Last week, we interviewed four restaurants about how they use email marketing and mocked up a fancy group discussion about the topic.

Good news … we’re doing it again!

This week, we’re bringing together the owners of Galuppi’s (Pompano Beach, Florida), In A Pickle (Waltham, Massachusetts), Red Canoe Bistro (Burlington, Ontario), and Marisa Vallbona, the president of CIM Incorporated, the firm that helps market  Luna Grill (San Diego, California).

The topic? How each restaurant has been using social media and how other businesses can get started with these networks and use them effectively.

Are you involved with social media at all? When did you start those efforts?

Grant Galuppi, Galuppi’s: We started around 2010. Now, we have a full-time assistant who does Facebook & Twitter, because we’re trying to streamline everything. We use WordPress for our website, and now we have it enabled so the updates to our site will automatically get posted on Facebook

Tim Burke, In A Pickle: Yes, we are heavily involved with social media.  We started those efforts from the very beginning, when we were using MySpace. We started using Facebook in 2008.

Tobia Pohl-Weary, Red Canoe Bistro: We’ve been using Facebook and Twitter since around 2010. I find that they’re good communication tools to use about immediate things that are happening with the business. Social media is instant and I use it to keep in touch with our customers on a daily basis.

Marisa Vallbona, Luna Grill: We’ve been using Facebook and Twitter since 2009, but hadn’t seen too many results or engagement until last year.

How do you combine your email marketing with social media?

Grant: We’ll use email to drive people to our social media pages, like sometimes we’ll let people know that they can check in on Foursquare to get a free drink.

Tim: We include a lot of social media posts in our weekly email.  We also have links on our emails to our social media sites, and we direct users to sign up to our email list on Facebook and Twitter.

Tobias: We’ll share emails on Facebook and we also use the Join My Mailing List tab. I’ve found that sharing our monthly newsletters once or even twice on Facebook can be a good way to reach a different audience.

Marisa: We share emails through social media occasionally, and also use the social share buttons on all of our newsletters.

What can fans & followers usually find on your social media pages?

Grant: We have our daily specials, happy hour, different events, and whatever’s new that we might be trying.

Tim: Fans will find our weekly specials, charity events that we are a part of, pictures of our food and guests, links to related subjects, contests, ‘happenings’ at our restaurant, and other information that we feel our customers would enjoy.

Tobias: We include pictures, updates, and news.

Marisa: We use pictures and post links about any news coverage about the restaurants. We also like to show off our specials, because Facebook lets us feature our menu in a creative way by sharing photos of different meals or specials. But we also present them with a headline that is more interesting and conversational.

What advice do you have for restaurants struggling with social media?

Grant: They definitely need to have their ducks in a row before getting started. You need to get your audience captured and decide on the best way to do that before jumping into any social media.

Tim: Keep working at it.  Don’t think just because you decided to use social media your customers are going to flock to you.  You get what you put in. It will take some time to get a good base, but it will pay off.  Be creative or find someone to help you.  Customers like new things—try to switch it up every once and awhile or you will risk becoming ‘noise’.

If you don’t have a lot of time, then just stick to the big three—email marketing, Twitter and Facebook.

As a great marketer, you do need to put yourself in the places where your customers’ eyes are, and, right now, social media is that place. It’s comparatively a lower cost than traditional media and you will get a higher response.

Tobias:  You really need to be active on social media every day. It’s more of a day-to-day commitment than email marketing, but you’ll get more engagement from your customers. When you ask for your customers for feedback, they will respond.

Marisa:  We track our results and pay attention to our metrics. Looking at the type of posts that get the most engagement helps us decide what our customers are responding to. If we post something and no one responds, then we know we probably shouldn’t post it again.

I’d also suggest that newcomers to social media check out what other people are doing. Go to the most successful social media sites and hang out. ‘Like’ their page and see what kind of posts they are sharing. Don’t copy their posts, but look for ideas and get a feel for what will work best.
We are big believers in the rule of thirds. That means that one third of what you talk about should be about your business (specials, deals, promotions), the other should be about your industry (for example: eating healthy), and then the last should be about your community (other people, other businesses). If you continuously talk about yourself, you’re going to lose followers. 

How does your business use social media? Would you like us to cover another industry’s use of social media next? Let us know below!