As Mark Zuckerberg announced a new change to Facebook’s algorithm earlier this year, restaurants are going to find that Facebook is an even harder beast to tame.
Promoting your restaurant with the new Facebook algorithm changes could be tough.
But don’t think that the time you have invested growing your restaurant’s following on Facebook is wasted. In this post, we’ll show you how you can still use your Facebook page to promote your restaurant for free.
What the heck is the Facebook algorithm anyway?
Before we get carried away, there may be a few of you who still aren’t sure on exactly what Facebook’s algorithm is or what it does. No sweat, the rest of us still aren’t 100% sure. And the truth is, unless you work at Facebook, you will never know exactly how it works.
Facebook’s algorithm has changed dozens of times over the years. In the early days, it used just to show the most recent content, irrespective of who posted it. Naturally, this made it easy for businesses to spam content to ensure that they appear high in people’s newsfeeds.
Later, the algorithm became centered around engagement and shares. The content that was deemed the most engaging was pushed to the top of the feed, even if it wasn’t the most recent content.
In March, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook’s algorithm would change once again to make sure that “the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.” What this meant, in plain language, was that content from businesses and brands wouldn’t get in the way of personal content anymore. The algorithm would shift to help users feel genuinely connected to their community and, therefore, more likely to stay on the site.
Of course, this will make it much harder for businesses to be seen organically in newsfeeds. Yes, it will be harder. But it won’t be impossible. It still is and will be possible to promote your restaurant even with the new Facebook algorithm. And we’re going to show you exactly how to do so.
Read our post on 7 ways to increase Facebook Engagement for Restaurants
How to Promote your Restaurant Using Facebook’s New Algorithm
1. Use Facebook Live From Your Kitchen
A few years ago, Facebook was all about pictures. But now Facebook wants to become the biggest video platform in the world. To this end, it is making videos more prominent than ever in newsfeeds. If you’ve already been posting videos on Facebook, you should have already noticed the increased reach they are receiving. That’s because they are actively rewarding companies that upload their videos to Facebook directly, rather than linking to YouTube.
If you want to make a bang with videos, make Facebook Live a key part of your strategy. Of all video formats, Facebook is giving Facebook Live the most reach. Not only will it appear high in newsfeeds (even after you’ve stopped recording) it will also notify your followers that you are live. This makes Facebook Live so much more powerful than any other form of content. By directly pinging your followers when you go live, Facebook gives you the best chance of making an impact.
But what do you post a video of? One topic we’ve seen our clients have success with is videos of your restaurant’s kitchen. Everyone wants to see behind closed doors, and so these videos can prove incredibly popular. It’s also a great way to promote your dishes and show everyone how clean and tidy your kitchen is!
2. Bring Back Website Visitors with Retargetting Ads
One of the big privacy issues that were brought up when Zuckerberg was grilled before Congress was the retargeting ad function of Facebook that lets you target Facebook ads at people who have previously visited your website. This is a fantastic way to encourage repeat business or to give potential customers the nudge they need to make an order.
One way we suggest restaurants use this is when users fail to complete an online order. When you have the Facebook pixel installed on your website, its possible to serve a specific ad to every Facebook user who began placing an order but who never paid. Providing a discount and giving them an incentive to come back and try your food is a great way to secure a lifelong customer.
3. Up Your Instagram Game
Today, Facebook is much more than just Facebook. As well as owning social messaging service Whatsapp, Facebook also owns Instagram. As such, Instagram posts often receive an extra boost in reach from Facebook as the platform seeks to encourage cross-app usage.
If your restaurant isn’t already established on Instagram, now is time without any delay. Instagram is a restaurateurs dream and is the perfect way to promote your dishes and offers to hungry followers.
Use filters to make your posts pop or go all out and promote gift cards on Instagram. Whatever you do, make sure you have your Facebook and Instagram accounts set up to post Instagram posts to your Facebook page automatically.
4. Conversations and Discussions
One of the key reasons this algorithm change is taking place is because Zuckerberg is trying to make Facebook a more social place. That means if you want to have your restaurant make an impact, you need to get a conversation started with your followers. That’s why posting conversational, discussion-driven content is going to be key.
We recommend restaurants post socially powerful and emotionally driven content. Forget vapid, clickbait posts aimed at getting likes, and instead, post content aimed at getting a genuine response. Maybe there is a cause in your community that your restaurant could get behind, or you can spark a discussion on the environment and plastic waste.
Whatever it is, make sure you don’t cross the line between discussion and promotion. Nothing will be a bigger turn off to users than a business trying to jump on a charitable cause in order to self-promote.
5. Make it Visual
Even though Facebook is trying to become more video-based, images are still incredibly important and effective. Whether it is your dishes or your restaurant’s interior, make sure you use them in all of you Facebook posts. You really shouldn’t be posting anything that doesn’t also have a video or image to go with it.
If you haven’t got any photos yet, Canva is a great tool for making eye-catching images. If you want proof of how good it is, just take a look at this blog. All of the header images have been made on Canva without needing a degree in graphic design!
6. Grow Audience With Quality Facebook Ads
All of this isn’t to say that you should forget about Facebook ads or stop investing in them. Facebook still has one of the best advertising platforms in the entire world—only Google is a match when it comes to the reach you are able to achieve. You can bet your bottom dollar that your target customers are handing out on Facebook and Facebook ads are a great way to find them.
One of the ways to ensure your page remains relevant on Facebook is to keep growing your audience. Sure, organic content will help, but paid ads are one of the most effective ways to get your restaurant in front of new potential customers. We’ve talked before about how coupons, special offers, and image-rich ads can make your restaurant stand out from the crowd and we’re not going to stop banging on about it here.The most effective Facebook strategy in 2018 is one that combines paid ads and organic content.
It takes a lot of time, effort and experience to make Facebook work for your restaurant. But when it does, it is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. If you need help getting started or rebooting your Facebook page, reach out to us for a free consultation. We’re here to help!