact as “I’m just making it up as I go.”
The truth? Social media is evolving so quickly and in so many different directions that it’s hard to follow. Facebook is just days past 10 years old, Twitter is almost eight and Instagram only three. Snapchat isn’t even a year old, and the next big thing is probably still swirling around in the mind of a 19-year-old student at MIT.
What we did discover? You’re not alone. There are many chefs and operators out there doing the best they can, using social media for fun, marketing, customer service, hiring, inspiration and more. Some spend hours online, others just minutes. Some use Twitter, others like Instagram.
We took our #RHSocialSurvey to Twitter, hoping to find more best practices that could help others improve their social media efforts. Here are some of the best, and funniest, responses we got, all in 140 characters or less:
How much time each day are you on social media for your restaurant? At what sites?
@EricStoesselRH @RH_restaurant no structure. Always spur of moment. Use @instagram to link to @facebook and @twitter— Jason Dady (@chefjasondady) February 3, 2014
@EricStoesselRH about 1.5 hrs a day. 7 locations, focus on FB, Twitter and IG. Always monitoring. Don't use 3rd party delivery.— Passion Food (@PassionFoodHosp) February 3, 2014
With @hootsuite 24/7 + digi dir @dbrosenzweig monitoring all rests Fb/twitter day/night we're always online #rhsocialSurvey @EricStoesselRH— ESquared Hospitality (@ESqHospitality) February 3, 2014
And Amelia Sawyer (@chefswidow), the wife of The Greenhouse Tavern chef Jonathon Sawyer said in a direct message: “All day long! Love the big three: FB, IG and Twitter. Special spot in my heart for Vine; wish I used more.”
Complete this: If I only had 20 minutes in a day to spend on my restaurant's social media, I'd...
If only 20 min, make sure direct q's are answered, post an action shot on instagram, push to FB/twitter. @EricStoesselRH #RHSocialSurvey.— ESquared Hospitality (@ESqHospitality) February 4, 2014
@EricStoesselRH @NRNonline #RHsocialsurvey tweet the entire time!— Franchise Fuse (@FranchiseFuse) February 4, 2014
@EricStoesselRH @RH_restaurant post ad 2 hire dedicated marketing person. Effective social marketing requires a plan & time #rhsocialsurvey— Michele J Martin (@michelejmartin) February 4, 2014
@EricStoesselRH @RestaurantRowe use it to best to promote my products, drive traffic & interact 1 on 1 with my customers #RHSocialSurvey.— Jon Hochstat (@JHochstat) February 4, 2014
@EricStoesselRH try to be smarter than Anthony Weiner?— Greg Baker (@gregsbaker) February 4, 2014
Give us one great social media tip other restaurateurs can use:
Use social to "surprise and delight" guests that you know are in the restaurant and broadcasting about you. @EricStoesselRH #RHSocialSurvey— Devorah (@dbrosenzweig) February 5, 2014
Be cautious of photo filters! Food photos in natural light make the best shots. No vintage ceviche please. @EricStoesselRH #RHSocialSurvey— ESquared Hospitality (@ESqHospitality) February 5, 2014
.@EricStoesselRH one tip is to put a dot "." In front of the name who your talking to if you want the conversation to be viewed publicly— Derek Simcik (@Chef_Derek) February 5, 2014
@EricStoesselRH #rhsocialsurvey Interactive, well-filmed, short chef videos for recipes! Make your followers part of your kitchen!— Dishcrawl Cleveland (@dishcrawlclv) February 5, 2014
Engage customers in contests and trivia on Facebook/Twitter and provide giveaways to generate conversation about your spot #RHSocialSurvey— Justin Laidlaw (@ShiftZen_Justin) February 5, 2014
And perhaps the best advice, yet:
@hoodfilters @EricStoesselRH The easiest tip is to not fear SM. Jump in.— Slices (@SlicesHamilton) February 6, 2014
What is the best use of social media for restaurants? Marketing, analytics, customer service, hiring or what?
@EricStoesselRH From networking for finding new employees or new vendors, press leads, & #1 being transparent to the guest #RHSocialSurvey— Derek Simcik (@Chef_Derek) February 6, 2014
@EricStoesselRH @RH_restaurant Track & Share social recognition of servers by customers. Don't lose those in the comments section of yelp.— credpost (@credpost) February 6, 2014
What's next in social media?
@EricStoesselRH we do quick Instavideos for plating already in my kitchen ,Thinking to start snap chatting secret off menu dishes to guest— Derek Simcik (@Chef_Derek) February 7, 2014
.@EricStoesselRH I don't know if I could predict that but maybe something showing more transparency on where we are sourcing product?— Derek Simcik (@Chef_Derek) February 7, 2014
Looking forward to seeing how social is used in web 3.0 - what will it mean for marketer and consumer? @EricStoesselRH #RHSocialSurvey— Devorah (@dbrosenzweig) February 7, 2014
There you have it. A lot of answers, none necessarily right for everyone, but many that hopefully inspire you to take full advantage of what social media has to offer.