There are two things we know about Millennials and how they choose restaurants. One, rarely do they make a dining decision (or any decision, really) without consulting their phones. Two, whether the experience was great or not so great, they’re probably going to share it in social media.
So how do restaurants leverage their online and social media marketing presence to attract and retain this elusive audience?
Here’s a quick look at what’s on the menu:
- Get social with your restaurant experience.
Bring the brand to life authentically on your social media channels.
- Be digitally integrated.
Give them the tools to make the dining decision easier.
- Highlight your social responsibility.
Show who you are, not just what you serve.
Bring your brand to life in social
To Millennials, a restaurant is more than just a place to eat, it’s a place to hang. A social experience. When the crew gets together, they’re searching for a share-worthy experience first – food second. Not that food quality isn’t important, it is. It’s just one part of the overall experience. They want to feel at home, relaxed and understood – think Central Perk from Friends. No dress codes or white tablecloths for this group. They want an experience to share online, so give them the opportunity to capture it at your restaurant. Whatever makes you unique. Your table setting, food plating, even interior/exterior design elements. Find and focus on iconic things that people will want to snap a photo to share. If the experience creates a buzz, more people will want to come and see it firsthand – not just through their screen.
@irenesaustin located in Austin, TX. Irene’s is known for fresh drinks, a lively, retro atmosphere and an assortment of comfort food meets American cuisine brunch plates. Plus, there’s a story behind this iconic ivy wall. The charming restaurant is named after the owner’s grandmother and the joint mirrors the personality of its namesake.
@shakeshack located in Dallas, TX. This east coast chain is definitely a spot for burger lovers in Dallas. The presentation on a simple metal tray and signature crinkle fries are frequently snapped and shared.
@mrpurpleNYC located in NYC. There are countless rooftop bars in New York City, but what sticks out about this posh, scenic bar is two-fold: the unforgettable name and its elevated bar food and cocktails. A place to spend Saturday afternoon, Mr. Purple is often popping up on news feeds.
Successful restaurant marketers are bringing their in-restaurant experience to life on social. What’s your restaurant’s vibe? Is it fun and loud? Be fun and loud in social. The trick here is to be authentic. Don’t portray something that your customers won’t experience when they step through the door.
Facebook, with its sheer strength of numbers, is still a great platform for reaching Millennials, but Instagram and Snapchat are atop the social relevance test for this group. Instagram is the quintessential “food-porn” platform and Snapchat geo-targeted filters are a low-cost, high impact way to encourage sharing during the restaurant experience.
To sum up, be real, be relevant, post often and have fun with your messaging. Don’t shove advertising in their face hoping they’ll bite because they won’t. These guys have a finely-tuned BS sensor, so be authentic, be personable and be engaging.
Be digitally integrated
When it comes to Millennials, make sure you’re checking off all the mobile-first boxes: online ordering, reserving a table online or even paying on-the-go. This digital-savvy generation not only loves it but expects it.
Apps like Open Table are often the first step in deciding where to meet for dinner. Any tool to engage them before they step in the door makes them hungrier for a great time. Also, don’t be afraid to use social media to improve your digital processes. Have a conversation and get them involved, find out where improvements are needed and what’s important to them.
Highlighting social responsibility is also key to connecting with Millennials and is a big part of the overall experience. Do you give a portion of proceeds to a charity? Partner with a food bank? Serve locally/sustainably sourced ingredients? Millennials like to eat with a purpose. Find yours and don’t be shy about sharing it. Just remember to do it authentically, as you must understand what your customers value before engaging them. Technology comes into play here. Sharing what your brand stands for on your website or social media shows the importance you put on social responsibility and the capacity to provide opportunities to connect beyond the food.
Nothing is more important to Millennials than sharing a memorable time with each other. Make sure your restaurant marketing messaging connects authentically with your restaurant experience and go from there. They’re after good food that is just the beginning of a special experience.