Comment: Social Strategy

Sarakshi Rai looks at how some restaurants are turning virtual followers into real numbers

Sarakshi Rai.
Sarakshi Rai.

When people walk into a restaurant these days the first thing they ask to see isn’t the menu; more often than not, it’s the restaurant’s WiFi login details.

It’s very rare to go out for a meal and not find someone taking pictures of their food. With an excess of 1.86 billion active Facebook users, 284 million active users on Twitter and more than 700 million Instagram users, restaurants and chefs can no longer afford to ignore their social media strategy either.

Chef and school food campaigner Jamie Oliver has seen his fame and exposure continue to increase over the last few years, almost in direct correlation with his 6.1 million Instagram followers.

He recently picked up the Best Instagram Feed for Food Lovers award at the Observer Food Monthly Awards in London, and has even schooled Oprah on her vegetables via his Instagram account. 

In New York’s Manhattan, Yelp data has shown that more users are now looking through Instagram as part of their searches for eateries. Social media is transforming the way any business — including restaurants — interact with consumers. Gone are the days when establishments could get away without having various social media accounts. Now travellers want to search for the restaurant, look at its website, Zomato and social media pages. Some will pick a restaurant based entirely on the photographs on its public profiles and how popular its chef is on social media.

One of the best examples of a restaurant brand using social media to engage potential customers is Taco Bell. The Mexican-themed QSR was named this year’s Top Performing Restaurant Brand on Social Media according to a social analytics company called NetBase, which released its annual Restaurant Brands Report. 

But just having a social media account is not enough. It is also important to develop appropriate and effective customer-centric social media strategies. 

Wendy’s, which came in fifth place, is the perfect example of how to have a distinct social media voice to cut through the noise made by all the other fast food social media accounts out there. From Wendy’s rap battle with Wingstop on Twitter in October to going after McDonald’s when they had a Szechuan sauce shortage, the fast food chain regularly hands out public ‘burns’ to its competitors. 

And, as Lapita Dubai’s marketing communications manager Yasmin Collins told me last month, “one has to remember that engagement (shares, referrals, word of mouth, mentions, and so on) received via social media is ‘earned’ — the ROI of social media can be measured by reach, audience engagement, traffic, leads generated, sign ups and revenue generated. To meet ROI goals, the social media strategy needs to be constantly monitored and adjusted.”

So do yourselves a favour and get social!

Social media addict and obsessed with digital media, Sarakshi Rai is the online editor of You can e-mail her at or find her on Instagram and Twitter @Sarakshi.

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