If you are a child of the 80s or 90s, it is impossible to forget the resounding “Norm!” from the bar in Cheers. The greeting is ingrained in those memories connected to our childhoods as “Did I do that?” or the Full House theme song. That one line teaches us an important message: the restaurant is a place of familiarity and community. It is a place where people make connections and memories. Everyone has a favorite restaurant and memories tied to food. Restaurants are central to the fabric of a community. So much goes on in a restaurant that makes them important in the lives of the people they serve.
It is in this way that restaurants find success. When they embrace the role of community hub, restaurants can and will thrive. Main Streets from coast to coast are lined with restaurants filled with locals and out of town visitors. Restaurants are woven into the very fabric of a city. Every neighborhood has those places that have revitalized and changed the area.
Engagement with the Community
A restaurant acts as an active and engaged member of the community in a way that encourages both loyalty and involvement, much like a good friend. This can be done by hosting charity nights, fundraisers, and sponsoring community events. The unique positioning of restaurants, with their large gathering spaces and food on the premises, makes them ideal for community events. Restaurants can give back to the community in simple ways: a percentage back to a cause, discounted food, free space rental, and more.
Social Media as a Tool
Social media has made engagement with the community easier than ever before. There are two things that make social media an attractive time and money investment for restaurants: a way to disperse information about the restaurant itself as well as a way to share information about the community events. Social media does often have financial costs associated with it, but those costs are more than often worth it. We recommend hiring a social media consultant or management to make sure you are making the most of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Someone with social media savvy can help a restaurant navigate the social media sphere and put forth relevant and interesting content that builds the restaurant’s brand.
So what simple steps can a restaurant take to become more engaged in the community? Find a way to support and embrace any special interests in the area. As an example if art is a huge draw, host a fundraiser night for the local art program. Use social media to advertise and share the event information. Want to share new menu items or drink specials? Share the info on social media with photos of the food.
Here’s an example: Your restaurant wants to host a teachers’ night. A great way to get this information out to the public is through a Facebook event that you promote through paid ads. Using targeted keywords like teacher, the name of your school district, school, and more you can narrow down who is seeing the ad to make the most of your money. Use the events page to share more information like food and drink specials, live music, and answer any questions people have. The added bonus is once people show interest or RSVP yes in your event it will be shared with their friends. Facebook events are an easy way to reach a large audience on a limited budget.
Community involvement and social media tie together nicely in a way that increases a restaurant’s relevancy in the community. Take a minute to share ways you have used social media to make your restaurant an important part of the community.