Social Media

How to Use Snapchat to Promote Your Restaurant

Epicure's Snapchat Marketing Cheatsheet for Restaurants

Most London restaurants still haven’t figured out Facebook marketing… let alone Twitter. So the thought of Snapchat becoming the next ‘must-do’ restaurant marketing platform is probably fairly daunting.

snapchat for restaurant marketing

If you’re below the age of 25 you’re probably on Snapchat – using its filters to give your selfies that extra bit of impetus. If you’re 30 or above, unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably have heard something about Snapchat (probably because of its recent IPO) and are in the process of incorporating daily use of it into your work, life – and possibly child – balance. Either way, Snapchat has come across your radar and you know that it is becoming a viable competitor to the Facebook-Instagram axis of power. But how can you ultilise this unique social media platform to market your restaurant?

Don’t worry Epicures, we have you covered!

Snapchat is the place to show who you really are

On all social networks you have the chance to show off wonderful, professional pictures and content you think will work best and will attract new customers. With Snapchat things are different since what your audience expects to see is what lies behind the scenes – content that would normally not be posted elsewhere. Be spontaneous, share unique moments and don’t try to impress. Is the chef dancing in the kitchen? It’s the perfect opportunity to snap and share the story with your followers.

Geofilters - Make sure your restaurant’s location is visible on Snapchat

Snapchat offers lots of features that will give your business exposure to over 150 million users daily. By adding a geofilter on Snapchat – an overlay to each snap mentioning the location where it was taken – you give your followers the opportunity to mention your business on their image. Assuming one of your customers posts an image of a waffle while having brunch at your restaurant, if the geofilter is available, the name and location of your business will automatically appear on the screen and all their followers will find out about your business – for free. What’s even more exciting about the geofilter is that you can have it designed anyway you like. It is customisable and you can add any kind of sketches or emojis. All you need to do to create the geofilter is use Snapchat’s map tool and pin the location of your restaurant! 

How to promote your restaurant using Snapchat

Use Snapchat to share exclusive news

Planning an exclusive discount, an event or you just have an announcement to make? Use Snapchat to reach out to your audience. Lure people to your Snapchat profile by informing them through your other social networks that it’s the go-to platform for your most exciting updates. Say, for instance, you are launching your new Spring menu – you can post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that on a specific date and time you will be announcing details of the dishes and a one-off special offer. Then, when the time comes, inundate Snapchat with pics of your dishes and/or your chefs cooking them along with – perhaps – a promotion like first table booked mentioning ‘snapchat’ gets a free welcome drink. While you’re at it, why not package your content in a branded Spring geofilter?

Use Snapchat Live Stories to reach out to your customers

Snapchat’s Live Stories lets users who are in the same event or location post their snaps on the same community narrative. Is your restaurant taking part in a foodie festival? Live stories is a great way to reach out to your customers, let them know which stall you are at and what great treats you have for them to taste!  Is a big London event happening near your restaurant or bar – like the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race? Use Live Stories to invite Snapchatters in for a drink!

So are you ready to tell the personal story of your business with exclusive content on the social media platform that might just knock Facebook of its pedestal? Then jump onto Snapchat, tell Live Stories, and – crucially – get a super cool geofilter… and watch the selfies in your restaurant’s branding - along with some new customers - come pouring in!

Gimmick or Genius? The Rise of the Food Fad

Epicures Liv and Francesca Explore London's Food Trends

With the advent of social media platforms like Instagram, food has been given a whole new lease of life. Food bloggers have become prolific and thousands of people are 'gramming their meals every day. Because this platform is essentially entirely visual, food photos are edited and staged to within an inch of their lives in order to make them as aesthetically-pleasing as possible. This preoccupation with pretty edibles has given rise to a multitude of “food fads”. Enter visual delights like galaxy donuts, cronuts, and - possibly most exciting - the freakshake. But are these fads mere gimmicks or is there something more to them? This weekend, Client Manager Fran and I took to the streets of London to find out.

London Food Trends

Heading to Brick Lane, we began the day with a breakfast of rainbow bagels. Originally the brainchild of New Yorker Scot Rossillo, this fad takes bread to a whole new colourful level. A normal bagel in flavour and texture, the only real difference is its vibrant rainbow nature. A cheap novelty? We didn't think so - in fact, although the taste remained the same, the sheer child-like joy of eating something so colourful made the whole experience wonderful.

