As a restauranteur, you may not be a fan of surprises.
You like to know that your kitchen is running like a well-oiled machine, that your staff it operating at full capacity and you can count on a steady stream of turned over tables.
But there’s one area that a little surprise would be welcome and that’s in your social media strategy. The good news here is you’re the one doing the surprising, although you might be surprised at how well these “surprise and delight” tactics can work for your restaurant.
Tell a Feel-Good Story
You know all the videos and gifs you see in your newsfeed telling you the harrowing tale of a dog that saved its owner or a teenager who overcomes all the odds for a moment of victory?
Those stories get shared because they make people feel good.
Feel good stories have been capturing our attention since the beginning of time, and even though mediums of storytelling have evolved, the underlying principles and foundation remain the same. People like things that make them feel and they like stories that allow them to identify with the feeling.
So, how do you translate this to your restaurant?
Maybe it’s doing a video capturing the story of how your restaurant started. Maybe it’s a slice-of-life piece featuring one of your most loyal customers or a long-time employee.
It may seem odd, but telling stories that have nothing to do with the food of your restaurant, but instead, tell the stories of the people who gather and work there can be just as effective, if not more so, at increasing you know, like, and trust factor.
Show Your Human Side
There’s a reason people loved the show Cheers! It’s because deep down, everyone wants to have a place where everybody knows their name.
Nowadays, the main form video entertainment isn’t through the television; it comes through the computer screen. And you better believe Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram are the new ABC, NBC, and FOX.
This isn’t to say your restaurant needs it’s own video series, although, we’re not not saying that either.
We’re simply making a case for showing up in your social feed. Yes, pictures of your food and updates to your latest promotions and menu items are important, but your social media needs to be personal to truly captivate today’s audiences.
You need to show the humor, hard-work, and the humanness in the back of house, front of house, out in the community, and when you’re out in the world.
For example, do you go to the market every morning to gather ingredients for your sauce? Live stream it! Or at the very least, video the process and stitch the clips together for a fun piece to not only show the behind-the-scenes of your menu and food, but also the person behind the meal.
Give Them What They Didn’t Know They Want
As much as we stress the importance of consistently creating and posting content to social media, it’s just as critical to invest time and attention into listening on social media.
When we say “listen” we mean, explore D.C.-area foodie hashtags and local hashtags your customers would use, read up on the comments on a D.C. food blogger’s or neighborhood publication’s Facebook posts…basically, do a little customer stalking.
It might feel a little creepy at first, but trust us, investing 20-30 mins per week in this type of activity can be huge for knowing what your customers want, how you can deliver it to them, and how you can properly market it so that it gets in front of them.
Now here’s where the surprise and delight factor comes in: as you’re
stalking doing stealthy research via hashtags and scoping out influencer posts, jump on any natural-fit opportunities to surprise and delight someone.
For example, you see someone in your target market who’s celebrating their birthday this week, tag them and comment letting them know to come in for a bday drink or appetizer on the house.
Or, if someone tagged themselves at your restaurant, send them a direct message with a thank you and free appetizer next time they come in.
Of course, this takes a little coordinating on your end to make sure that your staff knows any “surprise and delight” moves you’ve recently made, but the payoff can be well worth the extra coordination.
Because now, instead of merely posting something on your social media hoping it’ll be seen, you’ve purposefully gotten in front of someone who is now more likely to spread the word via their social media and in-person word-of-mouth about how awesome you are.
Don’t believe this stuff works? See how Kleenex ran a surprise and delight campaign where they sent people who posted about being sick on social media packs of free tissues.
The key to successfully surprising and delighting is to come from a place of honesty and heart.
Yes, these tactics are good for boosting your bottom line, but when you approach your marketing from a people-first perspective, the profits will follow.