Turn Views into Visits: Making Booking Social in the UK
As a busy restaurant operator, you might not have much time for scrolling — but putting social media to work for you is paramount in today’s world of liking, linking and going viral. Revamping your social media strategy can help you increase bookings, boost brand awareness and stay relevant in today’s world of constant connection.
While social media itself can be considered an art form, there’s plenty of objective data that supports the cut-and-dry importance of using it as part of a good marketing strategy. Our UK Industry Report shows that 92% of Gen Z is willing to travel to see social media famous venues.
When you consider how dine-in business is making a comeback, it’s clear that using your social media pages in conjunction with your booking strategy means you’ll see a real-life return on the investment in your virtual presence.
According to our study, social media represents an £800 million opportunity. However, there’s a huge gap between what’s possible and what’s happening, as social media tools are still underutilised by the hospitality industry. This can be good news for operators willing to double down on social media.
You already know that one of the biggest challenges of running a restaurant is getting people through the doors — and young people in particular are using social channels to choose where to dine. Take a look at these findings from our study:
A whopping 9 out of 10 restaurants already have an Instagram presence.
36% of Gen Z Brits have visited a restaurant just so they could post about it on social media.
People in the 16 to 24 age demographic spend 68% more per week on restaurants than the average consumer.
Social media can also be used as a tool to help with another age-old restaurant issue: increasing guest spend. This is indicated by the fact that 38% of Gen Z Brits are willing to spend more at a restaurant that’s gone viral.
Social Media is for Direct Booking, Too
Many operators have already dipped their toes into the proverbial waters of social media for restaurants, but providing a way for guests to book reservations directly through social channels is a plunge most operators haven’t yet taken. In fact, 59% of restaurants don’t take reservations through social media, despite 58% of Gen Z patrons stating that they’d be more likely to visit a restaurant they found on social media if they were able to book directly.
Closing the gap between what guests want and what your business offers is easier than you might imagine, since all you need to do is incorporate direct booking options into your social media marketing plan.
“By using social media to convert passive browsers into active bookers, operators will reap the benefits of increased takings and deeper connections with customers.”
Danilo Mangano, Managing Director, International at SevenRooms
How to Leverage Social Media Platforms to Drive Restaurant Bookings [With Examples]
You don’t need to have millions of followers to increase bookings. All it takes is a growth-driven mindset, successful examples and a few tips and tricks.
Even as newer social channels have gained popularity, Instagram remains a crucial marketing tool as it boasts over 1 billion active monthly users. Since Instagram allows businesses to include direct links to products and services, focusing on making your restaurant Instgrammable can do a lot more than just rake in the likes — it can also bring in new customers.
Visibility & Reach:
To increase bookings, the first thing you need to do is get people invested in your Instagram page by boosting your social media presence. Using an Instagram template, posting consistently and utilizing modern features like Instagram Reels are all good ways to bolster your following. Take a look at these examples of how restaurant brands are using the Gram to its fullest potential:
Using reels for growth: London favorite Duck & Waffle amassed over 200k views on this foodie reel showing its famous view.
Consistent grid posts: A traditional Instagram post can still do the trick. L’Enclume’s aesthetically pleasing grid — which includes behind-the-scenes glimpses, gorgeous food photography and effective copywriting — has earned it over 100k followers.
Stories to highlight events & reshare guest content: Instagram stories offer another way to engage users tired of scrolling through photos and they’re an ideal way to share content in real time. Re-posting content to your social media accounts also shows that you appreciate your guests.
How to Convert Instagram Followers into Customers
Once people are invested in your page, you need to make it easy for them to transition their virtual experience into a real-life visit. While directing viewers to a “link in bio” used to be the only avenue through which you get people to take action, it’s now easier than ever to include links in Instagram Stories, Reels and even ads.
Despite being significantly newer than Instagram, TikTok also has over one billion monthly users — and those users often use it to decide where to eat. In fact, two in five TikTokers have visited a restaurant after seeing it on the platform.
