How To Amplify Rave Reviews Or Positive Press Coverage About Your Restaurant
A positive review from a high-profile media source can do wonders for your restaurant. From increases in reservations to “likes” on Facebook, accolades from a respected news source can really increase interest in your restaurant. But no matter how positive the press, the reach of that story can only go so far for so long, and is limited to the audience of that site. Not long after being first published, your great review loses the attention of readers, as it comes off page one of its section, and traffic trails off as the article ages.
We're going to show you how to strategically continue to promote an article to thousands more people, on the cheap.
In this article, we'll provide the step-by-step process on how to leverage several of the most popular digital advertising platforms to amplify a positive 3rd party review, mention, or article about your restaurant to get 100x more exposure to a much larger, laser-targeted, and controlled audience that you hand select. This strategy is incredibly effective and was even featured in Digital Marketer, but we’ve tailored these tips specifically for the restaurant industry.
At the outset, we want to make an important point about a unique element of this strategy we’re sharing here: unlike most digital campaigns where your ads link to your website, these will not. The idea of promoting a positive review from a third party and then linking to that post (on the news site, etc and NOT your restaurant website) is that readers/ potential diners will take that third-party review as an objective vote of confidence, and thus a reliable, unbiased review which will offer more credability since someone else is saying it. As consumers, we all inherently understand that external reviews are more trustworthy than self-promotion, so share that positive press, and you'll be rewarded accordingly.
So what are we talking about and how does this actually work?
First, let's use a real world example so that we have some context. Let's assume that your restaurant just received rave reviews by your local newspaper restaurant critic. In our example, we're going to choose Ichiran NY located in Brooklyn. We have no affiliation with Ichiran, and only chose them as they recently received a nice review from Pete Wells of the New York Times, you can read the full review here.
After the review was published on the New York Times site, Ichiran shared it with their 5400 (approximate) Facebook followers (see below). But due to Facebook's filtering algorithm, only a small percentage of their 5,000+ Facebook followers actually saw the post about their Times review. This step is easy and free, and is something all restaurant owners and managers should be doing. However this is where most restaurants will stop in terms of promoting a great review or news article, but a lot of opportunity is being left on the table.
The biggest opportunity lies in the next few steps a restaurant owner or marketer could take to amplify this positive article using a few specific platforms and tactics. The steps below outline our plan for this and how to utilize each platform.
What to do after a good review about your restaurant is published
Below, we've outlined four powerful action steps that you can take to cost effectively reach more potential diners with your positive press. We outline not only the steps you need to take, but also the platforms you can use to promote a great article about your restaurant to 1000s more people in your local area on any budget- from just $2/day to $10,000+ over the course of a few weeks.
Facebook Promoted Post
The first, easiest, and possibly the most powerful thing you can do is to boost a post on Facebook. Using our example restaurant above, Ichiran could choose to promote the post they created to share the NY Times restaurant review they received.
When you promote a post, using the 'Boost Post' button, Facebook makes it really easy to select a few targeting options, pay, and submit your boost. Once you have done that, you'll want to access the Facebook ad account that is automatically created for you and review all of your targeting settings to ensure accuracy.
In the Facebook ad account section, you will be able to select precise geo-locations, age range, and hundreds of other demographics and interests such as income range, interests, behaviors, etc. And just as you can target people with certain criteria, you can exclude people, too! For example, if your restaurant tends to serve an older demographic, you could choose to exclude ad targeting to people under 30 or 35.
Google Display Network
Google's display network, also called GDN, allows you to put display ads on hundreds of reputable sites such as AOL, CNN, NY Times, Yahoo. With GDN, you can work off of your own curated list of website placements and you also specify a list of website to exlude your ads from appearing on too.
The power of Google’s Display Network stems from being able to layer on additional targeting parameters such as geo-targeting, demographics, and day-parting to help you get in front of the right audience, in the right place, at the right time.
