The Four Best Social Media Platforms for Growing Your F&B Business


While you may have years of experience hosting social events and preparing delicious food for your new and returning customers, there’s another entire social sphere that remains avoided by food and beverage professionals: social media. For many, the very thought of putting their business on various platforms can seem like more trouble than it’s worth, but in fact, it can be the necessary step that takes your business to new heights in the years to come. If you’re lucky enough to have decided to take the plunge into incorporating daily social media use into your business’ marketing plan, you might still be left wondering which sites are most beneficial and can have the most impact on your potential revenue. That’s why I’m here to help!


When it comes to using social media for restaurants, caterers, and other food and beverage professions, four main social media platforms can be utilized: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest. Each of these platforms not only has a large user base but can quickly and effectively allow you as a business owner to find your intended audience. These social media platforms also allow you to explore and attract your audience through various mediums such as written posts, photographs, and videos.


Throughout this blog, I’ll be covering each of these platforms in much more detail. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll not only know why each of the four social media platforms listed above are important for your food & beverage business, but also when and how frequently to post on each network, as well as some tips and tricks to help increase your business’ following and put your name out there.


Instagram

Overview

Instagram is just the latest in a long trend of social media websites and apps being used for marketing purposes. The social networking app focuses on sharing photos and videos and is predominately controlled through the app, however, users can still access many of the features from their traditional website. Much like Twitter and Facebook, Instagram is set up with both a user profile page and a news feed. As you post and share photos on your account, they will be displayed on your profile page, and will also appear in the news feeds of those users that choose to follow you. Similarly, you will also see other users’ videos and photos in your news feed. Engaging with other users is also fairly easy, as there is both a commenting and liking feature for each photo, as well as a private messaging that will not appear underneath posted content.


Why F&B Business owners should use it

Did you know that 69 percent of millennials take a photo of their food before ever taking a bite? In the grand scheme of things ensuring that your food and restaurant atmosphere is “Insta-worthy” is a task that practically markets itself. Without putting in any of the work, users can post their favorite dishes from your menu or snap a shot at a catered event and share it will all their followers. By simply tagging your business or user name, this can quickly put your business on the radar of thousands of new potential clients.


But just because others are posting your food for free, doesn’t mean you should get out of putting in the work on your Instagram page. There are many benefits to having an active Instagram page. For one, by sharing photos of your food and specialty items, you’re giving viewers a look at your menu that wordy descriptions cannot. People eat with their eyes first, and if you share a tantalizing feast with your followers, there’s a good guarantee that at least a handful of them will be enticed to come in and try your menu for themselves.


Actively partaking in Instagram posting can also give you a better insight into the habits as well as likes and dislikes of your clientele. As you become more active on the app, you can start to track what kind of content your followers are engaging with and what dishes most appeal to them. This can prove beneficial when trying to plan ahead for content as well as when planning new seasonal menus or specialty foods.


One final reason restauranteurs and catering companies might want to use Instagram to promote their business are because it can help build trust with your customers. Instagram isn’t just for picture-perfect food, it can also be used to share behind the scene photos of a day in the life or it can even be used to share profiles on your current roster of employees. By posting something as simple as a “getting-to-know-you” about your employees, you’re humanizing your business. This can allow for a better, more personal dining experience. If you feel as though you already know something about the staff serving you, you can become much more comfortable with them and even spark conversations that might not otherwise have taken place.


What content to post

When it comes to the content that you post, this is the “bread and butter” of a successful Instagram account for restaurant owners and other food business owners. First and foremost, you’ll want to highlight your menu by posting photos and videos of your food and drinks. A description of your food will only get you so far. Why read a description of a good steak dinner, when you can see a mouth-watering image of one. That way, as a potential customer, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.


But food pictures aren’t the only thing that should be included on your profile page. As mentioned earlier, you want to show off your business’ personality and staff to help add a sense of comfort and humanize your business. Everyone loves a good behind the scene photo or video. It can make your followers feel like they’re getting an exclusive look at the running of your business.


And while it’s perfectly okay to post all your original content, if you’re going to keep up daily posting, multiple times a day, you may want to regram some of your customers’ photos or even content captured by your local partners or food sources. Sharing and reposting other people’s content is okay, just make sure to give them the proper credit.


How often to post

When it comes to the frequency of how often business owners should post on Instagram, it is recommended that business pages post at least one to three times per day. However, it is more important to post consistently, rather than a specific quantity. If you only manage to post a few times a week, make sure it becomes a habit, and your posts upload around the same time each week.


By posting frequently on Instagram, you are setting yourself and your business up for more likes, and ultimately more engagement. Having an active presence on Instagram can also help increase your follower count.


Pro-tips

When taking the perfect photo for “the gram,” lighting can be key. To help show off your best dishes, avoid using your flash or framing the shot near any harsh overhead lighting. You’ll want to achieve a more natural-lighting effect, so it may be best to photograph your entrees near a window or a significantly softer light source.


To help up your engagement and get your followers involved, consider holding occasional contests and special promotions. Develop content criteria and have your followers submit their own content for the chance at winning a handsome reward. Set guidelines for your followers like tagging a specific account, using a particular hashtag, or tagging a friend to join in on the fun. You’ll be surprised at how many people will get involved when there’s a prize on the line.


