As a small business owner, you understand the importance of social media. It’s likely the best and cheapest way to get the attention of new customers and stay on the minds of old ones.
Social media is especially important in the restaurant industry. For whatever reason, people love to see what others are eating and drinking, and they love to see what Insta-worthy dishes and cocktails restaurants are whipping up. We eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths, and the intensely visual nature of social media pairs perfectly with a restaurant’s marketing needs.
With smart and consistent posts, plenty of restaurants have built large social media followings that offer even larger returns on investment. With a little skill, patience, and a few good ideas, you can do the same.
Whether you are a veteran or a newbie, use the holidays as a time to reevaluate and double down on your social media presence. These six social media trends can help you fill out your feed and drive business this winter.
1. Holiday specials
Creating a few seasonal specials is a smart way to get your menu in the holiday spirit. You don’t have to revamp your entire menu, but adding a few seasonal items can be a great way to get customers excited about limited-time dishes, and they make for great social media content.
There are many appetizers, entrees, desserts, beers, and cocktails you could add to your menu. Things like cranberry and baked brie, scalloped mashed potatoes, or green bean casserole scream the holiday season. Of course, for entrees consider hearty winter classics like turkey, brisket, or prime rib. For cocktails, try a pumpkin old fashioned, hot buttered rum, and eggnog. All of these items can taste great and make #foodporn-worthy social media posts.
Of course, with new items comes a new menu. Finding time to design, draft, and write a new menu can be hard any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. Luckily, you can find free holiday menu templates online from services like MustHaveMenus. These templates come in a variety of styles to match any brand. They are professionally designed, visually appealing, and easy to customize.
2. Flaunt your holiday spirit
In the same way some decorate their homes with a Christmas tree, string lights, and stockings, you can deck the halls of your social media account with holiday-themed posts. Holiday posts can humanize your business, and show your customers that you and your staff are as excited as they are for the season. Here are a few ways to do it.
- Ugly sweaters and Santa hats. Encourage your staff to come to work dressed in their favorite ugly sweater. If they don’t have an ugly sweater, encourage them to wear green or red and give them a bright red Santa Claus hat. Take photos of your staff together, or photos of them making and serving your food.
- Christmas decor. If you decorate your dining room for the holidays, why not share it with your followers? Even if it’s only a small tree, a few gifts wrapped in festive paper, or a wreath on your door, these small items can make a big splash on your social media.
- Festive Profile Pic. While you’re at it, try swapping out your profile pic for something more festive. Can you add some snow or Christmas lights to your logo? Or maybe a shot of your dining room with a tree and stockings?
All of these suggestions can help you retheme your account for the season, making your business feel more relatable and up-to-date. Be sure to post a link to your restaurant’s website in your social media bio, and consider updating your website’s landing page for the season too.
3. Host a holiday-themed giveaway
The holidays are the season for giving, so why not show your followers some appreciation by hosting holiday themed giveaways? Here are a few ideas for giving back this winter.
Gift card giveaways and contests work well any time of year, but especially during the holidays, when you want to market your gift cards as potential presents or stocking stuffers.
A like, follow, and share Instagram contest is a great way to get the word out. It’s simple to host and easy for your followers to participate. All you need to do is post a photo of a gift card and tell your followers if they like your post, follow your account, and tag someone in the comments they will have a chance to win a free gift card. That’s it. Your followers will do the rest.
Like, follow, and share contests are a great way to increase your online presence and increase your social media engagement. They work with more than just gift cards. You could giveaway branded swag, holiday catering services, or free desserts.
4. Get involved in your community
Speaking of giving, the holidays are a perfect time to get involved with a local charity. Not only does donating food and volunteering your time serve your community, it can also be great for your social media.
There are many ways to incorporate some philanthropy into your business. You can work with a specific charity, hosting an event in your restaurant where a certain percentage of the proceeds go to their cause. Or, you and your staff could volunteer at a local food pantry or soup kitchen. While these latter options might be more time consuming, they make better social media posts.
Photos of you and your staff dressed in festive outfits spreading some good cheer to those who need it most will make engaging content that has a cause and a purpose greater than itself.
Volunteering and giving away free food brings lots of positive energy to your posts, and people on social media love positive energy. It also shows your followers that your business is aware of its community’s needs, and that it wants to do what it can to make its community a better place for all.
5. Create a holiday-themed tutorial
Instagram reels and TikToks are all the rage right now. Short videos get way more engagement than your standard post, making it a smart trend to hop on this holiday season.
You can film and post a short video of your back-of-house staff cooking up a favorite dish, or keep it holiday-themed with a seasonal entree or dessert. Maybe your chef makes a killer turkey breast or stuffing. Maybe he or she can whip up a decadent chocolate cake. Dress them up in an ugly sweater, layer it with some holiday music, and you have great content for the season.
Whatever it is that’s your “thing,” showing your guests how you make it gives them a peek behind the scenes, and it’s a great way to promote your dishes.
6. Holiday hashtags
Finally, make sure you are using hashtags on all of your posts. Hashtags can make your posts more visible to users who might not follow your account but follow certain key hashtags.
A little hashtag research can go a long way. You can find basic and general hashtags using hashtag generators, like the one available at best-hashtags.com. Of course, this isn’t the only generator out there. You can find plenty through Google.
Additionally, there might be more specific and local hashtags you could use to promote your business to people in your area. Doing a little research and seeing what kind of hashtags your competitors are using, especially if it’s a social-media-savvy competitor, can pay big dividends in larger cities where there are plenty of foodie hashtags that local food influencers use and follow.
Post, post, post!
Of course high-quality posts that get a lot of engagement are what you are after, but you also need a certain number of consistent posts to generate the kind of critical mass you are looking for with your holiday marketing campaign.
A good rule of thumb is three to four posts per week, at least two of which should highlight your holiday items. If you don’t have the time to brainstorm, draft, and post three to four posts per week, you can find social media templates online (again, MustHaveMenus has some great ones). These posts are eye-catching, easy to share, and free.
If you aren’t great at social media, remember to keep it light and fun. If you try too hard or come off as “salesy,” your posts won’t have the effect you want. The ideas above should help guide you in the right direction, helping your increase engagement and drive customers to your door, making it a happy holidays for all.