Ever travel to a small town on business and try to find a place for dinner? Where did you turn? For 88 percent of consumers, online reviews and comments drive their decisions.* When you’re running a restaurant it is hard to determine exactly how much weight you should give to comments and reviews that come in from social media. However, with growing generations of individuals who trust content from their peers over content from brands, it is important to recognize the ways that social media reviews drive dining decisions.**
What we know about social media is that a review – good, bad or indifferent can circulate faster now than ever before. Not only that, but many restaurants have cited a direct correlation between their ratings and reviews on social media and their sales.*** When reviews are positive, people are more likely to visit your establishment. A wall post like the one below from pizza brand Peter Piper Pizza can be a positive push for someone looking at their Facebook to visit the restaurant themselves. Additionally, a strong response from the brand shows patrons that your caring goes beyond when they are in your restaurant.
Conversely, if you receive poor reviews on your social pages, patrons will be less likely to visit after seeing what other guests had to say about the establishment. When negative reviews and comments come through on social media they tend to come in waves – as the saying goes where there is smoke, there is usually fire. For example, when you make a decision as a brand to close restaurant locations without alerting your staff, people will take to social media to discuss it. As a brand, not responding to these types of comments causes even more trouble, even a simple acknowledgement of the comment is better than silence.
As a consumer, searching for reviews on social media for a brand that is established nationwide is navigated a bit differently than reading reviews for a single unit restaurant. When you see reviews for a restaurant with 50-100 locations it is easier to dismiss negative reviews for locations that exist in other places because you are counting on the fact that a particular location may have poor service but the one near you may not. These reviews are taken with a grain of salt by a consumer who may try the location closest to them despite negative reviews elsewhere.
If your restaurant has only a handful or a single location reviews on social media could hold a larger impact for the way people perceive your restaurant.
If your restaurant has only a handful or a single location reviews on social media could hold a larger impact for the way people perceive your restaurant. Chances are consumers will be more forgiving to a national chain because not all locations can be the same right? Smaller restaurants and chains have a bigger battle to fight against negative attention on social media. By keeping up with comments and recognizing that you hear your consumer you can shed a positive light not only on changes being made due to feedback but also on the way you interact with guests. Potential clients will be more likely to give you their patronage if they see positive reviews and conversation happening around your restaurant.
When you are running a restaurant, reviews mean a great deal to the potential patrons of your business. Keep an eye on reviews and comments and be an active participant in the community that is talking about your business. The fans that you build online can translate into lifelong brand advocates that will give your restaurant patronage for years to come. Though comments on social media may seem small, they add up in the end.