Consumer spending on Halloween reaches frighteningly high levels - nearly $6 billion to be precise. Holidays like this can be a fantastic way to re-engage with old customers and get new ones through your restaurant door. However, their potential doesn’t need to stop there. Using social media, you can allow their impact to last much longer. Halloween is the perfect example of showing how restaurants can make the most out of a holiday on social media to generate the most sought-after form of online content: UGC, or user-generated content. UGC is five times more likely to convert customers than non-UGC: often your own customers can become the best online marketing tool, simply by uploading their own photos of your restaurant. More and more customers are engaging with restaurants in a visual way, and its reported that 69% of millennials take a photo before eating their meal. While online reviews are still crucial to restaurants, frequently diners are now finding their restaurants through Instagram, and through photos being shared by both your restaurant and other diners. By using holidays like Halloween to promote photo sharing from your customers, you can capitalize on a great night by letting your customers be your own brand ambassadors. Follow these not so scary tips on how to encourage your diners to share photos of their amazing hospitality experience.
Consider what you’re working with visually. It may sound obvious but no customer is going to take a photo if there’s nothing there to take a photo of. There are the easy questions to answer, like if the lighting is set up for good photography, but also consider the creative possibility of the space you have.
For Halloween, a restaurant can go all out with decoration for ultimate visual impact, with jack-o-lanterns and fake cobwebs galore. If you want to go simpler, see if you can add some holiday based puns to your menu: chicken ‘bat’ wings or terror-misu anyone? Seasonal, limited-edition food and drink provide unique entertainment which people don’t want to miss out on. Get your employees to join in the fun by asking them to dress up too. The core idea is to provide plenty of visual intrigues for your customers to capture.
There are plenty of popular hashtags your restaurant can use to make sure you’re getting eyes on your posts, but another smart tactic is coming up with your own unique hashtag which you can use to boost your brand identity. Use the hashtag in your marketing promotions and on your social media channels to gain traction. That way it becomes much easier to both engage with customers directly the impact of your specific social media campaigns. A great example of this is the bar Gibson Street’s month-long Halloween promo with their own catchy hashtag #nightmareongibsonstreet.
You’ve got the right decor, the right hashtags, but don’t assume customers are going to start sharing their snaps naturally. The simplest way to get your diners to share their photos is to peak their interest and ask them. Make sure your Instagram handle and Facebook ID are visible in your restaurant and use marketing materials like posters and your menu to ask your diners to upload their photos. It’s particularly lucrative when this encouragement is connected to a particular theme like Halloween. If you’re creating your own poster design, it doesn’t have to be complicated: look to websites like Canva, Etsy or Crello to find amazing templates which you can easily customize to your specific vision and needs.
A great way to encourage customers to upload pictures is by gifting customers who participate. Offer incentives such as discounts or freebies to people who tag you in their photos on Instagram. It’s Halloween, who doesn’t love free candy?
One of the best ways to generate engagement is through an Instagram contest. Its been estimated that Instagram contests earn 3.5 times more likes and 64 times more comments than normal posts, so they can really be valuable to your online presence. Halloween provides a great opportunity for photo contests but this is a tactic you can employ throughout the year. Encourage customers to share their own pictures to be in with the chance of winning a prize, like a free meal or round of drinks. Tie this into your unique hashtag to create even more buzz!
Remember, be creative, and connect your promotion to the holiday theme. Never force customers to take and upload pictures; consumers are becoming more and more savvy towards online marketing campaigns. If you try and direct your customers to take photos of a specific element or design, chances are your plans may backfire. Let your creativity do the talking: this will help ensure your diner’s pictures are organic and authentic. And lastly, make sure that no matter what, your food and service are the main events. Visuals and social media can draw those customers in, but its great hospitality that keeps them coming back.
“You need to keep tasting things if you haven't found your thing” - Gary Vaynerchuk
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