How to Win the Internet as a Local Restaurant

September 3, 2020

Literally everyone you can think of today is on their phones 70% of the time. Letters became antiques and texts became the standard way of fast communication. Everything important in the world is online so it’s a pretty good idea to focus on it. Even before COVID-19, there was a growing trend of people who preferred the convenience of online ordering and delivery than cooking or eating inside a restaurant. By offering services like curbside pickup and delivery, you can reach those who prefer to avoid sit-down dining and help prevent the spread of the pandemic. 


Most people and businesses are on social media so that isn’t the difficult thing. The difficulty comes from using social media as a tool to convert regular web users into loyal customers. The cool thing about a social media presence is that it costs way less and way more time efficient than those annoying ads you’d see on TV. We’ll talk about that topic later in this article.

Here’s a few things you can do right now to build your online presence. 


Make a Website

Computer screen with pasta in the middle


A website gives you a personalized channel of communication that lets you choose how customers see your business. 

The four building blocks of a great website are visuals, responsive design, concise messaging, and content. Your website should be pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate for customers. Your website should have your restaurant’s menu and be designed in a way to represent your physical storefront. Once you have an idea of the different aspects you want to include, do some research into the many website building applications available. 


Here are a few good website builders so you don’t need to hire a coder or code it yourself. 

  • Squarespace: Easy to use and intuitive. Not very flexible with intricate designs but can handle most businesses.
  • Wix: Also easy to use and have less customization. 
  • Webflow: Easy for developers but has a high learning curve for non front-end devs. Webflow is incredibly powerful to build a fully customized website. 
  • Wordpress
  • Weebly

One of the easiest ways to drive customers to your website is by increasing your SEO. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, the higher your SEO is, the more often you would appear in google searches when people search for anything related to your restaurant or food items. Google Analytics lets you search keywords for free. Identify the most relevant words and phrases in searches to incorporate into your website. 


Try to find 3 to 5 keywords or phrases, both short-tail and long-tail, that are distinct and have high traffic to implement into your website. Short-tail keywords are less specific and target larger groups in search, like “food.” Long-tail keywords are specific phrases that someone will use when they are closer to the point-of-purchase, for example “veggie egg rolls near me.”


Uploading Your Menu Online

A restaurant's menu on wooden boards


This is a freebie. If you have a website, uploading everything you have on your paper menu to your website will immediately generate some basic SEO for google. 

Places to put your menu if you haven’t already done so:

  • Yelp 
  • Google 
  • Your restaurant website 
  • Anywhere on the internet that allows you to


Instagram 

Facebook app open on iPhone and scrabble Social Media spelled out

Instagram is used for brand awareness. The more enticing your page looks, the more well-known your posts and restaurants are to the public. If you run a restaurant that has spectacular looking food, make an instagram and share these wonderful images with your loyal customers.

Cooking up a new recipe? Instagram. An employee’s birthday? Instagram. A new flower pot you bought for your checkout counter? Instagram. Don’t focus too much on creating super unique videos and stories every day, focus on the documentation. Focus on sharing with people that care about your brand so they care about you even more. Make them think about your restaurant so much that they are willing to drive over an hour just to get a taste of your restaurant’s meal. Oh, and best of all? Instagram is free and easy to grow if you dedicate a little time each day to document your business. Put out content daily and connect with similar communities! Maintaining a consistent stream of online content will bring in real people who will like, comment, and share your posts to their own social platforms. Once your business starts to see engagement, interact with those followers one-on-one by replying to their comments and taking any concerns/suggestions they may have. 


Post quality content frequently and comment on the other businesses pages to attract followers in the same niche. Good artists copy, great artists steal. Seek inspiration for your own posts by looking at other businesses within your industry. 


Facebook

While Instagram is for brand awareness and keeping your customers coming back, Facebook is for creating and bringing together a community of people that are in love with your food. Do you know who the best salesmen are? Friends! Incentivize your loyal customers to tell their friends and family about your restaurant. You can incentivize this by offering some goodies or discounts when your customers post a good review on Yelp, Google, and other social media platforms.

Join local Facebook food communities and similar restaurant niches. Oftentimes, the people that love tacos from another restaurant might like your restaurant if you sell tacos too. Comment often to get your brand name out there and engage. 


Keep in mind when posting on social media is this: 

Do I have something to offer my followers? People are much more likely to interact with posts that they have gained something from, whether that’s a discount or knowledge. Do not stress yourself out trying to post on social media every day if you have nothing of value to offer to the customer! It will only end up stressing you out and making your social media channels look cheap.


Everything listed in this article is a good starting point for additional research. We want to give anyone struggling with establishing an online presence a reference for how to proceed. Creating an online presence is not a simple one night task, it requires daily content creation and engagement to be effective. There are a lot of complexities in establishing an online presence when you're busy with your restaurant. If you ever need assistance with your restaurant social media, BYPPO offers free online marketing and social media content distribution completely free of charge for our vendors. 

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Zi Zheng
Zi is the Creative Director at BYPPO. He oversees all creative endeavors and works closely with marketing, content writing, and strategy. He's also obsessed about photography, tennis, chess and fiction writing!

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