Ten tips for a strong social media strategy in the hospitality industry

How can restaurateurs get started on social networks? What exactly are the advantages of digital platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok? Social media expert Markus Eckartz offers ten tips for a successful social media strategy in the hospitality industry.

Markus Eckartz - social media expert
Markus Eckartz, 52. As managing director of the agency The Rocket Scientist he supports customers in the hospitality industry, including What’s Beef, Hausmanns, Campari, Moving Mountains Food and many more.
Social Media for restaurateurs - tips for a good rating

What´s it all about?

  • Why it’s worthwhile for restaurateurs to have their own social media channels
  • Ten tips for a successful social media strategy in the hospitality industry
  • About social media expert Markus Eckartz

👉 About ... Markus Eckartz

Markus Eckartz, founder and strategic planer of the agency The Rocket Scientist, has been working in the communication industry for more than 30 years. Born and raised in Düsseldorf, he began his career in the print industry as a print template manufacturer. After two decades in the advertising industry, including 17 years with an agency in Düsseldorf, he founded his own company in 2013. Originally focused on consultancy services, The Rocket Scientist now develops and implements modern communication strategies for a wide range of customers. As managing director of the agency, the 52-year-old and his team also support many customers in the hospitality industry, including What’s Beef, Hausmanns, Campari, Moving Mountains Food and many more. Eckartz is a regular speaker at industry conferences like Rolling Pin and the Cologne Bar Symposium, and he runs digital communication workshops.

‘If you’re not on social media, you don’t exist’ – the statement is somewhat exaggerated but highlights how important social networks are for companies today. For social media expert and agency founder Markus Eckartz, one thing is certain: Every hospitality business benefits from having its own social media channels. With a successful social media concept, restaurateurs create a visual portal for their guests to learn about the business and what it offers in advance. Eckartz knows how to do this successfully and shares the ten most important tips for a social media strategy in the hospitality industry.

1. The benefits of social media

According to Eckartz, social networks offer three key benefits. First, there is organic reach. ‘Compared with traditional channels like magazines, social media offers the opportunity to reach a much larger number of potential customers.’ Second, customer retention. ‘Guests who subscribe to social media channels are more likely to return and become regular customers.’ And finally, the presentation of services and products. ‘Using social media, restaurateurs can present their menu to a much wider audience than with traditional methods like printed menus.’

2. Facebook, Instagram or TikTok: finding the right platform

One thing is clear for Markus Eckartz: Facebook and Instagram are both essential channels for a successful social media strategy in the hospitality industry. ‘Of course, each business must decide which channel to focus on,’ he explains. The choice strongly depends on your target group and the company’s strategy. ‘For a younger target group Instagram – or TikTok if they are under 25 – is the better choice, while an older and probably more affluent target group is more likely to be found on Facebook.’ Simply posting pictures of food in the feed is outdated now, he explains. ‘It’s more appealing when guests take videos or photos of the food or the location and share them in their stories. This increases visibility, which in turn attracts new guests. What’s more, restaurateurs can use that content and share it in their own story.’

3. Social media content strategies

Eckartz has a straightforward answer to how restaurateurs can best get started with social media: ‘Just give it a try. And if you feel you’re stuck or don’t understand the platforms, you can use online training courses or templates or get professional help.’ Content creation is a specialist skill after all. The social media expert advises against blindly following every trend and suggests carefully selecting what fits your concept. It doesn’t always have to be videos: ‘A high-quality photo with a clear message can be just as effective on Instagram and Facebook. High image quality and a clear call to action, such as asking users to follow the account or comment on an image, are particularly important.’

4. From likes to location: using target group data

Social media channels allow restaurateurs to share content as well as gather valuable data. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram provide important information about the target group, such as age, gender, geographical origin, interests and user behaviour. ‘This comprehensive data turns otherwise anonymous restaurant visitors into clear profiles, allowing restaurateurs to tailor their services even more precisely.’

5. Authenticity counts: authenticity in the social media strategy

According to Eckartz, content should be authentic, as that’s the only way for a restaurateur’s social media presence to be credible. ‘The content shared on social media should be genuine and reflect the guests’ perspective.’ If a guest posts videos or photos of food and drinks, they should match the restaurateur’s content. The agency boss recommends authenticity when it comes to portraying employees: ‘Show real faces if possible – the people guests may actually meet in the restaurant.’

6. Respond quickly, increase reach

Restaurateurs should always respond to feedback or queries on their social media channels – and as quickly as possible – since inquiries often come in at short notice. ‘Restaurateurs should treat their DMs like a phone to which they always respond to answer guests’ questions,’ advises Eckartz. He recommend a similar approach when it comes to comments: ‘The more actively and regularly you interact on the channel, the greater your reach.’ He goes on to explain that it’s important to respond to both positive and negative feedback. Regarding negative feedback, the expert says: ‘It’s a good idea to ask objective questions first and acknowledge mistakes when something has genuinely gone wrong. I advise restaurateurs to move the conversation away from social media and out of the public eye as quickly as possible, offering to continue it by email.’

7. Special campaigns as part of the social media strategy

‘Whether it’s for free drinks or special offers for lunch, social media campaigns give followers a good reason to follow the account,’ explains Eckartz. It also allows restaurateurs to test new drinks and dishes without adding them to the permanent menu. Another positive effect, according to the expert: ‘If a dish is especially popular, it will naturally attract more visitors to the restaurant.’

8. Relevance before routine: strategic posting rate

It’s a good idea to post new content at least once or twice a week, ideally just before the restaurant’s peak times. ‘It’s important to publish content at times when it’s most relevant to the restaurant,’ says the expert. Since not every restaurant has news every day, restaurateurs should create their own occasions for posts. ‘Special offers developed especially for social media such as a new summer drink, a special of the month or the latest food trends, are particularly effective. Specials help restaurateurs attract the interest of their target group.’

9. Using the social media strategy to generate ratings

To receive feedback via their social media channels, restaurateurs should encourage their followers to leave ratings, just as they would in the restaurant. ‘When a guest posts a story about their visit on Instagram, restaurateurs can send them a link for a Google review. Instagram has many interactive tools, such as question stickers, which provide opportunities to get feedback from guests.’ By doing so, he adds, the restaurateur is encouraging direct interaction with guests, which in turn strengthens customer retention.

10. AI support for restaurateurs

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly important in the hospitality industry, not only as a source of information but also in supporting the social media activities of restaurateurs. ‘AI tools like ChatGPT help to generate topic ideas for posts and varied responses to customer feedback to avoid monotonous replies. AI also helps write and translate texts, which is useful for social media posts and creating multilingual menus.’
Editor's note: The images in this article were created by an image generator using artificial intelligence and edited by MPULSE Image Creation.

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