Facebook

Overview

Facebook is what many believe to be the first social media network. You’ve probably heard all about Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to notoriety and the creation of Facebook, but do you really know what it’s used for. On Facebook users can post comments, share photos and links to videos and other websites all with the push of a button. Users can also like and react to other users’ content, as well as comment and engage with one another. Beyond the personal profiles, there are also opportunities to create fan pages, groups, and business pages where users can promote their goods and services.


Why F&B Business owners should use it

Restauranteurs and caters will want to use Facebook for the many benefits it can have for their business. One of the largest and most obvious reasons for using the platform is for the free publicity. It costs nothing to start a Facebook profile and creating content and sharing content created for other platforms is as easy as pie.


Facebook also allows for many followers and friends to quickly refer your business with a few simple tricks. Customers can check in on their phones and other devices, letting their friends lists know that they’ve joined you for a delicious and well-prepared meal. Potential clients and returning customers are also welcome to like your business profile, which enables all your future content and status updates to appear on their news feeds.


Facebook is also a great word of mouth tool to help transform those slow peaks of the trade. This can be accomplished by updating your status to reveal a nice discount or takeaway that encourages friends to come in and mention that they saw the ad online. Facebook can also serve as a great addition to your business’ website. By that, I mean that all information such as your menu, hours of operation, and specials can all be found in one specific place.


What content to post

Facebook has become a sort of hub for popular videos feature recipes as well as recipe links to be shared. This could prove a great way to get people to check out your page. Consider sharing one of your own recipes from your restaurant or repertoire to get people excited about your food. It also doesn’t hurt if that recipe relates to a specific story or memory from your past or directly related to your business and its history.


When it comes to the accolades of your business, telling people how great your food is by yourself is virtually null and void. This is why it can be important to encourage users to review your restaurant and share these online reviews with your followers. People are much more likely to follow the nudging of average Joes than people associated with your business.

While this has been stated for other social media accounts, it can’t be stressed enough just how important it is to give users a behind-the-scenes look at the smooth operation that is your business. This can be accomplished by sharing video or photos showcasing the food prep in the kitchen, or even something as simple as showing off local farmers and food distributors that you work with to provide the fresh ingredients to your customers.


How often to post

Business professionals suggest that in order to keep up with demand and your friends’ busy lives, you should be updating your Facebook account at least once a day, or at the very least three times a week. As for when you should post, that depends entirely on when your audience is online. Facebook has a business tool known as Facebook Insights to help give you a better idea of when to post your content online.


Pro-tips

Add Facebook social media buttons to your blog, website, and other media channels. This is a simple, yet effective way to expand your reach.


When choosing a profile picture for your business page, go for something easily recognizable, like your company logo or a headshot. This can help with getting likes and can optimize search results when users use the search bar to find your page.


YouTube

Overview

YouTube has the unique quality of being not only a social network but also a search engine like Google. In its most basic form, YouTube is a hub for users to upload and share their original content, while also allowing anyone around the world to view videos of every nature. Users can subscribe to channels that they like, as well as interact and communicate with the creators using a commenting system that is similar to Facebook and Instagram.


Why F&B Business owners should use it

Because YouTube is a large company, just behind Google in terms of the number of active users, it makes sense that business owners would want to indulge in all the potential eyes that will be on your business. Just the fact that you have a large potential audience is enough to make any business owner, specifically those in the hospitality industry to want to use YouTube in their marketing approaches, yet it’s not the only reason.


While it may seem intimidating to have so many eyes on your business and your content, YouTube also allows for a more personal experience. It allows you to build a strong, lasting connection with your target audience, and with the use of the comment section, you can quickly streamline other users' comments and can respond in a matter of minutes.


Also by using YouTube, you’re already creating content that can then be shared across your other platforms. Work smarter, not harder. You can copy your video URLs into the posting area of every social media account and with a simple click, it’s in front of all your followers across every network.


What content to post

The possibilities for video content regarding your restaurant or food business are practically endless. One of the most obvious, yet underutilized video concept is the online cooking show. Have you ever seen Tasty videos cluttering your feeds on other social media sites? If so, it’s probably because people, specifically millennials, have a renewed interest in these types of videos. To hop on the trend, you may consider recording demonstration videos to show off some of your popular dishes and how viewers can make these hit recipes at home.


Another unique aspect of the food experience is taking a tour of the kitchen. Take viewers behind the scenes and show off your friendly staff and show them where the magic happens. Along the way, you may also want to consider having impromptu or planned interviews with the cooks and staff. This can help customers become more familiar with the faces of your business, making for a more personal experience.


Other areas of content that can be explored include the creation of reels for special events or past events that you’ve helped cook for or helped plan. Another thing most viewers will want to know is the story behind your business. This is an opportunity to step in front of the camera and tell your story in your own words.


How often to post

When it comes to how often to upload content to your YouTube channel, the number of times isn’t as important as consistency is. It is recommended that as a business owner you set up a posting schedule and stick to that. For example, if you’re going to post content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then you need to try your best to keep up with this frequency. When developing your posting schedule, take into consideration that video creation and editing take a lot more pre and post-production that writing status or snapping a quick photo.


