Social Media 101 for Restaurants
Lights, camera, action! In advertising circles, “video content marketing” is one of the most buzzworthy concepts right now. Let’s discuss how your full-service restaurant can take advantage of YouTube’s user-friendly platform to host and share your on-camera stories. The best part? You don’t have to be Martin Scorsese to master YouTube. Over 100 hours of video are uploaded to this vast social network every minute, many of which are recorded using only iPhones or small digital cameras. This video powerhouse is the second largest search engine—and happens to be owned by Google (the world’s largest search engine)—so a YouTube presence will improve the odds that people will discover your restaurant via any online search. Founded in 2005, YouTube is more popular with American adults aged 18 to 34 than any cable network, and there are millions of new subscriptions every day.
How does YouTube work?
Individuals and companies can create their own video channel by starting a YouTube account (a Google account can be used to sign up, too). When you upload a video, be sure to apply a keyword-rich name, a description, and relevant tags—all of these will make the video easier to find in searches. YouTube community members can search YouTube online or through mobile apps, and YouTube videos often show up in Google, Bing, and other search engine results. Develop a strategy to push out your video using your other social media sites (YouTube features easy-to-use share buttons). You also can embed the video on your website. Many webmasters who post video content on their corporate sites first upload the video to YouTube, because the software makes it easy to embed a functional and attractive video with an additional link to view it on your YouTube channel.
Once videos are posted to your YouTube channel, people can comment, share the video, or favorite it, as well as give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down. This makes YouTube social; the site will track your engagement analytics, such as views and likes, so you know which types of content your audience enjoys. Note that when you upload a video, you can adjust its privacy settings in case you want to limit who can view or interact with your content. Your channel will also have a “Discussion” tab, where users can leave feedback, offer menu recommendations, or ask questions for you and other channel viewers to read. People can subscribe to your channel and may opt in for YouTube notifications when you post new content. Some channels—such as certain TV networks or professional sports affiliates—require paid subscriptions, but the majority of content on YouTube is currently offered for free.
How do I brand my restaurant’s YouTube channel?
Make your channel’s handle the same as the name of your business. This will become part of your URL, making it easy to remember and share with others.
Upload a profile image. I recommend using your restaurant’s logo. This image will be used when you interact with other content on the site, as well.
Similar to your pages on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, it's best to upload a cover photo relevant to your restaurant’s brand.
Complete the “About” tab to share more about your restaurant. You can use this space to reiterate your current marketing tagline, direct traffic to your other social media sites, or give a brief history of your brand. As with any social network, the more “human” you are, the better response you’ll see from viewers. Ditch the corporate speak, and find a friendly voice for your brand.
Include your restaurant’s official URL to link your channel back to your website.
What video content should my restaurant create and share?
YouTube gives you the ability to segment your videos by playlists based on topic. For example, Olive Garden features one playlist for their TV commercials, another for a video cooking series, and a third that showcases life behind the scenes at their Culinary Institute of Tuscany. Here are some video or playlist topics I recommend for bars and restaurants:
TV commercials, news footage and interviews, or other professionally produced video content used to promote your restaurant in various channels.
(See commercials of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s.)
Customer testimonials–Why not offer a free dessert to anyone who is willing to go on screen to say a few words about your restaurant’s atmosphere, menu, or staff? Post the testimonials as individual short videos or create a montage, such as these by County Line Restaurant in Richfield, Pennsylvania, and Prima Pasta in Queens, New York.
Tutorials–Ask your chef to explain some cooking tips to the camera, or have your bartender do a series of how-to videos on mixing tasty cocktails.
(A bartender at Citizen Bar in Chicago details how to make The Green Goose.)
Special event footage–Hosting a fundraiser or booking a live band? Capture those special moments on camera.
(Paradise Garden, a Russian restaurant in Brooklyn, achieved over 22,000 views for this video of some live entertainment.)
Showcase your charity work–Partner with an organization your restaurant supports to create fresh content showing off how much you care.
Video menus–Film your different entrees with someone describing the delectable masterpieces as a voiceover; foodies will love it!
Special messages–Whether it’s to send a “thank you” to loyal customers, or to say "happy holidays" like this message from Sons of Essex in New York, video is a great way to express what’s on your mind. These messages can be shared across all of your social media pages, on your website, or even sent in your restaurant’s email newsletters.
Get creative–Use your out-of-the-box thinking prowess to come up with some fun or funny videos that will spark engagement with your brand.
(T.G.I. Friday’s polled people on the street during a series called The Great Valentine’s Debate.)
Can I advertise through YouTube?
Yes! Because YouTube is owned by Google, it employs AdWords to manage its advertising. You only have to pay when someone views your ad. Just upload the video you want to use to sponsor other YouTube content, choose a daily maximum budget, and then select your target demographics. If you are a Pittsburgh restaurant targeting millennials, for example, you can tell YouTube to show your video exclusively to viewers fitting those key demographics.
How will my restaurant fit into this community?
YouTube is its own community, just like any other social media site. In order to grow your audience and truly thrive, it's important to be a good neighbor: subscribe to other channels, comment on and share content from other channels, and be sure to respond quickly to your own channel’s discussion board comments. YouTube can also be viewed as a “service” to you, as the home of your online video content. (Please note: other social networks, such as Facebook, also have video upload options. Depending on your usage, hosting your video there may garner higher engagement rates than a YouTube embed). According to NewsCred, using video content can increase engagement 12 times better than standard text. The evidence is real: people like watching videos!
The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.