Rainbow Bagel

Rainbow Bagels

Due to the massive popularity of the original, the rainbow bagel has made its way across the pond to Brick Lane's Beigel shop, where you can buy one for a mere 50p. This multi-coloured gimmick has spread over to several other, otherwise-normal food areas, from fairy bread to rainbow coffee. Photos of kaleidoscopic grilled cheeses are currently running amok across Instagram, as people attempt to make their everyday meals more visually stimulating.

Rainbow Bagel

Matcha

The next stop on our foodie adventure was Soft Serve Society to jump on the matcha train - another food-stuff that has taken the internet by storm. Matcha is a Chinese green tea powder, traditionally used in Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies. These days it is also used for dyeing and flavouring foods. Given the plentiful health benefits of matcha- such as being high in antioxidants and helping to burn calories- many health enthusiasts have appropriated it for healthy treat foods.

Admittedly, we may not have had it in its most wholesome form... as an ice cream swirled together with vanilla, covered in strawberry crunch, and topped with the world's largest marshmallow, but it did give us a chance to see what the hype was about. It was certainly very visually impressive, with a cloud of mallow perched atop a beautifully-swirled green and white ice cream, but I must say we were somewhat underwhelmed with the taste of it. Perhaps matcha is the new marmite.

Matcha

Freakshakes

Two stops into our day of gluttony we thought it best to walk to our next, and undoubtedly most ambitious, stop. Cue Maxwell's Bar and Grill in Covent Garden for the aforementioned freakshake. This food marvel was originally a product of Australians Anna and Gina Petridis and has been rapidly spreading across the continent - and now to several areas of Britain - with Maxwell's being the first to jump on the bandwagon. Described by many as “Instagram-worthy”, the pair wanted to create a dessert that customers felt they just had to take a photo of before eating it. Mission accomplished. The one we had was salted caramel and was essentially a mountain of cream, caramel, and sugar, topped with a doughnut and yet more marshmallows - an apparent theme of the day.

Freakshake at Maxwell's Bar and Grill

The day finished with the onset of food comas, and a growing understanding of the appeal of food fads. The transmission, and thus popularity, of these fantastic culinary spectacles has been made possible by the rise of media platforms such as Instagram. Through it people can create identities for themselves and even, in the case of food bloggers and “’grammers”, forge a career. However, as these become more popular professions it is no longer enough to create really good-tasting, well-balanced dishes. People need to come up with ways to beat the crowds and catch the attention of their target audience. Thus flavour appears to be giving way to aesthetic as the most important factor when it comes to food marketing.

Softserve Society

Instagramable?

Does this then mean that there is no longer a need to focus on the taste of a dish? Is it such that, as long as it is striking to look at, all other elements of the experience are irrelevant? Well, no. For those who truly love food it is unlikely that they'll be fooled into liking something merely because it's pretty. Nonetheless there is evidence that our enjoyment of food is influenced by more than just taste. A multitude of studies have been carried out over the years, proving that altering the appearance of foods can completely change how people experience the flavour of them.

One such test was performed by taking white wine and adding a flavourless red food colouring to it. Subjects reported experiencing flavours associated with red wines, such as merlots and cabernets, despite the fact that the flavour of the original wine had been left unaltered. Eating is a whole body experience, combining all the senses, and so, while these aforementioned food fads are designed primarily to be visual spectacles this does not mean that taste has to go completely out of the window. 

Epicure Loves White and Red Wine

Food fads are, at the most basic level, a tool for driving popularity, in the form of gaining Instagram traffic. The more visually-striking a foodstuff is, the more likes and follows one can get. Through recreating, or even starting, these popular fads, restaurants can appeal to, and market themselves to, a wider demographic. However, on a subtler level, the extremity of the visual can enhance the whole eating experience, making foods not only look, but also taste, more new and exciting.

Get the Picture - An Epicure's Guide to Instagram

Instagram Like an Epicure

Whether you love it, hate it, are thoroughly confused by it, or have never even heard of it…trust us, you need to be on Instagram.

Restaurant Marketing on Instagram

With new social media platforms appearing every month, there can be a strong temptation to ignore the new arrivals and focus on the networks you already understand. Unfortunately, if Instagram is not currently in your roster, we are here to tell you it should be. Fortunately, we are also here to ease the transition. As Instagram newbies ourselves, Epicure has been swotting up on Instagram best practice – as well as figuring out what works for us – and this week we will be sharing our new-found wisdom.

