Master social media: simple strategies for food business success

Social media platforms, ranging from Facebook and Instagram to TikTok, LinkedIn, and X (formerly Twitter), offer many opportunities for food businesses. Choosing the right channel depends on your market and specific goals. But beyond just gaining followers and engagement, the real question is how to best do so. Let's explore various tactics to integrate into your social media strategy, making your presence on your chosen channels truly sizzle.

 Location, location, location

Why focus on location in the digital world? It's not a physical space, right? But here's the thing: many of your customers are active online. They're often on social media, chatting about their plans, activities, and experiences. So, it's a smart move to connect with them there as well. Think of social media as an online cafe, one brimming with inspiration that engages your audience. When diving into your socials, there are two key areas to consider:

o   Your online presence.

o   Your engagement which includes getting followers, likes, and interactions with your brand.


Crafting an effective social presence

o   Remember our digital masterclass email and blog post 'Brand and Website 101'? It's just as important to get your social media looking as sharp as everything else. Need help? Go for an expert. Prefer DIY? Make sure you're up to speed on getting it just right.

o   Keep it consistent. Use the same positioning (way to describe yourself) logo, style, and colors as on your website. If design isn't your thing, a good designer can make it all work together, and size properly on mobile.

o   Ensure images or videos are the right dimensions on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. If they're not sized properly, they might end up looking blurry or just off.


Use each social channel properly, utilizing features. Post regularly.

When you set up a social media account you can usually choose if it is a personal account/profile or a business one. Choose the business option to give you access to extra features like paid advertising and tracking.

o   A great tip for social media inspiration is to check out what other chefs or food businesses you admire are doing. Scroll through Facebook or Instagram and see what catches your eye.

o   For your social profiles, you'll need a logo, a clear description of your business (called your positioning), and a header image. You can easily find the right sizes and word limits with a quick Google search or via the design tool.

o   Your handle (that's your @name, like on Instagram) should ideally be your business name. If it's taken, think of a creative twist that's still recognizable.

o   Don't forget a profile photo, an 'about' section, your address, website, opening hours, and a nudge for people to tag you in their posts. Some places offer a freebie for tags – it could be a drink or a discount.

o   Consider having a consistent style for your posts. A designer can help, or you can try one of the many online design tools if you're going DIY.

o   Both Facebook and Instagram can link to review and booking sites. It's worth setting this up— again get some help if you need it.


Create large and small goals (KPIs)

Your social channels should work like all your other marketing channels. That consists of setting goals (KPIs), having targets, tracking outcomes, and then making necessary adjustments.

o   Goals could be gaining followers, post likes, views of content, comments, community interaction, etc.

o   Make your goals (KPIs) really specific, for example to increase from 1000 to 3000 followers during six months or a year.

o   Track your posts and content to see how successful it is.

o   It’s worth knowing that to reach a lot of people on Instagram and Facebook, it’s helped by budget to create ads or boost popular content. Start small and test it. When you know what works, budget more.

o   Social media is not usually the place for hard selling, inspiration works best most the time. Consider eye-catching content like thought-provoking ideas, giveaways, or promotions. Seasonal menu changes, or the Friday specials are also popular food service ideas.

o   Create ‘behind the scenes’ content–showcasing the people who work with you, ‘real life’ kitchen stories, or even see if you can profile your regular visitors.

o   Glowing reviews you want to use somewhere? Try sharing them on your social channels as quotations to inspire more visits.

o   Try to work with popular accounts or people with many more followers than you – these are called influencers.

o   Influencers will usually work with brands for a set fee, and post about you on their channels. This is another great way to get seen beyond your own followers.

Create a good social media schedule

o   There are handy tools out there that let you schedule posts in advance, so they go live automatically. As they all have different strengths and weaknesses, research which tool works best for you.

o   Larger restaurants and brands often team up with a content creator for creating a good schedule and then handling the posts and analytics. But if you've got the time, especially in the early days, you can totally handle it yourself.

o   Posting more will help your reach (= the number of people seeing your posts) minimum to aim for is 3 posts a week.

o   This is because the more you post, the more likely it is people will see you and follow you.

  • Remember, social media platforms love active users. The more you post and the more interaction (likes, comments, mentions) you get, the higher your posts will appear in people's feeds. The time you post can also help your engagement.
  • Don't be afraid to show off your style and what makes your place special. Need some ideas? Just browse around and see what's catching people's attention.
  • Mix it up with different types of posts. You could have regular themes like "Fun Friday," "Chef's Corner," "Celebrity Sightings," or "Customer Shoutouts."



Good customer service is still a must

People expect great service from you, and it doesn't matter if that’s in-person at your food service point, or online on social media.

o   It’s important to regularly check and answer messages or comments on your social channels, preferably at least once a day.

o   If you’re too busy to handle multiple messaging platforms, use a staff member or specialist to service it for you.

Download our handy sizzling social media checklist.