Social proof is the idea human beings are conditioned to copy the actions of other people with whom they relate. It’s noticeable from a young age. A child that can barely walk or talk will naturally get drawn to other children playing. Teenagers get pressured into doing things by their friends. Adult’s choices are influenced by the people in their social circles.
Social proof is the driving force behind why we do the things we do. Make your restaurant stand out online by using social proof as the foundation of your digital marketing strategy.
1. Proactively collect ratings and reviews
Nearly 90% of people research restaurants online before dining out. Ratings and reviews are pivotal in this process. Modern consumers are reliant on restaurant reviews because it allows them to make accurate judgments based on other people’s feedback. It’s favorable for a business to have more positive reviews than that its competitors.
Start proactively collecting reviews for your restaurant. Studies show up to 70% of people will leave a review when asked. You can also get a Google My Business page to streamline the process. In this way, reviews will also help with SEO.
The more positive reviews your restaurant has, the more it will stand out online. According to an Upserve study, 33% of people wouldn’t eat at a restaurant that has less than 4-stars. Also, take the time to respond to all your reviews, whether positive or negative. That shows that you care about what people have to say. Negative reviews are as important because they show what areas need improvement. That said, learn how to respond to negative restaurant reviews and take appropriate steps to keep negative reviews from becoming a PR nightmare.
2. Leverage “FOMO marketing” tactics
FOMO, or “fear of missing out”, is the anxiety we feel when we believe we’re missing out on something. FOMO in marketing is deliberately inducing that anxiety in consumers. The goal of this psychological marketing trigger is to entice guests to make impulsive decisions to avoid “missing out” on exclusive deals they may not be able to access later.
There are numerous FOMO marketing tactics you can use to build social proof and get people to talk about your restaurant online. Social media contests are an excellent example. Hold monthly contests on Instagram or Twitter. Ask followers have to use your hashtag or share a photo of their favorite meal to enter to win something. It could be a dessert, cocktail, or even the meal that they shared. The more attractive your prizes, the more people are likely to take part.
If only 20 people with around 1,000 followers each share photos of your food, their posts could be seen by up to 20,000 people within their networks. Now, imagine if you got hundreds of people to participate. The value of publicity and social proof you’ll get will be worth much more than the cost of the free meals you dished out.
Another great way to use FOMO to build social proof is to get influencers to talk about you on social media. Influencer marketing is currently one of the fastest-growing forms of marketing. It not only helps businesses reach their target audiences, but also to build credibility and social proof through the endorsements of well-known personalities.
The underlying principle of FOMO marketing is to combine an appealing offer with a strict deadline. For example, if you do an Instagram contest, only run it for a single weekend in a month. If you offer discounted prices on certain menu items, set a strict expiry date for the promotion. The incentive shouldn’t be accessible all the time. That puts people on their toes and gets them to take action immediately.
Also, make sure to use trigger keywords in your messages. This includes phrases like “This offer expires soon!” and “This is your last chance!” to create a sense of urgency. Using psychology to boost restaurant marketing doesn’t have to be hard!
3. Be omnipresent online
Be in all the places where your target customers are likely to conduct their restaurant research. For example, if they search on Google, your website should show up among the top results. And if they go to social media, they should also come across your pages. Even if they go to review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor, you should have a presence. The more times people encounter your name while researching, the more familiar they’ll be. Consumers favor brands they recognize.
There are countless tools you can use to enhance your online presence. For instance, platforms like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace make it easy to create a professional website without having to spend money on expensive developers. And if you’re too busy to do it yourself, find experts on platforms like FreeWebDesign to build it for you completely free. If you don’t have the time to run your social media, hire a digital marketing agency to help. There’s just no reason you shouldn’t have a completely dominant online presence.
4. Leverage influencer marketing
According to this Forbes article, influencer marketing grows faster than all other forms of digital ads. The average consumer trusts recommendations from popular personalities more than a business’ self-promotional messages. If you currently spend money on display ads, consider influencer marketing as an alternative.
Find influencers on platforms like Mavrck and GRIN, or by doing a manual search on social media to identify people who would be a great fit for your brand. Most influencers require some compensation to promote you to their followers. However, some may be happy to do it in exchange for freebies.
Only work with local influencers whose following mostly consists of people from the same location as your restaurant. That way, their endorsement directly impacts on your restaurant visits. Influencer marketing is most effective when there is relevance between the influencer and the products or services they promote. Micro influencers are great to target, and there are a ton in the food space.
5. Get featured in well-known publications
When a popular blog, magazine, or media outlet mentions you, your credibility and social proof instantly soar. There are several ways to get featured on well-known publications. The easiest is through sponsored articles and reviews. That said, it can get quite expensive.
If your marketing budget is limited, a great alternative would be to become a contributor on niche blogs and magazines. Although contributors are usually not allowed to blatantly promote their businesses, they can mention them in their author bios. Contributing articles is a commonly used tactic to get backlinks to help increase a website’s SEO rankings.
Another way to find coverage opportunities to sign up on HARO. Then, respond to interview queries. HARO is an online platform where journalists obtain feedback from people in different industries. Whenever your interviews or quotes get published, the journalists give a shout out to your business (as well as a backlink to your website). Many noteworthy publications like Mashable and TIME Magazine use HARO to find quotes to use in their content.
The average consumers’ decisions are largely influenced by other people. If you can make social proof the core of your marketing approach then you’re sure going to get their attention. Success in this digital age is determined by a business’ ability to stand out online.
Whenever people search for places to eat, they should keep stumbling upon your name. Be omnipresent on social media and search engines. Your ratings and reviews should set you apart from other restaurants.
If you want to take things further, unleash an army of influencers to actively talk about you. Or get popular blogs and magazines to feature you. Most people go online to search for restaurants. Win them over through your unparalleled display of social proof.
Author bio: Emmanuel Soroba is a digital marketing strategist and the founder of Growth Strategies 101, a marketing consultancy and award-winning blog for growing businesses.