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Top Ways Paid Social Can Attract New Patrons to Your Restaurant

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Many businesses underestimate the way that paid social can help bring in new customers and get you the best return on your marketing dollar. It takes time, sweat, savvy and a little luck to build an organic digital audience. But, most restaurants need results now, not twelve months from now. To get to the sort of market penetration you need to sustain your business, paid social is a key ingredient. To thrive, you need to use paid social effectively as part of a holistic marketing campaign. Some of the top things to keep in mind:

1. Paid social is great for quick promotion.

If you are a new business, opening a new location or need quick growth for another reason, paid social should be a part of your mix. You can get traction far more quickly and efficiently this way than you can with "earned" media. All of those eyes right away means more feet through your door now when you need it.

2. Paid social is a great way to reach exactly the audience you want.

Organic traffic is exactly what it sounds like: it is the traffic that reaches your social networking pages naturally, of their own volition. The problem with organic can be that you are not always getting your message in front of the audiences who are most likely to visit your restaurant. With paid social, you have a great deal of control over who sees your message. You can target geographically, by age or gender or by occupation. This allows you to put your social posts in front of the people most likely to convert and allows you to spend your social media budget in the most effective way possible.

3. You can get control by choosing the right networks for you.

If you are using a network where your audience is not likely to see it, you are wasting the money you put into paid social. Research the demographics of your customers and match your paid social placements to them. Pinterest, for instance, has a mostly female following, about half of whom are between 25 and 44. Instagram tends to skew toward Millennials.

4. Paid social can be more economical than organic social media.

It can seem counterintuitive: how can it be cheaper to pay to post instead of posting for free? However, because of factors that include social sites' algorithms and the enhanced message targeting you get with paid social, paying to post can give you far more mileage for your dollar. Instead of spending money on the labor hours it would take to get a high number of eyes on your posts, you can jump to the head of the line and get the exposure you need with far less effort.

5. You should use several types of content to gain exposure and engagement.

When crafting your paid social media campaigns, be sure to have a good content mix. Text-based posts should be mixed with images and video. Eighty-seven percent of posts shared on Facebook, for instance, contained images. A significant portion of time that users spend online is spent watching videos. This is particularly true when it comes to mobile users. So, include pictures of the great food that you serve, the views from your patio and engaging video from events at your location. These are all more likely to get the interaction you want and to entice customers to come to your place for a meal.

6. Sometimes, paid promotion is the only way to get users to see your message.

Even if you have a large and active Facebook Page for your business, there is a good chance that many users will never see your posts on their walls. Since January 1, 2015, Facebook's algorithm has been detecting overt commercial messages and has hidden them from users' feeds. The only way to get a commercial message seen is to create a paid social campaign. By using paid promotion for posts about specials and events, you can be more sure that your customers will see your post and come in for a visit.

By incorporating paid social into your social media marketing campaigns, you can get broader reach and contact with far more new and recurring customers than you ever could with just organic social traffic alone. Use careful targeting, great visuals and engaging messages to draw new customers in and keep your business at the top of current customers' minds. Over time, you will find that what you invest in paid social gives you an excellent return in the form of new customers and more frequent visits from the ones who already love your place.

Alex MembrilloAlex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning restaurant marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA. His innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. Membrillo has extensive experience with restaurant and franchise marketing. Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies. Visit to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions. Follow him on Twitter @Alex_Membrillo