If you are like many restaurant owners, you know that your staff spends a great deal of time (hopefully off the clock) on social media. Yet if you are like most restaurant owners, you may not have considered how this behavior could have a positive impact on your business.

Restaurant owners have long understood the value and impact that word-of-mouth marketing can have on their bottom line. If a friend, colleague, or family member tells you about a good experience they had a local eatery, you are more likely to trust their opinion and may wish to try it as well.

In 2014, a study conducted by Verizon and Small Business Trends found that 85% of customers learn about a business through word-of-mouth. What’s even more surprising about this statistic is that when the study was first surveyed in 2005, the result was 83%.

By now, you likely know that social media presents an opportunity to leverage similar word-of-mouth recommendations and endorsements. However, there is one surprising social media tactic that is increasing in popularity: employee social media advocacy.


What is Employee Social Media Advocacy?

Employee advocacy refers to the promotion of an organization by its employees. This can take many forms including email, chat, forums, discussion boards, but the most common and effective channel is social media. Assuming your employees care about your restaurant (and if they don’t then maybe they don’t need to be there) then they can be one of your biggest marketing assets.

According to Marketing Profs, employees are hiding their superpowers regarding what they can do for your brand. Some of the most staggering statistics include:

–    Content shared by employees receives eight times the engagement than content on branded channels

–    1000 employee advocates can reach 1 million customers, drive 50,000 social engagements, and create 5,000 unique pieces of content.

–    A 12% increase in brand advocacy can double revenue growth

(source: http://www.marketingprofs.com/chirp/2014/24740/unleash-the-superpowers-of-employee-advocates-infographic

Three Ways that Employee Social Media Advocacy Works

A bigger reach

If you consider that each employee may have eight or more social network accounts with a few hundred followers, you can begin to see the size of your employees’ social media footprint and the marketing reach it presents. Every chef, sous chef, server, bartender, and host has a personal social media network that could amount to thousands of potential customers within your reach, dramatically expanding the possibilities of peer-to-peer endorsement.

Trustworthy endorsements

A study found that an employee sharing company content on their newsfeed had 20 times more impact than a brand publishing on their page, for the reason that individuals are more likely to trust and believe content shared by another individual rather than a company or brand sharing it about themselves. The same applies to the real world. Would you be more likely to believe that Starbucks employees have high job satisfaction because Starbucks posted it on their corporate press page, or because your friend who works there shared the story on their wall?

Amplified messaging

Social media advocacy works in tandem with your corporate or brand messaging to have a synergistic effect. With your employees contributing to the conversations around your restaurant brand, it further emphasizes your own messaging because you are not the only one having the conversation. Use your employees and their existing social media networks to deliver messages about your products or services in a way that feels authentic, natural, and trustable. Not only could their posts be influential to potential customers, but social postings can spread company culture and can express your values, missions, and goals to their audience.

Build a social media advocacy army

One of the most significant benefits of using employee advocacy on social media is that its momentum can be self-sustained by your employees once they understand the policies that govern your social media presence. Social media marketing’s success is often tied to not only a regular stream of valuable, engaging content but in remaining consistent and spreading approved messages to enhance your brand’s reputation online. In this way, you can leverage social media advocacy by using your employee’s existing social behaviors to grow your brand’s online presence further.

At Absolute Marketing Solutions, we partner with restaurant owners to help educate and empower their staff and employees to devise a custom social media marketing strategy to accelerate growth and build a world-class brand experience.