Five Local Social Media Tactics to Build Your Restaurant Brand

March 2014

Your restaurant has a great menu, a great concept, and great customer service. So what’s next? Whether you’re a niche fast casual joint or a franchisee of a surging enterprise, in today’s technology landscape you need an additional special ingredient to really take off at any location: a mastery of local social media.  

Digital technologies are undeniably revolutionizing the way brands and consumers interact. While it is getting easier to reach mass audiences, it’s also getting much, much more difficult to establish your presence among the noise of countless other brands. This is why you need to go local.

Proven tried-and-true by top-performing Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees, below you'll find five local social media tactics that Rockbot recommends for you to accelerate local brand awareness for your restaurants.


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Why local social media?

Studies have shown that despite gaining access to borderless loads of information, consumers still cling to their local roots and are drawn to brands that tickle that nostalgia. According to this report by the National Restaurant Association, over half of adult consumers (52%) are more likely to eat at a restaurant that supports their local community – something even large conglomerates should (and increasingly are) tapping into.

Active community engagement can mean the difference between thriving with a positive brand image and simply maintaining business. The best global brands are also the best local brands.


1. Partner with the community.

First thing’s first. What better way to connect to the customers in your community than to physically engage in multiple facets of their local life?

Franchisees of large corporations such as Subway, KFC, and Taco Bell are increasingly trying to localize their presences, getting involved in charitable local initiatives or strategic sponsorships of neighborhood organizations.

Partnering with community groups, from local merchant cooperatives to little league teams, reaches local consumers in authentic contexts and provides custom social media content.


2. Commit to local-first content.

Once you’ve manifested your brand presence more physically within the local community, it is important to cater your online content accordingly.

Prioritizing local-specific content on social media over national brand messaging increases consumer sharing and search engine optimization, resulting in two-fold benefits.

Consider that you are a San Francisco urbanite scrolling through your social media feed. You are much more likely to forward an invitation to “Telegraph Hill’s Applebee’s 49ers Game Happy Hour Special” than to “Try Applebee’s New Menu Item!”

Location matters.

As the Internet evolves and people learn how to navigate it more effectively, search engines are putting way more relevance on location-based searches. So while McDonalds may have once come up first in a search for fast food across the world, today the same search would garner different results in California (In N Out) vs. New York (Five Guys). Especially with the rise of smart phones and mobile searches, localized SEO is becoming not just more powerful, but necessary.


3. Befriend your competitors.

As important as it to optimize your own online presence, it is also important to establish yourself as a team player.

Take the high road and mention/tag/re-tweet other restaurants in the area. It breeds a sense of authenticity, making it clear that you’re invested in being part of the community and that you’re here to stay.

Not to mention, it promotes goodwill among your peers and encourages them to reciprocate. In the saturated world of online marketing, it can be beneficial to mutually endorse one another’s products 


4. Reward your regulars.

Never underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing. McKinsey suggests that “word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising in categories as diverse as skincare and mobile phones.”

In this avenue, the loyal bird catches the worm.

Your most loyal customers are the ones that already know, like, and trust you. They are the most willing to spread awareness to others. Reward them and you’ll end up attracting customers just like them. Spoil them with shout-outs and rewards on social and watch your brand spread across their networks.


5. Train your staff like a street team.

Who is more loyal than even your most regular customers? The people on the floor everyday – your employees!

Encourage your staff to engage actively in their social media channels. They mirror what your guests’ buying decisions would be, so they serve as excellent firsthand advocates. Tell them to share their favorite menu items online, to let their friends know about new promotions, to post pictures of special events.

They can also make a difference offline on site. Task them with recruiting on-premise guests to your social channels. Starting the consumer relationship with an in-person experience will boost online engagement later.

Next Steps for your brand… 

See example cases from today’s top restaurant brands, receive a sample social media calendar, and get a 1-2-3 on actions going forward: Download our free white paper and share with your colleagues. We know you’ll find it helpful!


Topics: Marketing, Restaurants, Branding, Social Media, Local, Strategies

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