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How Restaurants Can Make The Most Out Of The New Facebook Timeline

With the new timeline format that Facebook has applied to its brand pages, restaurant marketers now have the chance to influence their thousands of fans whose likes they have spent the past years obtaining. This, according to a new study done by social-media consulting and software firm Expion.

“Restaurant marketers can now adopt Facebook’s timeline format, adjusting to the changes that have been made on the “sponsored stories” element to increase customer engagement,” said Mike Heffring, Expion’s chief strategy officer. “Brands, by now, should be done with customer acquisition by way of building up their Facebook likes. Their focus this time should be customer retention and loyalty.”

“The next best thing that will happen next year on the social network will be how brands intend to increase their pages’ conversations and come up with interesting, attention-getting stories,” he said. “Facebook should be seen as the brand’s portfolio, with all the things restaurateurs need to put out and those mixture of things that would keep their restaurant compelling.”

The way for restaurants to get more comments, likes, click-throughs and shares is not just through posting relevant matters about the food that their excellent chefs in quality chef pants create; they should also be able to start conversations that would induce guests to talk back—encouraging them to discuss their preferences and induce them to share images.

Facebook’s brand pages have changed to the timeline format last February 29, and restaurants should be able to get the most of it, reaching more Facebook users without needing to increase its like base. There are a number of ways to do it:

Tell the story

A lot of restaurants, like Starbucks, tell their stories by going back to the time they were founded, now finding it easier to incorporate videos and photos as compared to Facebook’s other formats.

Promote deals and offers

Brand ads, or sponsored stories, are now more prominently displayed in a fan’s news feed whenever a friend likes it or comments on its posts. There are also new features that allow brands to direct targeted ads on Facebook mobile apps, sending deals and offers directly to their Facebook fans who opted to receive such promos, and pushes ads to the fans’ news feed or on their log-out pages.

Pin stories

Some brands “pin” stories, finding it most helpful, as it allows their post to remain at the top of the page despite the succeeding status updates, poll questions or videos that they put up.

Focus on category relevance

Heffring advises restaurants to focus on category relevance—keep their customers interested in what they’re selling. But posting a hundred posts and photos of the creations done by their skilled chefs, in their cozy chef pants, doesn’t always work; restaurants should also be able to make use of the holidays (like Mother’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day) for variety, as well as uploading user-generated photos and branded entertainment videos.

Ask customer preference

Others, like The Cheesecake Factory, asks for customer preference, which is an important and effective tactic for customer engagement. “________is the best cheesecake for me.” Chick-fil-A asks, “If I’d be allowed to eat only one Chick-fil-A meal for the remaining days of my life, I’d choose ___________.” And Starbucks asked, “My favorite person to have coffee with is _________.”