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Marketing experts regularly promote the fact (and rightly so) that in order to survive, your restaurant or other business must have a website, Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram feed (and don’t forget claiming your business on Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google). But how often do you hear about monitoring all of those pages for feedback from your customers?
The truth is, if you’re currently oblivious to what’s being said about you and your business online, you’re setting yourself up for possible disaster. These days, if not handled in a timely manner, a few keystrokes from an upset customer can have the power to damage your reputation, perhaps long-term. On the flip side, social media also can be a powerful platform for marketing your business, as you turn customers into online word-of-mouth advocates. But it takes work, and following a few basic guidelines will help.

  1. Run a Search
Pull up Google, Bing, and Yahoo to run a search on your personal name and your restaurant’s name. Reviews are often the first thing to show up in an online search. What types of comments, news, and images are popping up? Yes, check the images, too. If you don’t want your customers to see those things that should have stayed in Vegas, don’t post them on your social media pages—even your personal ones. Run this search daily or weekly. There is software that will run the search for you, saving you time and possible embarrassment later. When you come across positive and negative comments, address them as soon as possible in a professional and courteous manner.
  1. Help Customers Find You
Just like you strive for consistency in the quality of your service or the food you serve, you need to be consistent in how you present your business online in order for customers to find you. Across all of your online touchpoints (website, social media, local listing sites, etc.), your name, phone number, menus, URLs, operating hours, and more should all be the same. And you should keep these up to date. Consistency and accuracy ensure that when someone searches for you online, they can find you—and the same accurate information. Plus, claiming your business listing with search engines and online review sites such as TripAdvisor can avoid someone else claiming it.
  1.  Update Your Website—and Make it Mobile Friendly
Once a customer finds your restaurant online, it’s up to you to keep them there. More than half of consumers view websites with their smartphones now, and many restaurants are not mobile-optimized. No one wants to squint to see a menu or scroll 10 times to find your phone number. When was the last time your website got an update to make it mobile friendly? Does it showcase all of your current specials and menus? If nothing else, once New Year’s has passed, please take down that web banner that states that you’re open on Christmas Eve!
  1. Monitor Analytics and Comments
Having a social media reputation management platform in place will make it easier to monitor reviews and sentiment. These tools consolidate all your reviews from various social media sites in one place. They also give you tools to make responding a breeze. Some tools also show you which of your posts are popular, shared, liked, and commented on. Need to triage a customer complaint posted online? A social media reputation management platform can alert you to negative reviews, and help you respond rapidly.
  1. Auto Post on Social Media
Current and potential customers will check your social pages for specials and discounts before visiting. When they see old, stale content, it puts a damper on their excitement toward their first (or next) visit. It can be a drag to sign into each platform separately. Here’s a time-saver. If you aren’t already using a social media management platform, you may want to start. Doing so will allow you to plan out your content thoughtfully, rather than scrambling to come up with something creative last-minute, and push out posts over all of your social channels regularly and consistently. Many of these tools give you the power to post to multiple social sites at once, whether you schedule them for later delivery or post immediately.
  1. Turn Followers into Advocates
At the end of the day, nothing beats great customer service at every point of contact, whether inside your restaurant or on the Web. Treating your customers with respect and providing them with the information they need will make it easier to turn them into loyal, repeat customers, and advocates that influence others for (and toward) your brand.

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