COVID-19 Restaurant Social Media the Results are in.
HotOperator has interviewed 30 restaurant operators over the past 60 days. We wanted to see how they are doing with COVID-19 Social Media and their results. What we have found is the most aggressive restaurant operators are averaging between 40% and 95% of their regular sales year-over-year. About 2 in 10 are posting and aggressively advertising. They are seeing their sales go from about 18% without social media efforts to about 50% of their regular sales.
What are the variables?
Before making any conclusions about COVID-19 Restaurant Social Media results, there are other variations to consider. These include food quality and consistency. It also includes how well the foods they serve travel. As an example, we have a steakhouse that has not recovered well during the COVID-19 crisis. But because not many people will buy a ribeye steak and take it home, they are struggling. Steak is difficult to reheat, and if it is cooked to temperature, it will continue to cook while it travels. So what was once a medium rare steak will be medium well by the time it is at its final destination.
Outsourcing Social Media Works Best
The restaurant operators we work most closely with over the past several years are doing the best. But it is difficult to get a handle on increases simply because they were already using social media for their businesses. We have two clients that are reporting very good business, one being up slightly over last year (although it has to be said they are a carryout only location in New York), and the other claims sales being off about $500.00 in business year-over-year. Keep in mind, those are numbers given by the client and are not confirmed.
Manage The Phones
What we do know: the restaurant operators who are doing best with COVID-19 Restaurant Social Media results are having problems with customers calling and not getting through. Because they are not able to get the phone, this skews their efforts. With social media advertising driving sales, not getting the phones makes their income look lower than it might otherwise. We know this because we see complaints. Therefore, we can only speculate that there are other customers calling but simply going elsewhere for carryout food when no one picks up the phone.
No clinical studies have been done on social media. So everything with regard to COVID-19 Restaurant Social Media results are anecdotal. We simply do not have enough data to say definitively that if you spend X you will receive Y.
HotOperator is often asked if COVID-19 Restaurant Social Media will bring results. It does, and as an example McDonalds spends nearly $1B in advertising per year. They would not do that if it didn’t work. By the way, that’s $1 in every $6 spent on advertising in the food business.
How Advertising Works (And Doesn’t Work)
Restaurant operators expect advertising to produce returns, just like any other investment. The reason that many restaurant operators don’t think advertising works is because they think advertisements should do something immediately. They think that if they put money into the system, something should fall out the same day. Restaurant operators do not often have the patience to stick with marketing over time.
Restaurant owners who approach any social media advertising this way are wrong about how advertising works. Advertising works over time. It’s not a gumball machine that delivers gum every time you put money in the slot.
Social Media Is Not A Gumball Machine
Successful advertising rarely succeeds through argument or calls to action. Instead, good advertising creates positive memories and feelings that influence our behavior over time to encourage us to buy something at a later date. No one likes to think that they are easily influenced. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that we respond negatively to naked attempts at persuasion.
Instead, the best advertisements are ingenious at leaving impressions. This leads to restaurants staying top-of-mind. The best thing you can do for your restaurant right now is to outsource your social media. Doing that may be the difference between your business surviving the COVID-19 crisis, and finding a different line of work when this is all over with.
M+K Laux dba HotOperator is a farm to table marketing consulting firm. Mark and Kelly are a marketing team and managing partners of HotOperator. They have been working in the food business since 1989. Either can be contacted through the HotOperator website, or by calling 800-316-3198. or contact Laux here.