Customers can spread the word about where they are eating through social networks like Facebook, Yelp, Google+ and Twitter, and “check-in” at restaurants via GPS-enabled smartphones.
Restaurant owners and managers can set up discounts, exclusive offers, and other enticements to encourage social check-ins in their restaurants – and they should! We’ve come up with 4 reasons to encourage social check-ins that the restaurant industry can’t afford to ignore.
Connecting through social check-ins can help your restaurant with new customers as well as existing ones. Satisfied guests can review your site on crowd-sourced pages like Yelp, which have become essential to maintaining a good reputation online.
Searches for restaurants through review-based sites are rarely just for research purposes. The majority of searches on these sites lead to an action – users will choose a restaurant that fits their criteria and go there for their next meal.
Your restaurant’s ranking and reviews on these pages will have a significant impact on the searcher’s choice. By maintaining a consistent and positive online presence, which includes receiving good reviews from happy customers, these search results will work in your favor. Also, a strong baseline of positive reviews will offset any negative reviews that may come your way.
Social check-ins can complement an existing customer loyalty program, or even be your basis for starting a new one. Both strategies are useful ways to increase your restaurant’s online visibility, encourage engagement, and improve customer retention.
“Any company that has customers checking in regularly is ripe for linking a loyalty program to a location-based service,” Aaron Strout, head of location-based marketing at WCG World, told Inc. “Nearly any business could benefit from combining the power of these two types of loyalty programs.”
Combining these two strategies could include offering discounts or specials when a guest checks in for the first time, or loyalty incentives for customers who return to the restaurant and check in over multiple visits.
Tracking and analyzing social check-ins can help to calculate the effectiveness of your social media and marketing campaigns.
Check-in data can help even small and mid-sized establishments identify important factors like guest habits, customer engagement, and trends more accurately. Understanding this information can also help restaurateurs identify their ideal customers and tailor future marketing efforts specifically to them.
Checking in at a restaurant through Facebook includes a post that is visible to that user’s friends. In other words, by posting about their visit to your store, your guests are providing free advertising to a group of people that may not even know your restaurant exists.
Facebook marketer Jon Loomer points out that the check-in can lead interested users to a deeper level of engagement beyond the initial post.
Since every Facebook check-in also links to your Facebook page, anyone intrigued by a friend’s post can click through, learn more about your restaurant, and “like” your page.
Social check-ins also reinforce your restaurant’s credibility and authenticity. When potential guests are searching online for a new place to eat, a large number of check-ins and positive reviews will demonstrate the popularity of your location and make it more enticing.