5 Social Media Contests That Bring Traffic To Restaurants
Your restaurant is on Social Media, but are you seeing results?
You started a Facebook Page, then one of your employees started a Twitter account for your restaurant and just this week that same employee also set up a Google Plus Page. Some of your guests told you they saw your Facebook Page, but you hardly saw an increase in customers this year.
A lot of restaurants are in this position.
They have done a bit here and there, they share a couple posts a week, or maybe even a couple tweets a day, but there is no plan, and no immediate benefit in sight. The Social Media Stars have to be lined up to bring you success, fortunately you can line up those stars.
Contests are the way to bring traffic to your social media channels, bring immediate awareness to the coolness factor of your restaurant and it gives the boost to people to come in now. Contests help your restaurant stand out online, it can increase the awareness and coolness factor of your restaurant, and it creates a reason for people who hear about the contest to interact with your restaurant right now.
So with that we bring you 5 contest ideas that have been or still are very successful for other restaurants.
# 1: Giveaway promoted inside your restaurant.
Inside the Cuban restaurant Havana Central, in Manhattan you can read and hear about their Giveaway Campaign to ‘Win a Free One Hour Open Bar for You and 9 of Your Friends.’ There are three ways contestants can enter the giveaway: 1st by Liking the Facebook page and writing ‘Open Bar’ on their Facebook wall*; 2nd by following the restaurant on Twitter and tweeting ‘@havanacentral Open Bar'; or lastly by signing up for their email list. Promoting a giveaway to your guests on the table, on signage or in the menu, makes most of your guests aware of it – and it helps get a lot of people participating in the campaign. It is great to bring awareness about the existence of your Facebook Page and other marketing channels, so you can be engaged with your guests when they are not in your restaurant.
*Updated: You are not allowed according to Facebook rules and regulations to have anyone enter a contest by writing on the Facebook wall, or liking a page or a post. What you can do is have someone fill out a form on the table in the restaurant as their formal way of entering and ask them as a condition to participate to either write on the wall OR tweet OR sign up for their mailing list. Thanks to Alice for sharing the link where you can read more about what’s allowed when you are doing Facebook contests.
#2: Facebook Vote for Fan of the Week
Let’s Yo Yogurt in Marlboro, NJ holds an ongoing “Let’s YO Fan of the Week” contest on Facebook. Customers take pictures of themselves with their favorite flavor of yogurt and post it to Facebook. People online can vote for their favorite picture. The person who gets the most votes wins a week’s worth of yogurt. Many people share these pictures with their friends, and it creates a viral effect. People will find out about this yoghurt place by seeing their friends post pictures on Facebook. Smart! Another example is Biggby Coffee, a coffee chain in the Midwest has their customers upload pictures from their travels around the world showing the Biggby Cup.
#3: Offer a Groupon deal
While many restaurants have lost money on Groupon deals, others gained new customers from it. But I will not recommend Groupon to just promote anything you offer for a sharp discount. It has to make sense. And for it to make sense, it’s better to come up with a Groupon unique offer that will not hurt your ongoing business. Can you organize a VIP party night with lots of food for a special price, offer a brunch? Or even offer baking classes at night, like New York City’s Butter Lane Cupcakes that offers two-hour class for 12 students at a time. Come up with a creative offering and use Groupon to attract the masses.
#4: Offer a discount for specific people every day
Let’s Yo Yogurt which is featured above, also features the “Let’s YO! Name Fame” game on Facebook. They pick a name every day and customers with the same name receive 50% off on a cup of yogurt. When people with the name of the day come in to get their discounted yogurt, they usually bring non-qualifying customers with them and increase your foot traffic.
#5: Value your customers checkins’ on Location based networks
Foursquare and Gowalla are probably the largest mobile communities that appreciates people checking into a restaurant, and offer them a reason to come back for more. Scvngr is a platform like FourSquare where people can check in and do challenges inside the restaurant that the restaurant owner or other guests have set up.
“Each customer comes in about 2.4 times in two months, that’s more frequent than our other guests who may come in five or six times a year.” – Christopher Mahl, senior vice president of brands at Scvngr. He attributes the increase to mobile users who are checking in or exchanging information using an app that that allows them to “bump” phones.
If you haven’t set your restaurant up on these location based networks, set it up, in most instances your restaurant is already on there, as your customers will take care of that. You can see how many people check in to your restaurant and how often. Offer the person who visits your restaurant most often (The Mayor) – a gift, maybe a free drink or a free appetizer or recognition – this motivates other people to become the mayor and therefore come back often to get that title. The Matador in Fullerton California does that really well, they promote the mayor of their restaurant on large screen TV’s behind the bar.
You can also offer a freebie to people who come in after a number of times, so when they come in for the 5th or 10th time they unlock a freebie. Another great incentive to have people coming back for more.
So, there you have it. 5 contest ideas that will bring in traffic to your restaurant.
It’s not enough to just create an amazing contest, you need to promote it. If people are not aware of your contest, they are not able to participate or spread the word about the contest to their friends and family – the people you are trying to reach. So make sure you promote it and bring awareness to it to your guests and on your marketing channels.
Have you had any success with contests? I love to hear about it in the comments underneath.