The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Moreover, we remember 80% of what we see but only 20% of what we read. These two facts combined show very clearly why Instagram is a marketing tool brands cannot afford to ignore. That and the fact that Instagram has half a billion users every month, of course.

The secret to its popularity lies in its simplicity – all you need is a good eye and a set of opposable thumbs – and a good eye is not to be underestimated. Steve Jobs understood one key idea when it came to making computers something people wanted in their homes: people like things to look good. Instagram is where people come to work out – and judge – the visual identity of a business and decide whether they like the look of your business.

Restaurant Marketing on Instagram

Of course, it is a little more complicated than whether or not you post beautiful pictures. Anyone who has just got to grips with Instagram no doubt threw up their hands in despair at the recent introduction of Instagram Stories. A direct threat to rival app Snapchat, the new feature (which allows users to post videos and photos which disappear after 24 hours) marks a new step in digital marketing, one which is less stylised, if not less visual. What Snapchat did, which Instagram had previously been lacking, was allow people a peek behind the scenes, into the lives of the people they followed, in a more raw and authentic way. Whereas in Instagram you create a visual archive, Snapchat merely offers a brief glimpse - think snap-shots rather than photoshoots. Now with Instagram introducing Stories… you can do both!

The key to doing both bits well is to act like a real person. Young people have become better than ever at ignoring traditional ads…so stop trying to sell to them, and simply engage with them! Use Stories to allow your audience a glimpse of the funny, silly, unedited side of your business and, if you don’t have one… perhaps you’re doing it wrong!

Top Instagram Tips

1. Do your research 

Before you start posting, get to know the app a little. Find accounts similar to yours and see what they are doing. Take a look at some of your target audience and get a feel for what they like.

 2. Hashtags

Here is where all that research you did will come in handy! Find out which hashtags are popular for your industry (a good app which can help you is TagsForLikes) and use them. There are pros and cons to using very popular hashtags – on the one hand it gets you in front of thousands of people, on the other your content risks drowning amongst all the other posts out there using that tag. Best thing to do is use a combination of both – use some less popular, more specific tags, and some more popular and generic ones. And never use tags which have nothing to do with your post. Big no-no. Also consider coming up with a hashtag for your brand and making the most of trending hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday.

3. Collaborate

In the words of Vanilla Ice – Stop, Collaborate and Listen. Actually, that’s pretty sound advice for social media as a whole. Find out who people are listening to –  brand influencers like bloggers and popular accounts – and collaborate with them! Let them take over your account for a day or initiate some sort of shared project. Equally important – collaborate with your audience! Comment on their pictures to start a conversation and re-share great posts, turning your customers into brand ambassadors.

4. Think visually 

Instagram is all about the way things look, so have an aesthetic idea in mind before you start. High quality pictures are a MUST. Also, it is worthwhile having a distinctive visual style – picking a specific filter can help with this, as can including other aspects of your branding into images, through logos or colour schemes.

5. Have Fun 

The most important thing of all! Social media may not come naturally to you, but it is designed to be something people enjoy – if you are doing it out of duty, then you’re not really getting into the true spirit of it!

 

A few of our favourite accounts

1.       A Pair of Dirty Pigs @apairofdirtypigs – Great pictures of food – not super-stylised – a mix of restaurant pictures and food they cook at home. Restaurant food pics come with short review of dish plus price point and mark out of 10. Great concept, easy to get on board with.

Epicure Digital Marketing's Favourite Instagram Accounts

2.       Sauce Communications @saucecomms – A lesson in how to do Instagram marketing…for a marketing agency! Account is all about letting their clients’ work shine. Beautiful pictures, posted regularly.

Epicure Digital Marketing's Favourite Instagram Accounts

3.       Eat About @eatabout – Excellent use of their logo in the top corner of every picture. Great mix of pictures – finished dishes, dishes in progress, chefs, chefs’ homes, and raw ingredients. Every aspect of the business represented visually.

Epicure Digital Marketing's Favourite Instagram Accounts

4.       Londoner on the Go @londoneronthego – Quite simply… just beautiful pictures of food! As well as sweeping pictures of London. High quality but all with the same personal style, as if taken on a phone – feels intimate and authentic.

