How Your Restaurant Employees can Boost Your Digital Marketing
Here's a secret to vastly improving your digital marketing results without spending a single penny more!
Seriously, most restaurateurs and digital marketing agencies don't realize the tremendous asset that is available for free at their disposal and can be a key contributor to improving results easily.
your staff is a huge asset to your restaurant marketing
Your staff is a huge store of social media goodwill assets. They are skilled, friendly, attractive, and engage with your customers and patrons giving them incredible dining experiences. If they can do this in actual customer engagements in restaurants, bars, clubs, discos, pubs, nightclubs, bakeries, and any other kind of establishment. Your team is a huge resource waiting to be tapped. They can share recipes, do cocktail tricks videos, show off their skills and knowledge which are very popular on social media.
Not only that by showing off your employees, but your social media messaging also becomes more real, credible, and authentic. Improvement of results can be instant and dramatic.
This is what happened during a restaurant photoshoot
In one of my many photoshoots for a restaurant, I wanted to shoot the chef (with my camera :-) ). The owner of the restaurant was dead against the idea. He probably thought that I would be wasting my time of shooting people rather than shooting his products (food and drinks). I persisted and, eventually, he gave in.
Btw, the photo, in this case, is not from the above restaurant. You see, I don't want to disclose the identity of the restaurant as my customer might be offended.
In this photoshoot, I shot over nineteen food and drinks items. And, I took about nine photos of the chef. We decided to test out the effectiveness of the shoot on social media.
Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of employees like chefs, bartenders, waiters has become even more important. As restaurants reopen, posts on employees will become even more important to get more customers and footfalls. Even during the pandemic, social media posts on employees can be a powerful tool to keep your target audience engaged and keep alive your brand!. Read here on how to future-proof your restaurant business
real people Vs real food & drinks
We started off posting the food photos first on both Instagram and Facebook. The engagement was good showing about a 20% increase in the engagement from the previous set of photographs. That was encouraging.
Now, although I had a strong hunch that the chef's photo would add a human element to the content I wasn't sure about using these photos as it had been shot hurriedly in bad lighting conditions. At this time, I began toying with the idea of actually testing photos of the chef with different levels of quality. I mean, should I retouch the photos or leave them as they were shot.
I decided that it would be a good idea to create various conditions and test them. The results were eye-opening and great learning.
actual results on social media were exciting
a) Posts of the Chef - We carefully worked on the best photo of the chef in Affinity Photo and removed shadows, improved skin tone etc. We posted this on both Facebook and Instagram. The results were stunning - a 60% increase in engagement on Instagram and about 340% increase in likes on Facebook. We took one of the worst shots of the chef and posted it without retouching. Surprisingly, there was hardly any difference in the engagement.
And, it did much better than the absolutely gorgeous food and drinks photos.
b) Set of Product Photos - We took 4 to 6 images of different dishes and drinks and posted these on Facebook, The engagement and reach was about 25% more than single photos. That was certainly encouraging but were not close to the huge engagement of single photos of the chef.
c) Set of Product Photos with Chef's Photo - We then posted multiple photos with the leading photo being that of the chef which were followed by product photos. The results were stunning. The average engagement and reach were consistently higher by at least 3 times and sometimes even 10x!
Interpretation of the results of products Vs people posts
Clearly, the audience liked the posts of the chef better than all the carefully plated and gorgeously shot food and drink items. Even the set of photos with the leading photo of the chef worked dramatically better. So what's going on?
There's no dearth of good food photos on Instagram and Facebook. In fact, even beginners with high-quality smartphones take breathtaking shots of food and drinks in bad lighting. Today's generation is no longer interested in just photos. They need a story. A hook which will make them stop swiping up, take notice and tap on the 'like' button.
Moreover, food and drinks photos can be from stock photos and today's social media generation doesn't care about purchased stock photos or even photos from a hired professional photographer. It has to be 'real' for them.
Posting that photo of the chef made it real. It was a real person, a real chef and that also provided a storyline. It also became the hook for them to stop swiping up and taking notice.
Story Vs Sales - What Works on Social Media
Social media is primarily a platform for users to share experiences. Neither Facebook nor Instagram had a revenue stream for many years and, instead, focused on user experiences and growing communities. With improving user-experiences, rapidly refining of algorithms and enhancement of smartphones and internet bandwidth the user communities grew rapidly. As the communities grew, it was a growing opportunity for businesses to propagate their businesses.
Most business owners focused only on selling. The posts were all about how good the product or the service was. These type of posts were different and were against the type of posts which social media users were posting. Over time, most users were being bombarded by multiple businesses and became immune to it.
Most of us put up an instant, imaginary barrier to a sales pitch. I guess a post of a beautifully plated dish heaped with platitudes appears to be a sales pitch. A post of photos of food and drink but with an image of those creating it comes out as a story and not a sales pitch,
These are the reasons why posts with employees like chefs, bartenders, servers at the place of work does well in social media. It certainly helps if your chef or servers are photogenic. However, just doing photos of products gets boring.
So go ahead and get the people at the back out in front!