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Empowering Restaurants in America

Shared Plates: Why Restaurants Need to Embrace Social Media

Photo: Courtesy of Prateek Katyal

While there are many social media platforms to engage diners — from Facebook to Yelp to Twitter and more, one platform is crucial.

“If you Instagram a dish and it’s gorgeous, people will see that and want to come in and try it right away,” says Amanda Kludt, editor-in-chief of Eater.

She calls Instagram a “game changer” and urges all restaurants to actively market themselves on the photo-sharing app. Just make sure you have great food photos.

“It’s such a great marketing tool for restaurants because food is so visual,” says Kludt, who’s been with Eater for 10 years. “It’s so good-looking and you can entice people with your food.”

The feedback loop

While social media is great for engaging customers, it often has a downside: complaints and negativity.

Kludt, who advises tackling only the big complaints, says it’s smart to give customers a way to connect privately, such as a phone number or email.

Quick-service restaurants can enhance customer engagement by offering guests amenities like free wifi, order and delivery platforms, self-service kiosks, simplified digital menu boards and a user-friendly point of sale. Reward diners with digital coupons and deals on a restaurant app.

Pay attention to millennials too, since they’re the next generation of customers.

Social style

Each eatery needs to find its social media voice. Wendy’s, for example, is snarky, edgy and geared toward millennials.

“They can afford to be fun like that because it’s so surprising,” says Kludt. “You never expect some giant corporation to have a fun voice on social media. And to kind of attack their rivals on social media.” She cautions this bold approach doesn’t work for high-end eateries or mom and pop restaurants.

And while tweets and posts can be overwhelming, keep it simple. “Don’t try to do every single thing,” says Kludt.

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