5 tips for effective web and social media restaurant pages
Owners and managers of restaurants, pubs and café bars have a lot on their plates these days, juggling the many demands on their time so giving some serious thought to what's on their web pages is something many just don't have time for.
Thankfully, online pages across a range of platforms can be created quickly and easily, and with our five tips the job will be a breeze.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, but for a restaurant's page to be compelling it needs to have some words, too. Not just any old words, mind, as writing too much, not enough or the wrong thing will do little to generate trade.
Decide what you want to say, and crucially, why you want to say it. Typically a restaurateur will want to describe what diners can expect, from a number of perspectives including the building, ambience, décor, staff and menu. Decide which of these are your business's biggest strengths and talk about them in that order.
Keep it simple. Readers are notorious for having short attention spans and a dislike of big words, lots of paragraphs and descriptions more akin to a novel. Use short, punchy sentences and don't use two words if one will do.
Grammar and spelling. There's nothing worse, in web page terms at least, than spelling mistakes, sentences which don't make sense or apostrophes in the wrong places. Get someone to proof read everything before the page goes live.
Everyone loves a picture, especially on websites or social media pages. We won't get into psychology here, but visitors to your page may actually glean more about you from your photographs than the text.
Use good quality photographs, preferably taken by a professional. If a professional is out of reach, then read up on the best lighting angles and critique what will be in shot (many a good photo is ruined by, say, the trash bins in the background).
Show off your best assets, in line with what you're saying with your wording.
Keep it truthful. A little bit of image enhancement will make your photographs “pop”, but add the odd church spire or celebrity chef using Photoshop and you'll just disappoint customers when the visit. The same goes for food photos: don't use library photos.
Show human interest. A carefully planned shoot can easily include some customers or staff, if you get their consent beforehand. Viewers like to imagine people like themselves in your restaurant, enjoying what you're promoting, so paint a picture of a vibrant, people-centric establishment.
So, you've uploaded some really lovely wording and great photographs. That's it, right? Well, yes and no. You've included some facts and truths about your business, but to transform a rather two-dimensional page into something with real depth, you need to give visitors a glimpse of the restaurant's and your own personality. Customers really feel comfortable hearing a back-story.
Give a small amount of background. Who are the owners? What did they do before? What drove them to do what they're doing? What are their key values?
Be honest about goals and visions, by explaining what you're aiming for.
If your page has a news or blog section, or if you're likely to create social media posts, drop in the occasional story about staff or customers.
Online menus have come a long way since the days of downloadable PDF files on web pages. Sure, the contemporary customer wants to see your menu but why stop there? In the 21st century would-be diners like to go a step further and not only book their table online, but pre-book their dishes too.
There are a variety of inexpensive and easy to use software products available which can be embedded in your web pages to encourage the conversions from visitors to bookers.
Let others do the selling
We live within a sharing economy, where customers will voice their opinions with transparency on review sharing sites such as TripAdvisor. Positive reviews are a great way to convince your page's visitors to take the next step by clicking the “book now” button or reaching for the phone.
At its simplest, displayed reviews could just be the odd quote or two. For a small to medium-sized independent restaurant, pub or café bar we'd suggest a couple of your best quotes on your page. Don't be tempted to include the whole quote, however, as visitors to your page just want to get the essence of the customers' views. Here's a page which shows good use of this technique (but we are a bit biased about this one!).
For restaurateurs wishing to better manage their reviews, there is software available designed to inspire them to take on a proactive approach. You’ll receive alerts the moment a customer posts a review, allowing you to engage with their feedback in real time.
It has never been easier for restaurants, pubs and café bars to have a web page, be it in on their own website or any of the social media platforms. Unfortunately, it has also never been easier for that page to a poor example.
With the right words and pictures added after some serious thought about what they should convey, there's no reason why owners of these businesses shouldn't have a page worthy of the best establishment. Simplicity is key, together with human interest and genuine reviews.
Final thoughts: Don't forget the basics. It is surprising how many great web pages fail to do their job because the designer has forgotten to add address, phone number, email address and opening hours.
favouritetable is the leading provider of easy to install, easy to use restaurant management software, designed to make owners' lives easier and more efficient. For over a decade, favouritetable has provided world-class and commission-free systems to enable restaurants, pubs, bars and other businesses to maximise their revenue and create seamless workflows which make owners, staff and customers happy.
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