With its catchy background music, creative editing styles and viral hooks like “POV” or “Day in the Life,” a social media post on TikTok should be conceptualized differently than on other platforms, especially since some of the most successful content on TikTok is user-generated.
Visibility & Reach:
TikTok food videos cover a wide range of restaurants, with everything from affordable street eats to legendary high-end dining establishments being represented on the platform. Here’s how UK operators are using TikTok trends for restaurants to capture business:
Focusing on user-generated content: Partnering with influencers who have a significant TikTok following is an essential way to spread a consistent message. Blacklock, a culinary powerhouse known for “The best roast in London”, garnered the majority of its social clout media from influencers by using #blacklock — which has about 1.3M views.
Through individual accounts: Creating your own content that keeps up with current trends can help your restaurant stay relevant. For example, Clerkenwell hotspot Luca posts behind-the-scenes clips, recipes and finished product videos with the consistent theme of “British ingredients, Italian cooking.”
How to Convert TikToker Views into Visits
There are several ways you can convert views into visits with TikTok. Pointing viewers to a direct booking link in your bio or in your captions makes it easy for people to reserve a spot in your dining room. Since so much of TikTok revolves around engaging with a community of commenters, encouraging people to “come and try” in the comments section is wise.
Teasing new locations by including links to join a waitlist or to sign up for limited-time products can also create buzz and help get people through your doors. Even creative uses such as adding a link in your bio for career recruitment (Luca, for example, executes this strategy beautifully) can help build trust and confidence.
Of course, partnering with influencers and encouraging guests to share, post, use hashtags and comment on your content will make the algorithm your friend.
FYI: By adding custom tracking links to your reservation CTA on social, you can track which channels and campaigns drive the most revenue. Learn more about the benefits of integrating social media with your reservation and online ordering channels with SevenRooms.
It might be tempting to write off using Facebook for your restaurant as old news, but the reality is that the platform still boasts about 2.74 active users — so it’s imperative to not let your Facebook page slip through the cracks. One of the best things about Facebook is that it features a plethora of useful tools you can use to make booking social media feel flawless. Check out how:
Visibility & Reach
Though Facebook doesn’t rely on viral sounds or trendy dances, there are still plenty of ways to reach potential customers.
Videos: Facebook is a great place to post videos that highlight special events. Content on Facebook can be repurposed from other platforms or developed specifically, like this video from the Hard Rock Cafe on its 50th anniversary.
Photo posts: A great example of a restaurant harnessing the power of photo posts can be seen in how Duck & Waffle showcases its signature dishes to engage viewers.
Engagement: Making Facebook feel personal can help drive bookings. Engaging with guest content, reposting and tagging are all good places to start.
Tips for Converting Likes into Love
Using Facebook’s robust set of conversion tools and add buttons to “Book Now,” “Reserve” or “Start Order” to get the ball rolling. You can also link to your own online ordering & delivery platform (which will prevent you from paying those dreaded third-party fees).
Adding links to captions for content highlighting events makes it easy for viewers to turn the idea of attending into a reality. It also allows you to run effective targeted Facebook ads that work to spread the word about ticketed events, new locations and new menu items. Building out your Facebook bio and taking advantage of the “Menu” tab makes all the information your future guests need readily available.
Pro Tip: While driving organic traffic should be at the top of your social media priority list, you can also use paid ads to direct users to the “Reserve” button on your profile.
UK restaurants can benefit tremendously from implementing a robust social media strategy. However, in today’s convenience-driven world, posting interesting content is just the beginning. Integrating direct booking links prevents potential customers from navigating away from your page, which means more reservations.
First, you should focus on cultivating a strong social media presence that drives traffic to your page. Then, adding direct booking links to your social media platforms is an effective way to increase reservations.
What Social Media Platform Should a Restaurant Use?
Many successful UK restaurants leverage the power of multiple social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
How Often Should a Restaurant Post on Social Media?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, generally speaking, it’s extremely important to post consistently. It’s also crucial to focus on striking a balance between posting frequently and posting quality content. Aiming for two to three posts per week is often a great place to start.