By Brandon Hull
Recently we gave you one approach to getting started with content marketing. It involves writing down every question related to food — dining out in particular — that a person may have in your local market, writing out responses to those questions, and posting the questions and answers as part of an ongoing blog series.
It’s a straightforward approach to leveraging content to make your restaurant concept stand out and get found online.
Well, how about we piggyback that practical, blocking-and-tackling approach with some far more adventurous ideas you could incorporate into your restaurants content marketing, to keep building your brand voice and social following?
Implementing some of these content marketing ideas may come easier for some than others, duly acknowledged. But don’t feel a need to be too precise in following them — let ‘em serve as idea generators for you to steal from and implement based on your available resources.
1. Start a blog on your restaurant’s website.
Today. Now. Any number of creative ideas from this list or from your own brain can be put into motion so much easier with a blog on your restaurant’s website. Heck, you could even be funny with this and keep or add the default, initial post headline, “Hello world!” as your entry into blogging.
Or follow our previously shared five types of posts for restaurant blogs.
Check out this screenshot from the Shake Shack Tumblr (click to enlarge):
2. Talk like a human. About your brand. On video.
Like this. Have some fun:
3. Film a 60-second video that teaches people…
Specifically, that teaches people how to make a “poor man’s” version of one of your specialities at home and post it to YouTube. I know, crazy, is what you’re initially thinking — until you realize the power in having fun over-emphasizing in the video that this is a “poor man’s” version of the special and how the real, authentic version is just a 5-minute drive away.
Discover the power in leveraging the third-largest search engine in the world — YouTube –with casual and fun videos, not your typical commercials.
In fact, you can add a step here and get a bigger bang: Turn those steps into a Pinterest post. Pinners love them some recipes.
4. Give your biggest, baddest menu item its own Twitter account.
On that Twitter account, let that menu item speaks for itself throughout the day. Give it a personality, a voice — you might even let it be fun and act like it’s a rogue account that’s trying to stay off the radar.
5. Post a “This Week in…” video to Instagram every Monday.
You’ve only got 15 seconds here, so highlight just one featured menu item. Add a splash of background music and you’ve got some brand personality. Use each Instagram post’s comments section to add the necessary details and disclaimers to the week’s offers.
6. Go guerrilla and publish a low-key podcast (audio or video).
Interview an employee at one of your stores on, “How We Make Your Food…” Emphasize how you buy your food if it’s local.
If you go audio-only, just make sure to get some ambient sound of your food cooking, you know, get that sizzle of the grill going. If you swing for the fences and go video, get some crazy close-ups of that food cooking so our mouths water. It’s a great way to engage local employees, too. Give the podcast, “The Sporkful” a listen for inspiration and direction on this.
7. Jump. On. Memes.
Enjoy the art of newsjacking for restaurants. Funny (but not morally vacant) celebrity news grabbing the headlines this today?
Newsjacking is the art of publishing content that capitalizes on the latest memes or news — you build YOUR story off of those current events.
Here’s how newsjacking works, as a chart:
Here’s a thought: temporarily nickname a menu item after a celebrity who’s found their way into the headlines and tweet it heavily. Steer clear of tragedy, of course, but is no shortage of news any given week that you can piggyback.
8. Equip 20 of your restaurants with their own iPod Touch.
Here’s why you’re doing this, specifically: They’re to be used solely for capturing authentic photos and videos. Have those locations send their photos and videos to you to fuel your social media — augmenting your professionally-snapped photos. “Food so good, we don’t need Photoshop.”
9. Share recipes and pairings that work great with your food.
Seriously. People grab food to go all the time — is there some side item that would go great with your food, that wouldn’t detract from sales? Sriracha? Your menu item followed up with Twinkies as a dessert? Write periodic blog posts about it. “We hear from customers who order takeout that they’re pairing our ____________ with ____________ and LOVING IT.”
If you’re not getting that kind of feedback from customers, jumpstart the campaign by asking your employees for what they pair they’re favorite menu items with when they grab dinner on the way out the door.
10. On a dedicated Tumblr, feature local Average Joes (and Janes)
Position us as though we’re celebrities endorsing your menu item. If your brand can get away with it, keep it simple with a humorous, Onion-style photo + caption:
“87-year-old Pearl Hairston says our carnitas ‘make her toes curl.’
A little fun, 15-minutes of fame for local fans of your brand.
11. Tell a legendary version of your restaurant’s backstory.
What is the number one feature of your restaurant that people notice or talk about, BESIDES the food? Write a whole backstory about how that feature came to be at your restaurant on your blog. Heck, the story doesn’t even need to be true — create your own legend (but at least state it’s a legend).
If your brand has been around 20 or more years, uh, this is a no-brainer and I can’t believe you haven’t already quit reading this to start writing that backstory.
12. Go all Buzzfeed and Upworthy with your blog posts.
Cause some laughs by poking fun at the trend towards over-hyped headlines with variations like this on your blog or Twitter:
“This Dad Ate Our Porterhouse and You Won't Believe What Happened Next!”
“3 Women in a Row Ordered Horchata. What Our Server did for the 4th is So Touching OMG!”
And add a photo that goes along with the over-the-top headline. Again, if you’ve got a casual or even an offbeat brand, the stories don’t even need to be real. They’re all aimed at building that brand voice and having some fun.
BONUS! 13. Post your menu & graphics on Pinterest AND Slideshare.
Do this for all of your LTOs and other specials. Slideshare is a major secret weapon, with all kinds of SEO goodness built-into it. Pinterest you know about. Killer image + simple description and hashtags as applicable = good digital marketing.
Listen, are some of these ideas off the beaten path? Of course they are. Do they make sense for your speakeasy? Or your nightclub? Or your full-service, fine dining establishment? Probably not.
Let the ideas serve as fuel for you to get started with your own content marketing strategy. There are so many fun things restaurant brands can do with content marketing. Whether you dip your toes into content marketing as a resource or a broadcaster, the opportunities are nearly endless.
Shed the boring. Stand out.
About the author:
Brandon is the original founder of NextRestaurants.com. He has helped thousands of restaurants implement innovative marketing strategies, campaigns, and tactics by incorporating new technology, in order to attract loyal guests.