Epicure Digital Marketing's Favourite Instagram Accounts

And while we've got your attention - why not head over to our Instagram account and say hi!

Constructing Identity Through Social Media Engagement

Nourish Your Reader's Identity - Get a New Customer

Cultural studies’ criticism of social media – and all media forms – is based on the assumption that what we read, watch and listen to has a profound influence on our understanding of the world and ourselves as individuals. Of particular importance for marketers – in the restaurant sector or otherwise – is the fact that Britain is a capitalist society in which spending money and consuming are among the more significant ways we unconsciously seek to develop our own identities.

Consequently, the role of the restaurant marketer is clear – to provide one’s audience with the content through which individuals can identify, affirm and evolve their identities and, eventually, book a table.

Coffee Lovers adore Kipferl

As straightforward as the marketer’s brief has become, using social media to create meaningful, identity-influencing engagement is far less simple.

A mainstream view maintained by cultural theorists is that meaning is created in the text, or in our case, the social media content. On face value this is an extremely reasonable assumption, given that any decent content will have a message and, provided it is written in a language understood by the reader, this message would likely be understood.

This textualist approach says that we are socialised through the media and are therefore passive – but conscious – victims to its message.

Consuming Identity Changing Media

To put this in perspective, if a formidable food critic like Jay Rayner were to tweet a positive review for a new restaurant, a texualist would argue that any conscious engagement with this content would result in the reader viewing the restaurant in question as an attractive place to dine. This reader may even book a table and begin a word-of-mouth campaign that continues Rayner’s praise.

While I do not have the readership figures, it is clear that someone like Rayner wields a lot of power over his audience and that when he – or another restaurant critics – speaks (or tweets), a portion of readers will listen and oblige in one form or another. If this were not at least partially true, traditional restaurant PR would have very little to offer.

And yet, it is clear that many of us can read Rayner’s tweets and have no problem reading them critically – either disagreeing (even if we have no business doing so!) or simply by resisting a message’s logical conclusion of visiting the restaurant for a meal. Therefore, it is not wholly plausible that we are passive, non-critical victims to any media message with which we engage.

Evolving Identities

The other side of cultural theory suggests that content is not where meaning is created – instead, it is in the recipient of that content – the reader.

This ethnographic approach argues that the words that combine to make one of Rayner’s tweets would offer their reader little – if any – identity-influencing meaning. Instead, it is the reader who superimposes a meaning onto the text, or social media content.

Semiotics and Marketing

Based on this theory, the reader produces meaning with the text by being the kind of person who pursues interest in restaurant reviews on Twitter. The reader may even identify with Rayner’s no-nonsense, quirky approach to restaurant criticism, or even aspire to become like the man himself.

Perhaps controversially, the ethnographic approach would argue that the reader does not have to ever do anything but intend to engage with Rayner’s criticism for impactful meaning to be produced. That’s right, the reason the tweets cannot produce meaning is because either the reader never actually reads Rayner’s social media content and/or because any reading is done in such a disinterested fashion that the content’s meaning cannot be properly absorbed.

The conclusion of this general theory is that merely by identifying as the kind of person who likes and listens to Jay Rayner allows one to project an idealised identity as a foodie and savant of the London restaurant scene.

How to construct an "Outdoors-y" identity. Show the world you getting back to Nature with your iPhone.

How to construct an "Outdoors-y" identity. Show the world you getting back to Nature with your iPhone.

This is a compelling theory that definitely helps to explain how we use social media content to consolidate our own identities, and yet, it has a serious flaw – this approach completely fails to account for our subconscious minds or deep-seated ideological configurations that the media – including a Rayner tweet – can tap into to impact the identity of consumers.

To understand properly how to create quality social media marketing content that helps one’s audience establish and develop individual identities, we require a prism that accepts that the text does transmit meaning to its reader, though perhaps not always consciously and not always the intended message. Equally, we need to account for what is it about content that allows us to make a bold statement about our identity without engaging with it critically or even at all.

Idealised identities on social media

The theory that we will use to make sense of this – which informs much of the work we do at Epicure Digital Marketing – is called semiotics. Through semiotics, we will see how social media marketing makes use of a range of cultural objects that act as words in a greater language. Not only do we speak this language fluently, we can make a great deal of sense from it without even thinking.

Epicure Digital Marketing’s analysis of semiotics, identity and social media marketing… Coming soon!