In-Ear Insights Social Media Marketing Basics for Food & Beverage

In-Ear Insights: Social Media Marketing Basics for Food & Beverage

In this episode of In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast, Katie and Chris discuss social media marketing and rebuilding a restaurant’s social media presence. They focus on establishing basic consistency first before considering more advanced tactics. They cover the importance of predictability for building trust and meeting audience expectations. You’ll learn an effective approach for realigning your social media with your ideal customer journey.

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In-Ear Insights: Social Media Marketing Basics for Food & Beverage

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn 0:00

In this week’s In-Ear Insights, let’s talk about block and tackle social media marketing.

Everyone in social media marketing has spent an awful lot of time focusing on the worst term to use since 2020.

of going viral, which, and instead, what does it look like to have a sustainable, not necessarily like doorbusters crazy social media program, but a program that does the block and tackle but delivers what the audience wants, and is something that is reliable and dependable.

So Katie, you’ve been doing a lot of work with a local food and beverage client.

And you’ve seen really good success from that block of tackle.

So talk about what the strategy is behind it, and then how you’ve been executing on that strategy? Yeah, absolutely.

Katie Robbert 0:47

So let me take a step back and give a little bit of context.

So this particular establishment is one that my husband and I have been going to for years, we’ve become really good friends with the owner and the general manager.

And just through the course of like, talking, just sort of checking in, I had asked them one day, a couple years ago, what was going on with their social media, because they had the post that we’re going out, we’re very confusing.

And full disclaimer, I am not a social media marketing expert.

But I have been doing it long enough to at least feel competent to do the basics.

And so I asked them, I was like, you know, why are you posting pictures of dishes that you don’t currently serve? And why is the copy weird gibberish haikus? Like what’s going on, just out of curiosity, and the general manager told me that they had hired an agency out of California.

So they’re based in Massachusetts, the agency is based out of California.

And they were not able to get in contact with anyone from that agency.

They, you know, would email them, this is what we want to post and get no response.

And so they just had no way to really cancel the contract, either.

So what was happening was, the general manager had kind of figured out that every Tuesday at 3pm, they had scheduled one post a week.

That was it.

That’s all they were getting.

And so she would had a timer.

When she saw the post go up, she would immediately delete it.

And I said to her, I’m like, you know that that’s a terrible strategy.

She’s like, I know, it’s really annoying.

And so, you know, the conversation evolves, he will if you ever want to change course, change agencies, you know, let me know.

And so fast forward to about six months ago, she said, we’re ready, we’re ready to finally invest in this.

And so that was sort of like the context of just me being my usual nosy, bossy self of, hey, it looks like you’re doing this wrong.

Do you want me to fix it for you? And so now, so Chris, and I have now gotten access to all of their digital assets, their website, we first cleaned up their website, put in proper tracking, and then did a bit of a photo shoot with all of their new winter menu items.

Because what they were lacking was basic content.

Basic evergreen, hey, it’s Monday.

Do you want this dish? Hey, it’s Tuesday.

Here’s a drink.

Hey, it’s Wednesday, we have gift cards.

And so your question, Chris, in terms of the block and tackle, what I’m doing with them is reestablishing their brand on social media as consistent.

as reliable as what you see is what you get.

Because they’re a restaurant, they don’t need to do over the top, like marketing it like buzzing go look at us data.

It’s Hey, we have some really good food, you like food, come get the food.

If you show people pictures of food, they will generally show up, provided that the pictures are good quality.

Christopher Penn 4:06

And that makes sense because it really is the the heart of customer centric marketing, right? If you go to a restaurants website, you want one of basically three things.

I want to see what I’m gonna get.

Yep, I want to know how to get there.

And I want to know what’s on the menu.

Right? Those? I don’t really go to a restaurants website for, you know, philosophical thoughts about AI.


I just want to know if you have, you know, crispy fried chicken.


And in the social media strategy, that seems to be the most sensible thing for a company is to figure out what does your audience actually want and then give it to them?

Katie Robbert 4:43

Well, and you know, and it’s interesting because I sit on the other side of social media, a lot of times when we’re looking at the data where we’re helping our clients figure out who their audiences what they want to post, you know, how often they want to pose the perfect time to pose all of these different variables, but in this particular situation, it’s almost none of that the audience is people who are hungry, within roughly a 25 mile radius.

And you know, the strategy is put up pictures of the really delicious food.

