One of the niftiest features on Facebook – an oldie but goodie that was introduced back in 2010 – is Facebook Places, which allows people to use the GPS on their mobile phones to let their friends know where they are located. Using Facebook’s Check-In button users can announce their location to friends and followers, including the name of the business they are currently frequenting. This can be great exposure for a restaurant – your restaurant – so it’s time to take advantage of this feature in order to keep your business at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Remind Your Customers to Check In
With Facebook always close by (no further than everyone’s omnipresent smartphone) it’s easy for people who visit your restaurant to check in – as long as they remember to do so. It’s only a matter of a few easy taps on the screen, but some diners – even loyal ones – may need a gentle nudge.
To keep the concept of checking in at the top of your customers’ list of priorities, try posting occasional reminders on your Facebook page and other social media sites that you use to encourage customers to check in when they visit your restaurant. Your social media pages – Twitter, Instagram, and others – are the best places to remind people to check in, since you’re probably addressing people who are already enthusiastic social media users and who are no strangers to features like check-in.
The drawback to encouraging check-in on Facebook itself is the “preaching to the choir” syndrome: you’re targeting people who are already on Facebook and not necessarily reaching people who don’t live on social media — and who may not already be following you. Therefore, always ensure that your website works in parallel with Facebook and remember to keep it updated. It’s another great way to encourage customers who have Facebook, but use it less often, to check in. In this way – with social media and your website working in tandem – you can ensure that all types of Internet users become aware of check-ins and start using them.
Use Facebook Signs to Prompt Check-Ins
As mentioned above, for some customers all you need to do is remind them to check in. Others may need tangible encouragement – like stickers or magnets – that you can post on physical objects (like your cash register or your front door or even your menu) to get customers to sit up and pay attention to your request for checking in. Facebook provides simple instructions and a page of printable “table tents” and stickers for immediate access to help boost customer awareness of check-ins. Even better, custom-made signage, which includes your restaurant’s name and other details, is useful for increasing the number of check-ins – and the exposure – your restaurant can enjoy.
Offer Incentives for Check-Ins
While many customers – especially loyal and devoted clients – are happy to check in when they frequent your restaurant, others may still need more encouragement. Offering incentives, such as discounts, deals, and promotions, will boost the possibility that reticent clients will take the extra few seconds to check in. Spread the word – on your Facebook page, website, and other social media outlets – that customers who check in will have access to great specials and bonuses. Launch a VIP program so that those who check in regularly will get discounts on meals or drinks, and they may be more likely to let others know about this deal, thus encouraging others to check in as well.
Another option is to hold a “check-in night” at your restaurant, where customers who have checked in are welcome and get special discounts on some of your signature dishes. Provide a party atmosphere, post photos, and ensure that those present spread the word even further to create a publicity domino effect for your restaurant.
An In-House Boost Never Hurts
Another built-in way to get the check-in process moving is to have your employees check in. (It goes without saying that your own friends and family should be encouraged to do so, as well.) Your staff’s Facebook friends will see the check-in, come visit, and then they’ll be more likely to check in when they visit your restaurant. Because the Facebook network is so far reaching, loads of people will see the check-ins as they spread across social media, and they’ll start to see your restaurant as a trendy place to visit. A little incentive can go a long way, and, at the same time, your most loyal customers will be happy to be partners in your success.
Check-ins should not be a one-time thing. Customers should be encouraged to check in every time they dine in your restaurant, creating multiple opportunities to spread your establishment’s name far and wide, and showing a wide network of Facebook users that your restaurant is a place to go to – and go to often. Offer a discount or a freebie to regular clients who consistently remember to check in, thus creating ongoing advertisement for your restaurant. To further encourage regular checking-in habits, offer an even bigger bonus for the diner or diners who check in the most, appealing to the competitive edge in all of us.
Partner with a Charity to Boost Your Presence
To add a more altruistic dimension to your request for check-ins, partner with a local charity and offer to support that organization every time someone checks in. Support can be in the form of a small donation, or a weekly meal for the needy, etc. This is a win-win option: customers are contributing to a charity in the easiest of ways, you are helping local organizations (and advertising your involvement), and your restaurant is getting a name for being socially aware and as a place for diners in the know to flock to.
Facebook Check-Ins: Free Advertisement
The beauty of check-ins is that they both increase your restaurant’s brand recognition and give you more exposure on search engines. Google, for instance, values businesses that have a high number of check-ins, as they view that type of business as trustworthy and legitimate. For virtually no money at all, you can get your clients to advertise your restaurant while you watch your business increase exponentially, as word spreads throughout the social network that is Facebook.