Restaurant owners have a head start in the world of social media. Customers already expect you to have a presence and to engage with them there so you don’t have to fight as hard as other industries to gain followers. Creating loyal customers, though, takes some thought and a bit of tactical maneuvering. If done well, using social media can be an easy and low-cost way to gain customer loyalty.
1) Social Only Offers
Probably the best way to gain and retain the loyalty of your patrons on social media outlets is to offer exclusive offers they can’t get anywhere else. Make it one of the perks of following you. These types of offers often get great share traction, too, as followers share deals with their own social network.
2) Event Promotion
Making your social outlets a hub for announcing and advertising upcoming events like live music, drink specials, or charity nights is a great use of the medium. Consistently use your accounts, and you will create loyal customers who regularly check your pages and feeds for information about what’s happening at your restaurant.
3) Contests and Giveaways
Peppering in a few surprise contests or giveaways keeps followers on their toes and checking back with you frequently. Don’t give away anything without asking for a share or a comment though — this will help organically boost your post.
4) Invite Customer Engagement
It might seem scary to ask your followers to engage with you, but in the end, the reason most people are on social media in the first place is to interact. Ask for feedback on a new menu item, or encourage people to share selfies at your restaurant. Then, make sure you thank them and comment on their posts as well.
5) Handle Complaints Like a Pro
Creating customer loyalty in a virtual space can sometimes be tricky. After you invite engagement and put yourself out there on social media you should be prepared to handle negative comments and complaints. Remember that everyone can see your responses so it’s vitally important to conduct this type of customer service in a highly professional and polite manner. Here are a few quick tips for handling unhappy campers:
- Always be polite and remain calm.
- Take the high road in any mud-slinging.
- Don’t make excuses, but instead offer resolutions.
- Apologize for bad customer experiences and any inconvenience.
- Invite them to private message you to resolve the issue.
Customer Loyalty is Earned
There are many things competing for your customer’s attention, especially on social media so you are going to have to earn your spot among the noise and make it through the priority filters. However, if you become a valuable social media resource and learn to harness its power, you will go a long way in creating customer loyalty for your establishment.