Marketing gurus are unanimous in saying that restaurants should make Facebook fan pages a cornerstone of their marketing efforts. To a large degree, they’re right. But new surveys of restaurants that maintain fan pages and consumers who use them indicate no automatic payoff comes from having one.
Facebook fan pages are one of the tools marketing outfit That’s Biz employs to help its restaurant clients cultivate additional business. Working off the premise that many restaurants have yet to make the most of this opportunity, the company recently fielded a pair of surveys to assess how well fan pages work for restaurants in the real world.
First, That’s Biz surveyed its restaurant client base about their use of Facebook fan pages. The survey found that:
• More than half of the company’s current restaurant email marketing customers do not have a Facebook page.
• The number one reason these restaurants were not on Facebook is that they don’t have time to figure out how to use it and manage their page.
• For those restaurants that do have a Facebook page, very few said they felt it definitely increased business. Most said either they were not sure if it increased business or that their Facebook page “at times” increased business.
• The biggest concern for restaurants that have Facebook pages is finding time to manage their page.
That’s Biz then surveyed consumers who visit Facebook fan pages. The sample size wasn’t the biggest—only 451 respondents—but the results still turned up some interesting numbers.
When asked why they had visited a restaurant’s fan page, consumers gave these responses:
• 78 percent of respondents indicated the restaurant was one of their favorites.
• 75 percent of respondents said they were looking for special offers.
• 28 percent wanted to check out the restaurant’s menu.
• 23 percent visited to participate in a contest.
Then That’s Biz asked those who had clicked on the Facebook “like” button while visiting a restaurant’s fan page why they had done so. The results:
• 78 percent said the restaurant in question was one of their favorite restaurants.
• 61 percent said they clicked “like” so they could access a fan-only offer.
• 23 percent clicked “like” so they could participate in a fan-only contest.
The survey also queried Facebook users who had previously “liked” a restaurant as to why they had stopped visiting that restaurant’s Facebook fan page or “unliked” it. There were just two reasons given:
• 50 percent said they took these steps because there were no special offers.
• 46 percent said the restaurant sent too many updates to their newsfeed.
Our take on these surveys is that a lot of people love restaurants—conditionally. Certainly the scariest number is the one that indicates how many people troll Facebook for deals, contests or other special offers from restaurants.
But that’s ok, because the beauty of Internet marketing is that converting even a small number of your Facebook fans to customers might still be enough to create meaningful incremental revenue for your operation. The lesson from these two surveys is that if you’ve got people going to your restaurant’s Facebook fan pages to look for a deal, give them one as often as you can. Facebook fans might be fickle, but they still get hungry.