One of the biggest problems restaurants are facing today – even restaurants that have successfully pivoted their business to delivery and takeout – is the loss of in-person customer engagement. Whether your dining room is open or not, social distancing protocols, contactless takeout/delivery, and other COVID-19 restrictions make relationship building a little more difficult.

That’s why, in the midst of the new normal, social media is so crucial for restaurants. For many customers, specifically those who are choosing to avoid on-premise dining for the duration of the pandemic, it’s one of the only ways you have to engage. In a time where people are actively going out of their way to avoid human contact, your digital presence has never been more important.

Here’s three social media tactics to give your restaurant a marketing boost during the pandemic.

User-generated content. I’m going to start by talking about user-generated content (or UGC for short, as we call it). With so many customers dining at home, there’s an opportunity to embrace a new kind of UGC. Even with our world adapting to the pandemic, so many people are still spending most of their time home – whether they’re working and learning remotely or just isolating themselves from others.

It’s not that people are looking for ways to occupy their time. People are turning to social media because it enables human connections in ways they’re just not getting at home. That’s why encouraging UGC can be particularly useful for restaurants right now.

When it comes to getting more UGC, there’s plenty of strategies you can try. You could hold a contest asking customers to show off their at-home dining setups, featuring takeout from your restaurant (with a hashtag of course). You can tap into trends and holidays, such as those featured on the National Day Calendar. The sky’s the limit when it comes to UGC. Get creative.

(Note: Always make sure you ask your customers for permission before re-posting their content. Click here for a legal rundown, courtesy of Social Media Examiner.)

Consider TikTok. Over the past year, I’ve been talking more and more about TikTok. Not just because I’m seeing it everywhere, but because it’s suddenly become highly relevant from a marketing standpoint. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I feel like I’ve watched its popularity explode.

And as it turns out? That’s exactly what happened. Entrepreneur reports that TikTok was the most downloaded app in the world in July 2020. The viral video sharing platform isn’t something any marketer should overlook, especially if you get a lot of business from Gen Z.

Now, how is TikTok going to help your restaurant? It’s a good question. Because so much of TikTok revolves around viral videos that rack up thousands of views, you might be intimidated. This article from Restaurant Business highlights how large brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and Chipotle have leveraged the platform to great success.

But where does that leave restaurants that aren’t quite so high on the corporate scale? The article goes on to discuss what smaller, independent restaurants can do too, highlighting how a 23-year-old kitchen manager at a New Jersey pizzeria racked up 200,000 followers. The videos weren’t complicated by any means. They were just him cooking pizza at the restaurant.

Give live video a try. Like TikTok, live video gives your restaurant the ability to show off your restaurant in a more visual way.

Where live video shines is the real-time engagement it enables. Unlike TikTok, live video is long form. You’re engaging your audience over the course of an extended period of time, instead of producing a piece of content in advance. If you’ve got the right personality on camera (which you should), you can really get a lot out of live video. You need someone that can react, amuse, and hold an audience’s interest.

From cooking classes to Q&As, there’s plenty of choices for restaurants to explore. Find what works for your restaurant. Show off your food, and engage your audience.

Succeed With CoGoBuzz

CoGoBuzz is here to help your restaurant succeed as it moves forward from the pandemic. Our state-of-the-art digital marketing service can help your restaurant build and maintain a strong base of loyal customers, which will ultimately help your restaurant survive.

Our service directly promotes your services to customer mobile devices. Leveraging advanced WiFi, SMS, and Email solutions, CoGoBuzz promotes your restaurant both in-store and out. It comes packed with a fully digital, text-based loyalty program, allowing you to let your customers know what services you’re offering – all with just a simple text. Click here to learn more about CoGoBuzz.

Whether you’re one of our current customers, or you’re interested in joining the CoGoBuzz family, we’re committed to helping businesses affected by COVID-19.

For current customers, we’re providing free text message service, allowing you to send a link to order online, purchase gift cards, and/or notify customers of new hours.

For new customers, we’re offering our hardware at cost, donating our services, time, and covering shipping costs. Prepare for the future with CoGoWiFi Free to collect your customers’ phone numbers. There are no contracts or monthly fees, and we offer unlimited customer data storage.

Message from our CEO

“From pricing to packaging, our mission has always been to provide customers with unbeatable value. That’s why, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we are seeking to provide the most aggressive offers to help suffering restaurants survive. We believe that half of small restaurants will fail in the year after operations return to normal. The restaurants that survive and thrive will be the ones that win loyalty and focus on bringing customers back over the following year.”

– Steve Gould, CEO

Click here for more details on how we’re handling the crisis.

How has your restaurant managed social media during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments.