8 Ways Restaurants Can Use Facebook Pages (and Not Fail Like Burger King)

Burger King’s marketers have been brilliant, and that includes what they’ve done on Facebook — who can forget the Whopper Sacrifice application, where you could de-friend people in exchange for a free burger. But this cleverness has not translated into any fans on Facebook. Despite being one of the top burger chains in the world, the company does not even appear to have a Facebook page. Meanwhile, its main rival, McDonald‘s, has the largest Facebook restaurant page, with 1.24 million fans.

Facebook fans matter, of course, because you can convert them to actual customers. More on that in a moment.

For anyone trying to market a restaurant on Facebook, here’s a look at how to be more like McDonald’s — and some other brands with successful pages — and less like Burger King. And, to be clear, these practices below can be used by local eateries just as easily as by national chains. Here they are, in order from simplest to most complex.

1. Have a Facebook page

This practice seems painfully obvious, but as Burger King shows us, it’s not. Creating a Facebook page is simple: Just sign up here and fill out the basic information about your business. You can designate yourself as a local restaurant under the “Local” option or as a food or beverage brand under the “Brand, Product or Organization” option.

2. Use updates to convert fans to your marketing goals

This one also seems obvious, and yet many page owners do not take the time to do this every day or even every week. Even posting simple status updates about your business — or really, anything you think is relevant — will be seen by users in their homepage news feeds. Dairy Queen, for example, simply shares links from its other sites, yet hundreds if not thousands of people comment and like each item. These are just simple links, featuring things like its “Blizzard of the Month.” Sharing anything will get people to click through and read your page, and see whatever else your page has to offer. When users comment, their friends will see links to these comments on Facebook walls. And, Facebook’s analytics tool for pages, Insights, determine the demographics of your fan population and use this information to tailor your stories in appropriate and fitting ways.

3. Interact with your fans as much as possible

When a customer approaches you in real life to tell you what they think of your business, you’ll listen. So why not here? You might hear some useful criticism, or some timely compliments. Also, when you respond, you’re more likely to get them to respond — this additional activity will further increase the chance of your fans’ friends seeing. If you’re willing to go even further in this direction, there’s an option in the administrative panel to let the default filter on your wall include posts from fans — for an example of that, see Papa John‘s page.

4. Use multimedia to show off your food and dining experience

Photos and videos say a lot about food, if not the overall style of your establishment. Make sure to let your fans see what you offer, by posting your latest or most prized dishes. Krispy Kreme, for example, posts updates about new types of donuts — like this “pumpkin spice,” which seems to have gone over better with some fans than with others (valuable feedback).

5. Integrate your page with other marketing efforts

Are you also running some sort of contest on another site? Make sure your Facebook fans know about it. For example, Baskin-Robbins‘ page includes one tab that is just an image of its “Birthday Club” birthday ice cream giveaway. It seems simple, but click on the image and you can go sign up for the Birthday Club on the company’s home site. You can edit your tabs within the admin section of your page. For those on Twitter, pages can both receive tweets from Twitter and export status updates into Twitter accounts.

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