As much as you would like it to be the case, you customers don’t live in and eat every meal in your restaurant. They eat some of their meals at home or worse, with your competition. The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive industries there is and margins can be tight. Every competitive advantage helps keep the doors open another day. Restaurants can leverage technology to connect with their audience even when they aren’t in the restaurant itself and going live (a.ka. live streaming) is one of the best strategies for staying connected that very few are taking advantage of. If you’re looking to transform your business and get more diners eating at your restaurant regularly, you’ll want to consider going live as part of your marketing strategy.
What is Going Live?
Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have enabled technology that allows anyone and everyone of their users to stream live video from their mobile device or Internet connected computer. Live streaming is gaining popularity quickly as businesses and individuals can share experiences in real-time. Fans can now share the action at their favorite sports competition from their perspective. Anyone can share live “news” as it happens. Families can stream birthdays and other important events for those that couldn’t attend. Businesses can share behind the scenes action, events, special announcements and live testimonials with their connected fanbase. All of these can be planned or impromptu adding to the allure of this technology. Live streaming is also less polished, and therefore comes across as more authentic. Authenticity is a the heart of any strong relationship and something your restaurant will want to leverage.
Rule number one for marketing activities is to go where your audience is. Primarily this will mean looking at the “big three” social platforms, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and focusing on where you’ll get the most reach and engagement. Each one has their own live streaming capabilities. Facebook’s is arguably the most mature and interesting as it allows social sharing and easy engagement with the live streamer.
Live streams on Facebook have the potential to go viral beyond your audience, those who like your business page, as they share the stream and invite their friends. Instagram is also important, where many restaurants have a large following on Instagram based on food photography. Twitter is always a contender and solid platform for live streaming.
Connecting with these audiences during the live streams to answer questions and to reply to comments will make your customers feel like they’re interacting with you right at the restaurant. They will feel special as if they’ve been let in on a secret. Over time you’ll find the type of content that resonates most with your viewers, whether it’s events, a few moments of “what’s going on now” or conversations with the owner or staff that connect with your customers. Over-index on what’s working and keep testing to maintain engagement.
A key driver of human behavior is FOMO (fear of missing out). A live stream can convert the undecided diner into a paying customer in minutes once they can see what is going on or are able to ask questions of you. Your customer won’t have to wonder what their experience will be like and yet they’ll be left with doubt regarding your competitors even if they didn’t have it before your live stream.
If your restaurant isn’t full or is having an off night, a stream of the kitchen or special on the stove can prove to be enticing for a customer on the fence. A greeting by the owner or from a staff member that regulars enjoy interacting with can also spark the desire for a visit. The possibilities are endless and as open as your imagination is.
A key benefit of going live through social media live streaming is that the social media platforms will automatically notify your fans automatically if you’re going live to help attract an audience while you’re streaming.All things being equal, Facebook is the best starting point to test what works and get feedback. Furthermore, once your live stream is over, it can be saved to Facebook and then downloaded to be used as marketing collateral and content for posts on other platforms.
A Simple 2 Step Strategy For Going Live
For restaurants, we recommend going live on Facebook first unless Instagram has a much larger audience. If you have more than one device you can use both platforms! The reason for choosing these two are that Facebook Live and Instagram Live are the most feature rich and generally for social media, restaurants have spent time and money building your audience on those platforms.
Step 1: Go live!
First, schedule at one weekly livestream that your fans can count on, and announce it on your social channels. Have a theme, whether it’s the menu for the week, a contest or a Q & A session if your chef is a celebrity or frequently interacts with guests. Remember, be relevant and authentic. For a planned session, 10 to 15 minutes is long enough.
Additionally, plan for at least one weekly impromptu live stream based on scheduling, what’s going on with your business or what will likely grab someone’s attention the minute they start watching. Impromptu live streams should be a couple of minutes so they can gain momentum and should end when engagement starts to taper off or the “event” is over.
While Twitter and YouTube are great for live streaming, they are better for other industries.
Step 2: Republish Your Live Content
Your content doesn’t have to be short-lived. You can download your livestream from Facebook and republish it to your other audiences or places where your customers are likely to look for more information about you. This can include your web site, Twitter, YouTube, and even LinkedIn as part of your company page or personal profile. Instagram live streams can’t be saved, but you can republish your Facebook video on Instagram for future engagement.
Republishing your live content increases it’s reach and discoverability. Furthermore, it’s likely to come up in search or embedded in other sites, posts and blogs written by fans, industry web sites or the press.
Fear is the number one reason for not incorporating video into marketing plans. There is no one size fits all strategy for live stream, so as we mentioned, continually test, learn and repeat consistently. The fear of not knowing what to say, or of not looking good on camera or even the fear of making a mistake stops most business owners and marketing professionals from taking the first step with live streaming.
You’ll gain momentum as you incorporate live streams into your marketing strategy and set yourself apart from your competition. Customers may even request to join in on the fun or start their own live streams from your restaurant based on the example you set. As engagement increases so will your revenue as you become a focal point in your customers lives. Attention is the name of the game, and this is a game you’ll be winning.
Let us know how it goes. We would love to hear about your success! Good luck!
Also published on Medium.