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Managing restaurant customer relationships on social media

Join PosterMyWall’s special guest, Steve Roop, digital and content director at Littlefield Agency, as he gives restaurateurs tips and tricks to connect with customers through social media and keep them coming back for more.

PosterMyWall live class: Managing restaurant customer relationships on social media with Steve Roop

This week, our live class featured social media expert Steve Roop, digital and content director at Littlefield Agency. Steve shared his expertise in managing online relationships with restaurant customers—from fostering positive engagement to dealing with trolls.

If you missed the class, you can watch the replay above. Or, if you prefer the highlights only version, read on for a summary of Steve’s presentation.

6 Tips for Managing your restaurant’s customer relationships on social media

Steve’s 6 top tips for nurturing a positive and engaged social media audience are:

1) Think of social media as a big party

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Every social media page is its own party. And regardless of whether you’re on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, or elsewhere—if you are the page owner—you are the host of that party. 

Just like being the host of a party in the real world, being the host of a social media page comes with some inherent responsibility. In addition to joining the party yourself, it’s your job to make sure your guests are comfortable and enjoying themselves. Sometimes that means answering questions or providing them with some other benefit. Keep your eyes open and listen to make sure you’re giving everyone whatever it is they came to your page for.

2) Treat your followers as if they were standing in front of you

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One of the dangers of social media is that it’s too easy to take refuge in anonymity. We don’t actually know the people we’re engaging with, so we don’t always treat them the way we do our real friends. It’s almost as though we don’t believe they’re real people. 

Steve says this is a big mistake. “These are real people with real emotions, reactions, and lives. Treat them with the same respect and consideration you would someone standing right in front of you,” Steve said. The benefit of treating everyone well is that when you do, your audience is happier. And happy audiences are more likely to do what you want them to do—from liking and sharing posts to coming in to eat more often. 

3) Your tone will set the stage for your audience

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Steve says that your brand’s tone and behavior on your social media pages acts as a benchmark for your visitors. If you’re gruff and curt—you’ll get that back. If you go off topic or provide content that isn’t relevant, your followers will return the favor. But if you’re warm and responsive, you’ll build the rapport you’re looking for.

Steve suggests that you create a brand style and voice guide. That way your brand can maintain the optimal voice and ideal content regardless of who on the team is working social media on any given day. 

4) Reward good behavior

It’s vital to reward good behavior on your social media sites—this is how you build allies who will support you when things go bad (i.e. trolls, bad reviews, service limited due to pandemic).

“Take the time to say thank you for the kind words,” Steve said. People like being acknowledged—especially if you take the time to respond. 

Also, fast responses go a long way. If it takes you days to respond, it sends the message that you don’t really care. And if you’re not fast enough, the negative commenter might vent their frustration by posting the same negative comment elsewhere—often on a site or forum that you don’t have any control over. 

5) Respond to the negative comments too

If someone says something negative, don’t ignore that. Instead say, “I’m sorry that was your experience, how can we make that up to you?”

Steve said that another thing you can do about negative comments is to hide them on Facebook. “The commenter can still see it–but no one else can. Everybody wins!” Steve said.

6) Dealing with trolls & other online monsters

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Everyone encounters trolls from time to time. It’s unavoidable.

Steve says the best solution is to flood out the negativity with positivity. “If you’ve been positive and responsive, others in your audience may come and defend you. Best case is that your followers take care of it and you may not have to say anything,” Steve said.

Whatever you do, don’t give trolls too much attention. Always ignore personal attacks and never take their comments personally. 

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If a troll gets too rowdy, try to move the conversation offline. “Reply politely and then follow up privately. Sometimes you can even turn a negative situation into a positive one by doing that,” Steve said. When the pressure is high, it can also help if another team member who isn’t as emotionally invested steps in to deal with the troll. That prevents you from getting defensive. 

Steve said that if you manage your social media properly, it becomes something of a help desk. “It tells your customers that a real person hears them,” he said. 

So just remember to be helpful and human in all of your social media interactions. If you do, you just may find you’ve nurtured a very positive, engaged and loyal audience.

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