If you want kick-ass social media, don't start with your social media plan.

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Social media marketing is a financially feasible blessing for restaurant brands everywhere. But if you’re not hitting your unique social sweet spot, it can be costly. Not just for promoted posts but the "free" ones, too. Because wasting time you don't have to spare ain't free, amirite?
 
Instead of posting into an abyss, feeling overwhelmed, or avoiding social media completely, there is something you can do to make it work for you. Here’s where you start.

 

1. Know thyself.

Think hard about why you do what you do. What you stand for? What are you opposed to? What makes you different from other shops offering a similar product? What's the personality and purpose of your brand? Are you amusing? Edgy? Zen? Inspiring? Start to articulate a set of core values and descriptive criteria for what your brand is about.

 

2. Know thy customer.

Get a very clear picture of who you're talking to. What is the age range you are addressing? What does your customer care about? What does she aspire to and how does your product or service contribute to that goal? Once you know your audience, you will know how your brand can play a part in her ideal lifestyle. Make this connection and you’ve converted her to a loyal customer who wants to tell her friends about you. Miss it and you can kiss the sweet (free) nectar of the Social Media Gods goodbye.

 

3. Don't just be yourself.

People are always talking about "authenticity," but often misinterpret it as speaking on social media the way you would talk to a friend. From a marketing perspective, authenticity is really about consistency.

Once you've established your brand criteria and you understand the aspirational lifestyle you represent, use it to create a set of visual criteria that align. If you need inspiration, look to other brands that capture that lifestyle. This works better if the brands you look to aren't other restaurant brands. You don't want to copy a competitor, you want inspiration from unrelated brands that represent the same lifestyle you do.

Once you have your vision, stick to it. Use image filters consistently, background textures, brand colors for overlays, selected fonts for quotes or messages. Establishing both emotional and aesthetic standards keeps everything aligned and fosters familiarity. 
 

 

It comes down to this...

Consistency + Familiarity = Brand Authenticity.

This level of trust is similar to knowing what a good friend would say and what she wouldn’t say. Brand posts are designed to be consistent with your personality on every social media outlet and off-line. The places where you connect with people change with each message and intended audience, but you don’t. This identity is reflected off-line as well. You don't want to give people one impression of your brand personality on social that feels disconnected when they visit you in person.

 

 

To brand, literally means to make a mark. To make a mark on social media, you have to start before posting—or even planning. You have to start with branding. But once you get this key element defined, the money and the time you spend on social media will go a lot further.

If this process is challenging for you, or you're too close to it to see things clearly, give us a shout. We’ll nail it for you, and help you see things differently too.

 

Co-written by Lisa Richmon and Mara Lubell