3 Reasons Why Restaurants Fail on Twitter

Editor’s Note: This is the first (of many) posts by Michael Lis. He’s among a new slate of Social Media Club bloggers in 2014. Learn more about the editorial team

I’m not a restaurant owner nor do I play one on Twitter, but if you own a restaurant then you should pay close attention to this post because, for each reason, I have a solution for success.

From what I’ve heard from restaurant owners the food business isn’t easy. It’s a grind. Making sure the food is good and dealing with an array of service issues keeps a lot of restaurants owners up 24/7.

For many restaurant owners Twitter is a great channel for low-budget word of mouth marketing. So why is it that when I talk to restaurant owners across the country the successes they see on Twitter are small? I am discouraged seeing a graveyard of abandoned restaurant Twitter accounts.

Of many reasons why restaurants fail on Twitter, I want to highlight three and offer solutions for success.

1. Consistency

Social media is a daily grind.

A business should tweet 3-5 times a day.

Many restaurant owners join Twitter with the best of intentions and pass tweeting duties to a hostess or manager. Before long, a restaurant will tweet once a week, monthly, or never.

My Solution: Designate 20 minutes each day for restaurant tweeting. If someone else does it, ensure it’s among daily responsibilities such as covering up the perishables at night.

Twitter has become an ocean of tweets — and in order to be heard, consistency is king.

2. Storytelling

Fans want to hear your story.

Many restaurants fall into the trap of tweeting food images and promotions, which all too often is brushed over by fans or potential customers.

If every restaurant has a beautiful picture of a burger, what makes one burger stand out from the rest?

My Solution: Approach food images and promotions from a storytelling lens. For example, instead of tweeting the finished burger, tweet a picture of the burger’s ingredients or the type of beef prior to cooking.

Use a caption for that picture, such as, “Our Texas Burger begins with onions and green chiles and the finished burger is waiting for you.”

The story starts and ends with the fan coming in to see the burger.

A great example of storytelling through social media is The Grilled Cheese Truck.

Owner Dave Danhi uses Twitter to tell the story about each grilled cheese sandwich he creates. Glance at his tweets and learn his approach.

“We cleared 13,000 followers in five months. Twitter is nothing short of amazing. But following the tweets can be a full-time job. We get 500 tweets a day at the minimum.”

3. Acknowledge customers

Many fans and customers follow a restaurant to be acknowledged. The pitfall is that peak Twitter feedback usually arrives during busy times.

Restaurants often forget to respond to tweets because the whole staff is serving food — and customers feel neglected.

My Solution: Create a timed window for customer responses. For instance, you could tweet, “We want to hear from you, How were today’s fish tacos? Join us us for #FishTacoChat at 2 pm.”

What do you think? Have you experienced these issues as a restaurant owner or manager? Which approach works best for you?