How Restaurants Used Social Media during COVID-19
The beginning to a decade that no one expected. 2020 rolled in with a worldwide pandemic that hit every industry differently. In the hospitality sector we saw businesses divided into two groups, those who made the move to adapt to these new strange times and those who got left behind. Today we’re diving into the social media tactics that many restaurants used to thrive during this era of takeaways-only and what you can learn from these examples. As the pandemic isn’t over just yet, this may convince you now more than ever to get a crack on managing your socials better.
1. Information Outlet
When announcements broke and lockdowns were in place, what source did people use to find information? The Internet. With people encouraged to stay home, walking traffic dwindled to almost nothing; An incredibly problematic issue for those restaurants that were still in fact open. This is when we saw businesses with an online platform, rise. Google Business trading hours changed, updated and social media posts rolled out informing customers on their new business plans.
For those who didn’t utilise these platforms, they began to struggle. People were not going risk driving to a restaurant just to find out if they were open or that their trading hours had changed. Their phone lines were still open you say - Ask 20 people in a crowd and you’ll find out how many in today's generation that hate call exchanges. They may have had several loyal customers ring up but they significantly lost a portion of those who found an easier alternative.
As an added bonus, businesses that took to update their restaurant's journey were welcomed with overwhelming locals who wanted to join the newly created movement, #supportperthlocal.
2. Online Ordering
The most common marketing element that restaurants utilised during this pandemic was the obvious, online ordering. Every restaurant only ever has one landline or contact number, so what happened when 20 people started dialling in, wanting to order dinner for 6pm? The lines got jammed.
On average, it takes around 5 to 8 minutes to process a phone order and by then at least 3 other people have already begun to look for other dinner options. Online Ordering is :
- User-friendly and easy to upsell [add-on drinks, desserts, extras]
- Able to get that one extra employee working on another task rather than manning the phone line
More orders, more revenue, no disgruntled customers tired of waiting = a successful business model during COVID-19.
3. Takeaway Promotions
In a world where people were already bombarded with a billion advertisements a day, it was important now more than ever to create a space for your restaurant to be heard. For those who had pushed off social media for so many years - they began to face the questions head on - If people weren’t going to drive past your restaurant on their way home from work or walk past from after-work drinks, how would they remember you?
We saw restaurants blowing off the imaginary dust of their Instagram accounts and logging back to promote their takeaways.
10% off your bill or complimentary entree' with your order? People missed going out to eat dinner and so when they found a little discount to their favourite go-to restaurant, they were jumping at the offer.
4. Food Packs
A new concept that many restaurants began to adapt as a new NEED emerged from the community. Restaurants began to create their own version of ‘home-ready meals’.
You had ready-to-go meals that,
- Required no cooking, just heating up
- Or in serves that were family size
You also had 'make our recipe at home meals' that were,
- The used the restaurants recipe
- Included the ingredients prepped
A fairly new concept and revenue stream that restaurants began to add to their business model. But – what good is a new idea when you can shout it from the rooftops of your restaurant? This food packs model was only effective for those who had an active social media platform. With COVID sending people to work from home and to stay at home, people were on Facebook and Instagram more than ever. Social media gave the opportunity for restaurants to sell in bulk and create new menu dishes each week. A win-win for these unpredictable times.
Pft, delivery? We’re too busy worrying about what’s happening in the restaurant. A statement that many restaurants began to think twice about in 2020. As people began to settle in to their homes, even getting takeaway on some nights was a chore. As for the other % that wanted to stay safe and keep away from all contact, delivery began to grow. With business struggling as is the 30% delivery fees from Uberats and Doordash weren't to do the restaurant any favours. It gave way to what many thought was a ‘fast-food’ model to one that was welcomed by even the ‘fanciest’ restaurants.