Restaurant Marketing Tips: The 4 Steps to Translate Social Media Engagement into Actual Sales

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It’s easy to get a little lost in the hunt for likes on social media. The thrill of getting a load of thumbs ups on Facebook or hearts on Instagram can serve to distract you from the real reason that you use these platforms – to generate revenue.

Social media marketing can seem to be a complex beast. But the basics are the same as almost any marketing effort. First generate new leads, then capitalise on them. But the second of these steps – translating social media engagement into actual sales – can often be the toughest.

So how exactly does a restaurant go about it?

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1) Understanding the function of social media

To understand how to best use social media as a marketing tool you first need to understand exactly how social media can help your restaurant – over and above giving you the ego boost of likes and shares.

Social media marketing finds itself right at the beginning of the sales funnel. It’s largely about brand awareness – getting your name out there in order to generate interest. Because a large percentage of these leads will be particularly soft (i.e. not giving an indication of an intent to buy), your content and conversion efforts need to reflect that. A soft lead requires a soft touch.

2) Converting the soft leads

So how exactly do you convert these soft leads? Because these leads are entering the sales funnel at such an early point, and may not yet be familiar with your restaurant, they might not be open to an abrupt offer from you. Rather the aim should be to convert your social media followers into email subscribers.

Giving your email to a restaurant is a signal of intent. More than a simple “like” or “follow”, it suggests that a lead is more ready to be directly marketed to; more open to your advances. By posting content that includes invitations such as “subscribe to our email list for member-only deals” or “for our latest offers, join our exclusive club” you’ll quickly identify those followers who are open to being converted into patrons, and those who are just there for the hilarious memes.

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3) Making it as easy as possible to convert

Take a look at your social media profiles and website. Can a potential diner book a table in just a couple of clicks? They certainly should be able to. The key to converting social media leads into lifelong customers is ease and convenience. If you make it even the slightest bit difficult to book or even find your restaurant, you’ll be losing out on real revenue.

Social platforms such as Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor all have functions which allow for instant booking. It’s vital that you use them. The platforms which lack such a function will still allow you to direct potential diners to your website, which should provide an easy booking function on the homepage. You’ll also need to display clear and concise directions to your establishment and make it obvious if you offer a takeaway service.

4) Constantly analyse your results

You won’t know if there’s been any improvement in conversion if you don’t analyse the results. A combination of Google Analytics and a social media focussed utility such as Hootsuite Pro allow for simple analysis of your efforts. Metrics to keep an eye on include:

  • Cost per impression
  • Cost per engagement
  • Cost per lead (both hard and soft if possible)
  • Cost per sale

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By tracking these metrics over the course of a few months you’ll soon build a picture of how your social media conversion efforts are performing and can tweak your strategy in response to the insights gained.

While getting triple figure likes on a post might make you feel great, it’s not the end goal of your restaurant’s social media efforts. Each one of those hundred plus likers is a potential customer; perhaps even a lifelong one. And it’s up to you to ensure that they don’t just slip away.

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