online-restaurant-reviews-resized-600Social media networks have exploded in the last few years with Facebook alone having more than 900 million users. The added ability to connect to these social media sites on a smartphone practically anywhere in the country proves that this type of social connection is not going away. In today’s technologically savvy world, it is vital that restaurant owners discover how to tap into social media networks and learn how this type of online marketing can help boost social reviews for their restaurants. The problem for many restaurant owners and managers is that there are so many different social networks and online marketing opportunities, how do they decide which one will work for them? Below is a list of the top three things that restaurant owners and managers can do today to maximize the impact of social reviews on their restaurants.

1. Link Social Media Sites Together

Any restaurant owner or manager who has tried online marketing on various social media networks understands how time consuming it is. To reduce the amount of time spent online, it is more efficient to link social media sites together. Many of the major social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest, allow users to simultaneously post on their chosen networks. For example, a restaurant owner can quickly post a picture of a specialty dish on Pinterest and have it automatically link to both Twitter and Facebook. This will reduce the amount of time spent online, but will still reach the maximum number of customers and increase the opportunity for potential reviews.

2. Offer Special Deals to Social Media Connections

A recent study done by the National Restaurant Association revealed that one-third of the people asked said that they would follow a restaurant on a social media site if they made their specials available through these sites. This not only offers a great opportunity to grow a customer base, but it provides an affordable method to advertise to customers. For example, the couple deciding where to go out to eat may choose a restaurant based on the specials offered through social media. This same customer may comment on the post, leave a review, or check-in while dining, allowing all their friends to take notice of the restaurant as well.

3. Management Social Media Sites Effectively

Although it can be time consuming to use social media for marketing purposes, it is important that restaurant owners and managers consistently update their profile page. Customers are not going to take notice of the restaurant unless it has a new post, comment, picture, video or tweet. Be certain to thank customers leaving good reviews of the restaurant and try to immediately fix any customer complaints that are posted. A new idea that restaurant owners and managers are trying is to offer special deals to customers who post about the restaurant or leave rave reviews. This often happens while the customer is still in the restaurant, allowing an owner to instantly offer them an extra glass of wine, free dessert or a discount on the bill.

With more and more people turning to the Internet for viable information, it is vital for restaurant owners to take an active role in online marketing. Today, restaurant reviews are more important than ever since review-based sites like Foursquare, Yelp and CitySeach are easily accessed by a smartphone. It is easy to see why a recent study, conducted by NRV Restaurant Operators, showed that 47% of restaurant owners said they plan to increase their social media marketing in the coming year. To stay competitive in today’s market, it is essential that all restaurant owners make strategic plans to increase their visibility on social media as a means to boost their social reviews

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