By Steven Chester
Your servers, back-of-house staff and hosts are often your restaurant’s biggest supporters, so keeping your staff encouraged and motivated is paramount. One key way to keep your employees engaged is through an effective social media strategy.
The first step to bringing your restaurant employees into the social media fold is encouragement. While some of your staff may be already happily snapping away and posting photos to their personal social media feeds, many may have some trepidation in crossing the personal/professional boundary. Some may not even understand how to tap into your community. Be sure to encourage your restaurant staff to not only post, but tag themselves and others within photos, and share great guest experiences where applicable. Tagging other users will send them notifications that they’ve been mentioned, which buttresses that sense of community that helps a good social network thrive.
Ensure that your restaurant has a strong presence beforehand, and don’t hesitate to use local food-related hashtags so that more users jump in and join the conversation. This also casts the net wider to local foodies who may wish to visit your establishment. Make sure your staff knows where to find you — ensure they’ve liked your Facebook page, and are following you on Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Have a social media point person
If you have a manager at your office who is well-versed in social media, make them the point person. Across all platforms, a strong majority of users tend to sit back and watch the conversations rather than be vocal. With a little bit of reassurance and guidance, you may quickly turn a novice, passive user into a social media powerhouse.
Give your staff something fun to do. Encourage them to take selfies at events or on any special promo nights, or develop a gamification strategy where they’re competing for the most outrageous shot via a hashtag competition. Let them show their personalities; showcasing their interests and skillsets will add a human touch to your brand.
Set a social media policy
Be sure to set some guidelines of what can and cannot be posted. Rules and bureaucracy may in turn siphon away some of that fun, but some simple guidelines as to what is and what is not acceptable will be in order. Consider having fun with it and showcasing some extremes of what not to do. Be sure that management are the only team members who are responding to customer comments.
Remember, while young staff may be well-versed and not even know a world without social media, their business acumen may be lacking. You may need to set guidelines for use on their personal accounts as well, as any negativity that could be traced back to your business may potentially be damaging.
Acknowledge the effort
Now that your restaurant staff are involved, don’t forget about your own role. Part of your encouragement will be keeping on top of your own restaurant’s notifications on each channel so that you’re sharing, congratulating and monitoring your staff’s efforts. Your endorsement goes a long way.
Your restaurant staff aren’t typical social media followers. They could, however, be your future leaders. By putting in some effort, a plugged-in restaurant staff will not only boost your social media reach and attract new customers but could also be your most effective marketing vehicle.
About the author:
Steven Chester is the Digital Media Director of MediaEdge Communications. With 15 years’ experience in cross-platform communications, Steven helps companies expand their reach through social media and other digital initiatives. To contact him directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org.