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Don’t Build Your House On A Rented Lot

Don't Build Your House On a Rented Lot

Almost every week, you hear about the latest marketing trends on social media — we’re constantly seeing usage stats on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. That can be great news for you as restaurant who needs to get the word out & get more butts in seats, BUT there’s a major risk to consider.

Just as fast as social media sites become a relevant marketing tool, they can quickly change and put a big dent in your marketing & communication strategy.

We all remember when Facebook started changing the news feed algorithm that dropped organic reach for businesses on Facebook 50–90%. Today, Facebook has become less of a social media platform and more of an ad platform (while Facebook reviews are becoming a force to be reckoned with — more on that in a different post).

We have seen many restaurants focus their entire web strategy around Facebook — utilizing resources to create a social media following just to have the content you post not visible to the majority of the people who like your page.

Whoever owns the platform owns the data.

There’s no doubt that organic social media content & engagement is an important part of your marketing, but it’s not foremost, it’s too fickle for that. When you’re using social media to market your restaurant, you’re the tenant renting space (and instead of paying with your wallet, you pay with your data).

When your primary marketing medium can make a quick, seemingly overnight algorithm change and drop your visibility by close to 90%, you may want to rethink your marketing priorities.

After Facebook made the change to their algorithm, it affected every business page- and social media industry insiders reeled. John McDermott of Digiday said it represented “one expensive and frustrating lesson that’s better to own than rent.”

Owners make the rules, not tenants. 

Better to own than rent.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big advocate and promoter of social media. But I encourage every restaurant operator interested in growing sales to begin with a home base that you can control. Use social media to support your message, get reach, & connect with your customers, but build your house on your own lot. 

Few things in business and life are stable, but some things are more stable than others. When it comes to the internet, the only thing you can truly control is your own website and your own customer list.

Do a quick check — go visit your website on a mobile device and check the following things:

  1. Is it mobile friendly? The test for this is if you can view the entire site (especially the menu) without pinching and zooming.
  2. Is your menu up to date and accurate?
  3. Do you have current specials, & events posted?
  4. Do you have a way (and compelling reason) for your customers to sign up for your email/ text list?

If the answer to any of the above is no, unfortunately you may be missing the point. You may be making a common mistake of maintaining and improving property you don’t own (social media) while letting the property you own fall into disrepair. If you find that you’re in that place, don’t dispair- almost half of independent restaurants today are in the same place. The good news is you can absolutely take steps to remedy that today and stand out from the competition.

Once you have your website up to date, I recommend you focus on building your own customer database — it may not be as trendy as social media, but email is truly one of the strongest assets you have to turn one-time customers into loyal followers.

Why? Because it’s yours.

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