And pn, how people can get it.

When it’s available.

Make sure that the hours are up to date, make sure the contacted it’s very, very basic, which it’s interesting, because as I’m scheduling out the content, I often wonder, Is this too basic? Is this enough? Are we doing enough to really, you know, build their social media presence? And the answer is, yes, we absolutely are.

We’re doing exactly what this audience needs us to be doing.

We are showing them what is available.

And we are letting them know how they can get it.

Christopher Penn 6:00

I think there’s probably a hierarchy for social media management, right? There’s basic, intermediate, advanced, and a lot of people were thinking about best time to post and optimizing post copy.

If the it’s like everything’s the basics aren’t in place, that’d be mad stuff doesn’t matter.

Katie Robbert 6:17

Well, and it’s interesting.

So I’ve been going, I’ve been using Facebook or sort of meta business suite, to post for both their Facebook and Instagram.

And it always suggests this is when your audience is most responsive, this is when you should be posting.

But I look at that.

And my gut instinct is i, we don’t have enough data.

In order to really say, Yes, this is the best time to post because up until recently, the social media posts were not going out consistently.

So I have a hard time believing that this algorithm already knows when the audience is most engaged, if it only has a very small sampling of data to work with.

And so I would rather have six months of consistent everyday posting.

And then take a look at the best times to post when people are most engaged.

One of my you know, first tactics is get one social media post out a day, just one and you know, start to build that consistency for their brand.

I get it, you know, so separately.

I’ve run the analytics for marketers, Slack community, that’s our free Slack community where people can join it’s trust, marketers.

And I often get messages of how, what is how do you grow this community? I’m growing my own community, what is it that you do? And the number one answer I give is consistency.

Every single day, even if people don’t respond to it every single day, I post a question of the day at 10am.

Eastern, to now to the point where if it doesn’t go out at 10am, somebody’s gets concerned, or there was one day that John, our business partner, messaged me, he’s like, uh, is there no question of the day? I’m like, John, look at your watch.

It’s only 9am.

He’s like, it’s like Pavlovian, like, I really expect it to go out.

And that’s the consistency of it, people then show up, they know what to expect from you.

And that’s the same of the basics of this social media strategy is, I want the audience to start to expect there’s going to be one post today, it’s going to tell me what’s going on at the restaurant, it’s going to tell me I can either go down there and buy a gift card or a t shirt, or here’s what’s on special or here’s everything on the menu, or it’s just going to remind me that they’re there that they’re open that we’re here.


Christopher Penn 8:48

And the advantage of something like that with the regular scheduling too, is that because it’s a focus point of engagement, you’ll get more engagement on that post, as opposed to having it kind of be at random times when people may or may not be around if people know that it’s there.

You know, one of the things we used to say, a lot in our keynotes in the days before everything was about AI is Do you remember when Seinfeld was on, you know, regular broadcast TV? And people say yeah, Thursdays at nine on NBC, it was when it was on.

And I’m like, Why do you still know that 30 years later, because it was valuable content at a predictable time.

Katie Robbert 9:25

And that is, you know, humans, as much as we’d like to say that humans are unpredictable.

Humans are predictable humans like routine, it’s comforting.

It feels safe.

And if you can provide that experience, even if you’re a restaurant, posting your food online, if you can provide that consistent, comfortable, safe, predictability, then you start to build that brand trust of you showed me a picture of chicken wings.

I know I can go to your restaurant and get that exact same thing that I just saw a picture of, I can shove my phone On in your face and say I want this and know that it’s going to show up at my table, you know, 10 minutes later, which, yes, people do that they will show up with their phones and shove it in the waitresses face and say, give me this, which is totally rude, but it happened.


Christopher Penn 10:13

you know, that’s funny you say it because humans do like predictability.

Our neurology is actually based on prediction.

We talk a lot in AI about prediction and how language models work and stuff.

But it’s pattern on our brains, our brains, our prediction engines, the amygdala in your brain is essentially a small part of your brain that is designed to handle things you didn’t predict, like, like, oh, shit, something’s happening.

There’s a, there’s a boar, there’s a wild boar here that’s not supposed to be here.

And, like, okay, run.

But we like prediction, even language itself, the way our brains work, we are also prediction engines.

So like, the next word in the in our in a sentence is a prediction made by our brain.

And so if you apply that principle to marketing, something you said, though, is super important is predictability leads to trust, if I know, the chicken wings are always going to be on the menu.