Thursdays and Fridays, between the hours of 12 and 3 pm is the best time to upload to YouTube according to social media expert Louise Myers. She also goes on to say that this time frame should relate to the time zone where the majority of your subscribers are located. This information can be determined with analytical apps and software.


Pro-tips

When preparing to film your first video, you’ll want to consider what type of camera you’ll want to use. Most people might instantly think to use their smartphone to film their project, however, camera phones still have many limitations that can make for lower video quality. While you can use smartphones for live streaming and blogging content, a DSLR camera is recommended for more intense video projects.


Once infant of the camera, don’t be afraid to let your personality show and if you mess up, just go with it. Mistakes can quickly be edited out before posting online, but one thing you don’t want to erase is who you are as a business owner. Being yourself can help viewers relate and appreciate you and your business on a more humanizing level.


Pinterest

Overview

Pinterest is kind of like the visually-inspirational version of Google. You can always find recipes, home and style inspirations and even crafts and family fun ideas all in one place. Each new idea or inspiration someone posts is considered a “pin.” Pins can be totally original ideas or something thy found from another website. When you save a pin on Pinterest, the automatically go on virtual bulletin boards. You can name your boards and even create sections within each board to keep track of your pins and keep like-minded pins clumped together. Pinterest also allows users to follow other pinners and see what boards they’ve created.


Why F&B Business owners should use it

Pinterest can be a great place for restauranteurs and catering companies to show off their business in ways that you might not have thought of before. On Pinterest, you can build different boards for each aspect of your restaurant. For example, if you’re a restaurant that also delves into catering for special events, you could make boards that highlight your menu and your catering services. If you’re also part of a larger nightlife within your community, this might also be another board topic to add to your profile.


If you’re a well-established food business, Pinterest can also be used to help showcase your awards and help build your reputation. You can always make a board to show odd your media presence and awards. These types of pins can act as a virtual resume for would-be clients to see that your endeavors haven’t gone unnoticed.


It can also be important when using Pinterest to repin other people’s pins. This can help expand your reach and put more eyes on your boards. Thee’s also an awesome location feature that allows you to pin a map on your profile that has different pins on different locations. Adding your business to a map can help give people an idea of where you’re located, while also allowing other people to share photos from their experiences at your restaurant or at an event you hosted or catered.


What content to post

There’s a variety of content you can link up to on your Pinterest page. You can create pins that link out to your company website or online portfolios of events that you may have had a hand in organizing. If you have a strong presence on YouTube, with a variety of behind the scenes and recipe videos, Pinterest pins can also be created to help spread the word and up your view count and find your perfect client.


When it comes to the types of boards to create, there are a variety of different aspects of your business that you can highlight. As mentioned previously, you can set up a board for your menu where each section of your menu becomes its own section within the board. Another possible board topic could be inspirations for new and seasonal items that you’re considering adding to your offerings.


Do you have a few dishes or desserts that your customers can’t rave enough about? If so, it might also be worth considering making a board dedicated to copycat recipes. If you’re not willing to share the secret family recipes, find a pin for a recipe that comes close for your followers to try out at home.


While it might not pertain entirely to your restaurant, it might also be helpful to set up a board dedicated to attractions and other things to do in your area. Customers may be more inclined to make the journey into your town if they’re already familiar with other places to go and things to see that are nearby. This could also lead to a collaboration with other local businesses that can promote your business on their boards and other social channels.


How often to post

It is recommended that at the very minimum, business owners add at least 3 pins per day, with the maximum being around 30. Research that any more than 30 pins a day has no impact on business growth and following count. To help keep up with pinning, there are programs and apps out there that allow you to schedule selected pins at different variables.


Pro-tip

Pinterest not only allows you to repin a recipe or post but also like it. If you truly like the content a Pinner is posting, don’t do one or the other, repin AND give it a like. This can help increase your chances of expanding your following.


Now that you’re familiar with the four social media sites you need to be using to improve your business performance, it’s important to understand that there’s still so much more to know about social media. That’s where the Social Media Handbook comes into play. This user-friendly guide will take you through all the basics of social media, including keywords you’ll want to make yourself familiar with, as well as which metrics are important to you as a business owner. There are also some great tips of advice that will help to keep you consistent and on task with your social media efforts. This all-in-one social media guide can be in your possession just by clicking here.


To help wrap things up, I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand which social media channels work best for your business. In the grand scheme of things, this will help save you time and can set you on a course for achieving your business goals much sooner than you anticipated. By utilizing networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Pinterest, you are attacking your growth with various mediums that will attract a variety of different audience subsets. The more you branch out, the more you can reap the rewards at the end of the day.


And for committing to your social media journey, consider this my gift to you. Enjoy a sneak peek at everything the Social Media Pantry has to offer. With this free sampling, you’ll receive a preview of the awesome content that can be yours if you sign up today! Your sample includes 5 social media posts and appropriate hashtags, as well as images to match, a 20-second highlight video, and a blog post ready for uploading.