This is a guest blog post by John Murray, head of the content team at Engage Web.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for restaurants and diners when it comes to selling themselves online is that the internet and food cater to very different senses.
The web, first and foremost, is a feast for our eyes and minds, with it being awash with information, images and videos that allow us to learn or just waste a few hours. Of course, there’s plenty to listen to as well, with the likes of YouTube, Spotify and Soundcloud keeping our ears happy.
Food, on the other hand, appeals to our sense of smell and taste, which is why you want your outlet to give off an aroma that tempts people through the doors and, of course, a product that stimulates the taste buds. As advanced as online communication has become, we cannot smell or taste things through our screens (yet!), so the two senses best served by food are being bypassed online.
This begs the question of how food franchises can promote something that primarily indulges our mouths and noses through a medium designed for our eyes, ears and minds. Here are a few suggestions as to how to overcome this battle of the senses:
1. Pictures tell a thousand words
One thing both the web and an appetizing meal can satisfy is our eyes. You only have to look at this site to realize that a wholesome burger or bursting box of popcorn chicken has a satisfying effect.
So, make your content visual. Use pictures of your fare to stimulate followers. If you have a burger available for half price for a day, post a picture of it looking at its juiciest.
A word of warning though – avoid heading straight to Google Images and posting the first pictures you see from there. They may be incorrectly tagged, potentially causing embarrassment if what you think is a clementine is really a tangerine, for example.
Worse still, the picture you use might be copyright protected, and the copyright holder may take your use of the image as a purchase. It’s often better to take the picture yourself.
2. Get the timing right
If your franchise isn’t using social media, it definitely should be, as a well-managed account can really hook in followers, especially if you provide them with content that genuinely interests them rather than just use it to make sales pitches. As important as knowing what to post though, is knowing when to post it.
Think about how many of your followers might have rushed into the office in the morning and missed breakfast. By 10am, their stomachs are rumbling and they’re thinking about lunchtime. This could be the perfect time to pique their attention with information about what you’re offering today, providing them with a welcome distraction as the morning trundles by in the office, and helping them come to a decision on where to head to for their midday meal.
Again, aim to make it more than just a salesy blurb, as followers will soon get tired of this.
Look to engage them and seek their input, perhaps looking for suggestions for additions to the menu or feedback on what their favorite items are.
3. Get competitive
A great way to boost your followers, and to engage them well once you have them on board, is to run competitions. The prize doesn’t have to be anything major, because people love winning things however big or small. Even a free meal is sure to interest people.
The above example of suggestions for additions to your menu could work well. If you run a burger franchise, ask your followers for their ideas for a new type of burger, promising the winner a free burger or his or her creation. Not only does this engage your followers and potential customers by showing that you listen to them, it will also arm you with a wealth of ideas for new products that may prove popular.
These ideas will hopefully allow you to make sure that your social media output is as satisfying to the stomach as it is to the eyes and mind.
John Murray is the Content Team Leader at Engage Web, a UK online marketing agency specializing in the franchise industry. John heads up a team of journalist trained editors and a global network of writers based across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the UK.