I can trust that if you know, if there’s nothing else I know, I can get that eaten.

So predictability is, I think, such an under underrated part of marketing.

Katie Robbert 11:16

I would agree with that.

I think that, you know, marketers get too caught up in to your point, when you started of what can we do to go viral, or what is like the next big thing, the conversation, the buzzword, the topic that we can all sort of, you know, grab on to and just ride the coattails until it dies.

In this instance, that does not apply.

In this instance, the strategy is predictability consistency, let me demonstrate that you will get the same high quality experience over and over and over again, that is the end game for this particular client for this particular social media strategy.

Is that predictability?

Christopher Penn 12:02

It’s not even, it doesn’t have to be high quality.

Think about it.

What is the what is the promise of McDonald’s? Right? It is mediocre food that is pretty much the same anywhere on the planet, you step into a McDonald’s in Seoul, or in Belgrade or in Kyiv.

And it’s pretty much the same thing.

And that predictability makes it what it is like, when you go into McDonald’s, you don’t expect Oh, look, there’s weird sushi on the menu, and the Big Mac is missing.

Like that never happens yeesh

Katie Robbert 12:34

if it does run, but

Christopher Penn 12:35

that’s predictability.

I mean, that’s that’s the cornerstone of that franchises, you know what you’re gonna get? Right?

Katie Robbert 12:42

No, and that is absolutely true.

So in terms of the high quality, that’s a cornerstone of this particular restaurant, that is the experience that they want to deliver.

And so they don’t need to deliver the high quality experience on social media, they want social media to be the awareness tool that then brings people in to get that high quality, consistent experience.

So the food is always consistent, you’re always going to get the same level of service.

You know, it occurs to me that, you know, when I was talking with this particular client, about social media, we actually had a conversation about the purpose of social media.

And it was something that they not being they’re focused on the food, they’re focused on the business, the digital marketing is not something that they are experts in.

So there was a lot of education, in terms of what it means like, what can we do with this.

And it turned out initially, they were trying to make the website and social media do too many things, which I think is a common problem for a lot of companies, especially if your focus is not marketing, if your focus is actually like the business and something else.

You don’t know that there are other channels that you can use to, you know, do your retention to do your conversions.

One specific digital asset can’t do it all.

That’s asking too much.

And so we went through the five P process.

So if you’re not familiar, the five P’s are purpose people process, platform and performance purpose being the question you’re trying to answer.

People being who needs to help you answer this question, who needs the answer? process? How are you going to do the thing platform? What tools do you need and performance? Did we answer the question? And so we went through this process of the five Ps with the client and determined together that the website is really just a menu.

So the website is there for when people find out about you.

So the very clean ideal customer journey, obviously, this changes, but the ideal is somebody the algorithm serves up a post from this particular restaurant, they say, Oh, that looks good.

Let me check out the website.

The website is then A continuation of fact finding, let me learn about them.

Okay, this looks really good.

Now I’m hungry, where’s the address, find the address, and then you physically go there.

And that’s the conversion.

So it’s almost like a three step, or even four steps.

So it could be word of mouth, hey, I went to this really great place, you’re like, oh, that sounds good.

Let me find them on social media, find them on social media.

So you have your awareness, you have your engagement, go to the website, that’s consideration.

And then they actually physically go there.

And that’s purchase.

And so that’s the ideal journey that we want them to go through.

So then we had to pick apart each of the digital assets.

So you have social media, you have the website to make sure that they were doing their function.


Christopher Penn 15:45

when you do that, what did? What are the things that you constantly chose not to do with social media or other things? Because they obviously there’s a social media can apply to every phase of the customer journey.

What did you intentionally say, you know, we’re not going to do that.

Katie Robbert 16:01

So we decided that we’re not going to promote anything that doesn’t revolve around the food.

And so for example, they have a lot of really great TVs in the bar.

But the owner does not want to promote it as a sports bar, he doesn’t necessarily want people to go, oh, I need to go watch the game.

Let me find a bar to watch the game at.

He wants people to keep centering it around the food.

So for example, yesterday, it was, hey, we have really good nachos, we have really good this Oh, and by the way the game will be on.

And so really making sure that we’re keeping the focus specifically on the things that you can purchase once you come to the restaurant.

And that is very limited to food, drink, gift cards, those are the things that you can purchase.

