Your social media plan should ideally be a part of an integrated marketing plan.
Social media, like it or not, has evolved to play an integral part in the dining experience. Businesses that fail to recognize or embrace this fact are missing out on one very major advantage: free marketing. The modern day equivalent of “word of mouth,” social media has the power to go far beyond merely the ears of friends and family. In an instant, a post about your product can literally reach thousands of eyes. And, if your business is a pizzeria, consider yourself lucky – pizza is one of the most popular photo categories on Instagram. (A 2015 study found that, of the 300 million food photos uploaded to Instagram that year, 17 million contained the hashtag #pizza.)
Most pizzerias do have a major challenge though – local competition – which is why it’s so important to remain in the forefront of your customers’ minds. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest provide invaluable tools to help to this end.
Whether your pizzeria’s in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Long Island, or anywhere, social media success depends on being a valued member of the community. A good rule of thumb is to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your posts should be useful to your community, and less about your business. Sounds counter-intuitive, but consider the impact that engaging and supporting high-profile community leaders and organizations with large followings can have on your business. For example, if the followers of a local Long Island high school sports team see their team’s official Twitter account engaging with you on social media, the more free publicity you receive. Supporting and promoting your community is a win-win.
The remaining 20% of your posts should contain content that promotes your food and your business. But it’s not enough to simply post about daily or weekly specials, new menu items, or discount offers. To stay fresh in the minds of your customers requires an ongoing conversation with them. You can do this by:
- Reposting their photos. If someone posts an appetizing photo of your pizza, or even a group shot of friends happily gathered at your restaurant, re-share their photo as a sign of both acknowledgement and gratitude for their business. This kind of organic engagement is priceless, and fosters great relations between you and your paying customers.
- Implementing contests. Offering a free slice to the person whose Instagram or Facebook photo of your pizza gets the most Likes, or a discount to the person who shares the most unique photos of your food, can yield great results in terms of getting eyes on your product and gaining followers. Offering contests on a weekly or monthly basis can keep customers tuned in. And since there are no hard or fast rules, you can get as creative with it as you like!
- Responding to comments and queries. If a customer takes the time to comment that they love your pizza, or a potential customer has a question about your menu or business, show them the courtesy of responding. It not only helps to foster relations, but it proves you’re an accessible business owner, and that your social media pages are active and current. A little kindness can go a long way in earning you more followers.
- Communicating information. The internet is the first place people turn to to get information, such as a business’s phone number, address, or hours. Your social media pages should reflect this information, as well as any updates necessary, in accurate time. Be sure to diligently update openings and closings, daily hours and holiday hours. There’s nothing worse than risking an angry customer showing up to your pizzeria on an off-hour, simply because the time change wasn’t reflected on the social media page they checked.
- Creating content. Here’s where you can really present yourself as the pizza/pizzeria expert you are! Find some interesting statistics about pizza and post them, maybe even tying it to a new menu item or a daily special. Highlight specific ingredients and their nutritional benefits. Share some pizza fun facts or historical insight into its creation. Offer a peek behind-the-scenes at your workplace culture and staff, or post photos from a fun public or private event your establishment hosted. Have any interesting stories about the décor of your restaurant? Share those, too! Post a pizza-related topic and ask your followers what they think about it, and consider linking their responses to a small, limited-time discount. Creating content is where you get to invite people in, have some fun, show off your expertise, and engage customer interest in your product and your overall business. Your fans are sure to – pardon the pun – ‘devour’ fresh content.
- Paid advertising. Of course there’s always the choice to purchase ad space, which can often prove to be a quick and effective way to attract new traffic to your business. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all offer paid advertising opportunities. If this is a route you choose, it’s important to know your target market well, and know how to not only create enticing offers, but also how to run an effective pizza advertising campaign. One idea is to think in terms of popular pizza-purchasing events, such as game days, Halloween, Thanksgiving Eve, and New Years Eve.
Your social media plan should ideally be a part of an integrated marketing plan. But remember, what you don’t pay in money for the free marketing that social media
offers, does need to be paid in terms of dedicated time and effort. Try writing down ideas for ways you can use social media both creatively and strategically to promote your pizzeria. Then, plug them into a schedule as daily, weekly, and monthly goals, and set aside a specific amount of time per day to tend to their
upkeep. Your consistency and commitment will pay off.