You can start buying ads on GDN by opening a Google Adwords Account- this is the same account you would use to start a paid search keyword campaign, discussed in this article here. When setting up a display campaign in Adwords (vs a Search Campaign), note the very first setting which prompts you to choose the campaign type. It’s best to choose 'Display Network Only' vs any 'Search Network' options. Your GDN ads will appear across the web in various places as illustrated by the graphic below:
Ultimately, GDN offers a tremendous amount of ad inventory at a low cost, that you’re able to set. On that note, be sure to set this up as a CPC campaign vs a CPM campaign. This means that you are choosing to pay when someone clicks on your ad vs paying when someone sees your ad.
Further, there are some additional setting you should be aware of to get the max value from your display ads. Below, we highlight a few settings to make sure your ads do not appear in mobile apps. The reason we recommend against having your ads appear in apps is because people often click ads in mobile apps by mistake. When using an app, most people are completing a specific task (checking the weather, traffic, playing a game, etc) and are not interested in leaving that environment.
Although the click was a mistake, this accidental click will cost you money on a consumer who had no interest in your restaurant. Ads are very disruptive in the app environment, so in the graphic below, we show you the steps to remove ads from apps.
Native ads, also called content recommendation ads, are typically found at the bottom of an article on a news or other content site. Thousands of sites use native ads, but you only have to buy them from one platform to get an ad on hundreds of websites at once. And the good news is that there's plenty of affordable inventory available through these types of ads and platforms.
Native ads usually integrate with the look and feel of the website content around it, thus making it appear native, but they promote other articles that are relevant to a visitor. By virtue of this, native ads often receive a high engagement and click-thru rate, but offer a low cost-per-click. When you combine that strong performance with the geo-targeting, native is a great option for restaurant managers and owners to use to promote your latest great restaurant review, within the content of a premium site your target audience already likes (positive brand association).
Here's an example of native ads on CNBC.com:
There are several platforms that allow you to run native ads though the 2 largest being Taboola and Outbrain, both great choices that offer great distribution. A third and rapidly growing plaform, RevContent offers many great sites and native advertising options.
Twitter is an unassuming, yet compelling platform on which to promote your latest great review. The reason is that you can find a high concentration of highly engaged, focused enthusiasts, avid readers, and large groups of targeted people who follow food critics, many of whom are very active on Twitter.
Take for example the Twitter profile of Pete Wells, the writer who wrote the review mentioned above about Ichiran. Pete currently has over 117,000 followers on Twitter, and since he's a high profile restaurant critic, many of his followers likely have a strong interest in the NYC area restaurant scene.
If you had an NYC-based restaurant with a great review to promote, it would make sense to promote a Tweet on Twitter, and target all of Pete's 117,000 followers, since amany of them are likely residents of the NYC area, and have an interest in restaurants. Below, see the number of followers Pete has just by looking at his public Twitter profile page.
We'd also suggest you find and target a dozen or so other local restaurant critic's Twitter followers so that you get maximum coverage in your area. Since each city’s critics and writers are different in terms of what they cover, etc, you will want to research who best to target in your area.
Here's how you would target the specific audience of Twitter followers for any given writer or critic. You’d do this from within your Twitter advertising account. As you’re setting up your account, it’s important to note that Twitter estimates your audience size, and then allows you to reach not only your followers, but also people like your followers. We recommend you leave that last option unchecked:
Safe to assume that many of his followers are likely paying attention to his restaurant reviews.
The list of people you'd want to target followers of will really vary from area to area, as there are many different writers, bloggers and influencers that are specific to a city or local region. Be creative when brainstorming who’s followers might be interested in your restaurant, but just be sure they’re holistically aligned.
Conclusion & Tracking Results
In the days and weeks after launching your campaigns, your ad accounts on each platform all will provide you with transparent details on ad impressions, ads clicked (people who read the positive review), and money you have spent.
It’s extremely important to understand that since these campaigns will link directly to the review or article about your restaurant and not to your website, success should be measured in terms of how many people saw your ads, and then clicked through to read the article/review of your restaurant. The goal of this type of campaign is to raise awareness for your restaurant using the power of a positive review, not website visits.
Let us know how your experience with amplifying rave reviews about your restaurant goes. Leave us a comment or send us a note below, we answer every question.