They had been promoting, you know, live music and this and that.

And we decided that it just it’s not that it’s not appropriate for social media.

But it was it was a distraction from what we wanted the brand trust to be on social media, and that there will be other channels that we could use to promote these events, as we get people to keep coming back as we get to the retention.

And so we wanted to sort of take retention off the table for now.

So that we could refocus.

Social media is a purely awareness.

We just want people to know, here’s what we have to offer you as a product.

Christopher Penn 17:31

That makes sense to because the unique selling proposition to any bar could have TVs, right, any bar can have live music.

And there’s probably a whole cadre of local live musicians that you can see it pretty much at every bar because they’re just going to circuit All right.

So the only differentiator then is the dining experience.

Because you can say this food is better than that food.

Katie Robbert 17:50

That’s exactly it.

And that was the conversation that we had is that you can get you know, a TV with the game on anywhere, it doesn’t mean that the food is going to be any good.

So we want people when football season’s over when hockey season is over, to remember that the food at this particular establishment is really, really good.

And that’s what they’re looking for.

So when they’re looking for a good meal when they’re looking for, you know, high quality wings, if they’re looking for really good five star service, they know that this brand association of I’m going to get wings, I’m going to go to this restaurant because that’s what they offer is what they’re going to get.

You can get a crappy burger, and a beer and the game pretty much anywhere.

You can even get that probably in a McDonald’s.

Christopher Penn 18:39

That was pause I don’t know about the beer part, but you can get the crappy burger with the game.

So in terms of what comes next, you’ve got the basics down.

Now, what comes next with social media marketing strategy? What? How do you address things like retention and reengagement? Or are you looking at other channels like Tiktok? For example?

Katie Robbert 19:01

We are so that’s exactly it.

So before before we got into other channels, other you know, tactics, we wanted to reestablish the foundation as solid.

So we know that social media is with the channels they currently have.

The platforms they currently have.

We’re solid, so they have Facebook, they have Instagram, the next step is to introduce threads after that introduce things like tick tock because they have a lot of content, but it was just not being used.


So we wanted to establish first, what can we use? What would people respond to? And then how can the next step will be to how can we repurpose it, what other channels might make sense what you know, what would be engaging and awareness driving? In addition to that, we talked about starting a newsletter and so a lot of restaurants have newsletters, but they’re Not the type of newsletters that you and I typically write Chris, you know, they’re not a, let me tell you everything that’s going on in the AI world.

So a restaurant wouldn’t necessarily let me tell you everything that’s going on in the restaurant industry.

It’s not necessarily the purpose that that’s not why people sign up for a newsletter for a restaurant.

And so that’s something that we need to uncover a little bit more of, if you’re going to sign up for a newsletter, have one more thing in your inbox, what is it you need to get from this particular establishment.

And so we’re making assumptions that people want to know more information about the specials about the live entertainment about the things that would keep them coming back, in addition to the really good food.

And so we figured that that was a really good place to start to put that information.

So it wasn’t distracting people on social media.

Christopher Penn 20:48


I think the other two things that people would look for in the newsletter one, obviously, is, is any kind of coupons, discounts or savings.

Yeah, that’s, that’s the table minimum.

And the other, depending on the architecture of the system could be referral rewards, okay, bring a friend kind of things and you get two for one on on appetizers or something along those lines that grow, that gives a nudge that word of mouth.


Katie Robbert 21:13

And that’s definitely something that we’ve talked about in terms of what would go into the newsletter, you know, we talked about that could be a really good place for, you know, a discount code for repeat customers.

But first, you have to get those customers in the door.

And that’s where social media, so these two channels have to work hand in hand.

Social media is what gets them in the door.

And then the newsletter is what keeps them coming back.

Christopher Penn 21:38


What about semi social channels like YouTube?

Katie Robbert 21:43

It’s, you know, I think it depends on what the data is going to tell us.

And so off the top of my head, I’m like, oh, that absolutely doesn’t make sense.

Because they’re a restaurant, but that’s not true.

It depends on what kind of content they can, they’re able to put on YouTube.

So YouTube is obviously video.

And so we would need to work with them to establish some kind of video content strategy, that is more than just let me do a 360 of one of their drinks.

I can’t imagine that that would do particularly well on YouTube, because YouTube is more my understanding.

And again, I would need the data to confirm this.

YouTube is more of a how do I you know, what, you know, what is how does this work, and it’s more of the curiosity questions.

