Social media is so dominant in today’s world of restaurant industry advertising that it could possibly become restaurant advertising. And social media advertising’s impact works hand in hand with restaurant customer loyalty.

A new study from Toast Restaurant POS shows that restaurants will increase spending by 20 percent this year on social media advertising.

The Restaurant Success in 2017 Industry Report found that Facebook is still the social channel of choice for restaurants (92 percent), followed by Instagram (69 percent and Twitter (59 percent). The social media channel that carries the most growth potential for the industry is YouTube, with 28 percent of participants saying they will start using this platform to generate visual content in 2017. 

According to the report, the most popular advertising methods for restaurants this year are as follows:

Social Media – 75 percent
Events/Sponsorship – 68 percent
Newspapers/Magazines – 41 percent
Search Engine – 34 percent
Direct Mail – 31 percent
Television – 10 percent

Loyalty360 caught up with A.J. Beltis, content marketing specialist at Toast, to find out more about the ramifications of the report.

Why is social media dominating restaurant industry advertising and why are restaurants willing to increase their respective budgets in this area?
Beltis: Social media is dominating restaurant advertising because restaurants can send more targeted and cost-effective messages to new and returning customers. Social media and search engine ad managers allow you to make quick, instant changes. You don’t have to reprint materials, you don’t have to go through an agency. You can do this all by yourself and measure success easily. This makes it easier on the budget and offers more lucrative returns for restaurants compared to dated ad methods. 

How can social media positively impact restaurant advertising?
Beltis: Social media not only has the potential to impact restaurant advertising, social media could soon become restaurant advertising. Our report found that both TV ads and direct mail ads have dropped in usage this year, while social media ads have become the restaurant advertising method of choice. It’s becoming the new norm and will soon displace these older advertising outlets if the trend continues.

What are restaurants doing well in this area and where do the challenges lie?
Beltis: Restaurants have gotten the first step right and that is using social media for restaurant advertising. Moving forward, there are plenty of opportunities for restaurants to improve their strategies.
For example, they can target different social media users, incorporate different visuals and video content, and even try new tactics that haven’t been attempted yet. Since social media ads are still a relatively new concept in that they didn’t exist 10 years ago in the capacity that they do now, no one can know for sure what the “perfect” social media ad will be 10 years from now.

How is customer loyalty impacted by this?
Beltis: When used correctly, social media ads can work hand in hand with restaurant customer loyalty. Constructing a campaign to market to those who already like your page by sponsoring a post can be just the push a guest needs to come back. 

What is your biggest takeaway from the “Restaurant Success in 2017 Industry Report” and what was your biggest surprise?
Beltis: The biggest surprise for our team was how few restaurants use Snapchat. Less than half of restaurants will be on Snapchat by the end of 2017, yet there are millions of millennials using Snapchat that would love to follow these businesses if they create compelling visual content. We think, as Snapchat becomes more commonplace and proves that it isn’t just a fad, more restaurants will start using the platform to reach these consumers where they are. 

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