If there is one thing Myrtle Beach area does not lack is definitely food. There are more than 1,700 restaurants spread throughout the Grand Strand, offering from local seafood fresh from the boat, to exquisite fine dining and everything in between. There are more restaurants per capita in the Myrtle Beach area than there are in San Francisco. All these Myrtle Beach area restaurants create a rich dining offer for the millions of tourists and visitors, but it creates something else, too: competition.

As a restaurant owner, you have to discover new marketing opportunities and find ways to stand out from the crowd. Social Media marketing may prove to be a very useful addition to your marketing efforts, helping you reach out to more people and engage with them. Not every social media channel  fits into your overall marketing strategy, and the decision of which one to approach and spend time on is based on your understanding of how to effectively connect with your customers.

Before we delve into more information about using social media marketing for a restaurant, you need to understand how important it is to create and promote consistent messages across all platforms, while at the same time taking advantage of the characteristics of each social media channel.

1. Engage customers on Facebook

Ruth Chris Stake Facebook PageChances are you are already on Facebook. Chances are also that most of your employees are on Facebook. But don't make the mistake to think that any of your employees is able to handle the Facebook page for your restaurant. When it comes to your restaurant we are talking about a brand, relationships with customers belonging to various demographics, which is so much different than the college friends most of the young graduates are used with. Handling a restaurant Facebook page requires professionalism and knowledge and it is way more than simply posting food pictures of nice dishes.

Facebook engagement is important for any restaurant in Myrtle Beach. The best way to create engagement is to make posts that are sometimes funny (always good taste) and informative, while trying to create and promote the sense of community. The restaurant does not exist like a singularity, up in the air. It is a business in a community with people who have feelings and pride. Make sure your restaurant engages on Facebook not only customers, but local residents, too.

2. Create viral content

OK, I admit, it is hard to create something viral since viral is an attribute no one can control. It just happens. I have seen great content posted on social media that did not take off at all, while other things became viral when nobody expected it to happen. Remember the South Korean "Gangnam Style?" That doesn't mean that you just "post and pray." You still have to be proactive if you want to give your posts a chance to become viral on social media. There are so many interesting things in Myrtle Beach that a clever restaurant owner can cling to and use for a great video, for example. But make sure you include these strategies if you want to put your restaurant on the social media map:

  • Create viral seeds by cultivating the fan base and adding followers of good quality. There is no way for your video to be recommended on a large scale if most of your fans have small networks and aren't influential at all. Peer review is a powerful concept only provided there are peers involved, right?
  • Start a campaign to get your most influential followers engaged with your content. Once you have the seeds in place, it's time to engage them and get them to share your content
  • Promote your content to the media. Media will be dragged into the story by the great number of views and shares.

It helps to build an online community prior to promoting content in an effort to turn it viral. A community involves trust and gives your content more chances to take off. Do not try to game or fake, social media is highly sensitive to these aspects and it will surely hurt your restaurant business and ruin your reputation.

3. Encourage customers to Instagram your food

Bonefish Grill Instagram
Bonefish Grill Instagram
Capture the imagination of the customers and grab media's attention by capitalizing on images posted on Instagram. Having customers post pictures on Instagram is even better than doing it yourself, since this strategy taps into the power of peer review and offers your restaurant exposure to your customers' friends. This was you amplify your message and get more exposure for your restaurant for free. Encourage customers to post using a specific hashtag you select to represent your brand. You can also add #myr since this is the most used hashtag for the Myrtle Beach area.

There are numerous ways local restaurants on the Grand Strand can use social media to connect with their target audiences. A successful social media strategy should include monitoring social media for the Myrtle Beach area conversations. As a restaurant owner you need to make sure you answer people's questions or concerns and manage negative comments quickly, before they hurt the business and alienate potential customers. Connect social media with your restaurant's email marketing efforts and get a powerful combination that can give you the edge you need to stand out from the crowd and put your restaurant on the Myrtle Beach map.