And so you go to YouTube to learn how to do something, or how something works or the backstory to something.

And so for a restaurant, if you’re going to, and a lot of restaurants do have YouTube channels, but it’s usually the chef showing you doing a demo of how they make a certain dish, knowing that you at home probably can’t create it because you don’t have 30 years of experience doing this thing over and over and over again, or the equipment that they have at the restaurant.

But there’s no harm in showing you how it’s done.

And so it could make sense provided that you were able to create the right kind of content for that channel.

I think that’s one of the things that we we know, but we’re also educating about social media is that there’s a slightly different purpose to each social media channel.

So what works on Facebook doesn’t necessarily work on Instagram doesn’t necessarily work on threads, and so on, so forth.

And so while we’re reestablishing the foundation, we’re also learning what works on Instagram for this particular client, what works on Facebook and then taking those learnings and then building that with the other channels?

Christopher Penn 23:47

No, that’s that is the way to do that.

Because it’s all about intent.

Like if you’re on Instagram, you are there to look at pretty pictures.

You exactly having food photos makes total sense.

We often say YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, if you’re searching for something specific there, then you you know what it is you want to get at.

And that yeah, that is a very different video strategy than even a Tiktok channel, which is no more very much more short form, sort of quick concept stuff.


Katie Robbert 24:19

I think that, you know, unless the client, this client, unless a restaurant is willing to create that content, then it’s just going to be a waste of everybody’s time because the channel won’t be successful.

It’ll just be resources that you know, are short, that we don’t have a lot of, you know, time budget content.

So we really need to determine is it the right move, or are we good with the two channels that we’re currently running? Is that enough?

Christopher Penn 24:51


Have you have you investigated using things like generative AI as part of the strategy it was? assemble this stuff for to analyze maybe what the audience would want, I

Katie Robbert 25:05

haven’t yet.

I think once I have more data, I think that will make sense.

At this time, I feel like the data set is so small in terms of, you know, so we only just really, really set up their analytics tracking, we got their website straightened out with proper metrics.

And so I personally, I could be wrong, but I personally don’t feel like two months worth of data is enough that I would need generative AI to step in, especially where their website is so small.

But I think once we have more, more time, with consistent social media data, I can see exporting that data and bringing it into generative AI to help put together some sort of a more sophisticated analysis than what you might get out of meta business suite to say, you know, this is the profile of your audience, these this is who engages, these are the times that they are most engaged.

This is the type of content that is resonating and putting together basically, all of those individual tactics like post a picture of a burger to this audience at this time, on this day, like I generative AI can help me put that together.

But I just don’t feel like I have enough data yet to use that system.

Christopher Penn 26:23

I think you’re absolutely right, that you don’t have enough data.

But I think the data sources themselves, this is something that not a lot of restaurants do what they could, instead of trying to pull it out of marketing systems, do a series of one on ones with you know, identify eight typical customers, you know, the Friday night guy who comes in for beer wings in the game, the family that comes in Saturday afternoons for you know, a kid friendly meal, and sit down with those folks for 15 or 20 minutes and say, Hey, why do you come here? What do you look forward to? What do you like, what do you don’t like, and that raw content from interviews with then you would feed into things like a custom GPT? Like, hey, here’s, you know, Sally soccer mom.

And you can talk to Sally saw Come on, based on the 30 minutes or 45 minutes of her responses, say, Oh, this is we have this new thing.

How would you feel about this? Well,

Katie Robbert 27:17

even to that point, Chris, one of the things that I know that you did was you took a look at all of the reviews that are posted online.

So Yelp reviews, Google reviews, and took all of that raw text, and ran it through generative AI to come up with here’s what people like, here’s what people don’t like, if you do more of this, people will respond positively.

And that is also something that I don’t know that restaurants necessarily have the resources to do themselves is to basically extract all of that review data and analyze it.

That’s a really I mean, that is rich marketing research.

Christopher Penn 28:00

It is it’s and it’s already there.

You don’t have to do the work.

It’s the work has been done for you people, people are not shy about sharing their opinions.

So but no, this is I think this has been a super interesting way to look at almost a case study of how to use block and tackle social media marketing with data with also art and as art as much as science and come up with a platform for rolling out what success on social media looks like.

If you’ve got some thoughts that you’d like to share about what block and tackle social media marketing looks like and how well it works, pop into our free slack.

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