Since more and more people join social media every single day, it’s hardly shocking that the tools, apps and software to help you master those platforms are appearing just as rapidly. For independent operators strapped for time, the right social media tools can dramatically optimize and improve a restaurant’s entire digital marketing strategy, from growing your customer base, to managing reviews, to measuring analytics.
Still, there’s nothing more frustrating than being confused by the platforms that are supposed to make things, well, less confusing for you. There are a lot of social media tools out there, so we've sorted through the noise to bring you a six-pack of products, platforms, and solutions that will change your restaurant's digital day-to-day for the better.
Aside from the standard engagement tracking and post scheduling—along with a promise to grow your audience authentically—Buffer comes with a few unique features that make it stand out from the rest. One of which is its built-in photo creating and editing software (known as Pablo) making it simpler to adjust sizes around each platform's specifications. And the other, perhaps even better, feature is Buffer allows you to seamlessly post and schedule videos, which tend to have the highest engagement rates than on social media.
Between its advanced publishing tools, accurate engagement tracker, in-depth analytics and the ability to identify influencers that fit your brand, the easier question might be: What doesn’t Sprout do? On top of which, it’s extremely user-friendly. Unlike the often convoluted Facebook and Instagram “Insights”, Sprout provides detailed, easy-to-follow reports. Plus, unlike essentially every other scheduler, you can create a single post and have it published to multiple platforms as well as multiple times, which vastly decreased the amount of copy/pasting on the user’s end. Sprout will also closely monitor your audience in order to alert you to the best times to post on each platform. In other words, this is the cream of the crop and is used by many major restaurant players. But quality in this case isn't free: Sprout comes at a price tag starting at $99 per user, per month.
Let’s be honest, Photoshop is for the pros. And thanks to Canva, you can be a Photoshop pro one without actually being one. From resizing images to the correct specs for each platform to easily loverlaying text, it can essentially do anything you will ever need to do to a photo for social media, and then some. The best part? It even has a large variety of social media templates customized for various platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) that include interchangeable images, GIFs and fonts.
Bonus: you can even create menus and newsletter in this baby. And it’s totally free, as long as you stay within specific parameters. Otherwise, there’s Canva Pro ($9.99/month) or Canva Enterprise ($30/month) where the options—and storage!—are literally endless.
Hootsuite is one of the original contenders for social media scheduling, campaign creation, and analytics. As a one-stop-shop for pretty much all your social media needs, it should come to no surprise that it has held its popularity over the years. Useful no matter what the industry, restaurant owners will appreciate being able to see how social media marketing is increasing sales at their establishments. And since ROI can sometimes be one of the harder aspects to prove in restaurant marketing, social media managers may appreciate it even more.
No one wants to deal with reviews (well, at least negative ones), but being alerted the second they’re posted certainly has its perks. Enter RepCheckup: a review management software / app that sends a push notification any time you receive a review online. Think of it as “Google Alerts” for reviews, because it picks them up no matter where they are on the web (Yelp, Google, Trip Advisor, you name it!) For that alone, it has our vote as one of the more convenient tools out there. But there’s more: RepCheckup syncs all online review and social accounts making it easier than ever to quickly respond to each one. Best part? It’s totally free (with an option to upgrade).
Social Report is great for the restaurant owner who wants to create a “hub” for all digital marketing, not just social media. The platform offers a “smart inbox” that allows all mentions to be grouped into one inbox in order to easily digest each one. Additionally, it can manage review platforms like Google My Business and Yelp and even manage your Ecommerce store on Shopify, which can be especially venegical for those restaurants who sell merchandise, products and gift cards.