Mark McCulloch: When you look at restaurant social media channels, what are the biggest mistakes you see them making?

There is no rule book, this is all still pretty new and people are playing at it rather than making it a part of their strategy.

The biggest mistake is the lack of respect and understanding not only of social but of digital in our industry. If you look at true e-tailers and broadcasters, our industry of food and drink is light years behind (in the main). However we should see this as an opportunity as if we (say my restaurant chain) could get it right, then the rewards are massive and you could leapfrog all competition by miles.

There is no rule book, this is all still pretty new and people are playing at it rather than making it a part of their strategy.

We started Spectacular Social this year as we could see the need to some kind of best practice/innovative agency that lives and breathes food and drink but could still bring 8 years of social media experience to the table (YO! Sushi, Chop’d, Fuller’s, Pret a Manger and GBK to name a few).

The mistakes that people are making can be avoided by taking a step back and looking at the following as the structure upon which they can build and engaging social presence. I could write for days on this, but here are 10 tips as a kick off.

1) Know your brand inside out. How you look, sound and what you stand for. This will give you confidence when posting.

2) Know you target audience inside out. Their habits, locations, where else they eat and shop, their hobbies, their jobs – everything. Be a stalker. This makes for precise targeting.

3) Create content by being in venue, not batch making content then posting it weeks later. It looks, smells and feel stale (because it is). You need to capture those live moments from customers and from teams. Document everything.

4) Answer everyone that ever interacts with you online. I don’t mean a ‘like’ back. I mean mentioning them by name, creating a conversation, as if you were talking to a friend.

5) Think about how you can talk about the same thing in a million different ways.

6) Get obsessed about your competition and how they are doing social. You could learn a lot. Steal with pride. But be you, not an imitator.

7) Repost user content. People have taken the time to promote you. So please promote them and their personal brand.

8) Don’t do the same thing on every channel. The difference and how you should act on speak in every channel is the difference between Scottish and Japanese. Respect each channel.

9) Ensure your restaurant is ‘grammable and by that I mean give reasons for people to post themselves in your environment. If you are ever curious about this, just visit Palm Vaults in Soho and Hackney or any of the Grind coffee shops/cocktail bars. They are a masterclass in this. Your product, teams, signage, interiors, furniture, toilets, uniforms, menus, crockery etc are all ripe for snapping and posting.

10) Ensure you are putting £5k each month into social and for you to have internal/external resource looking after this 24/7/365, creating content, posting and responding.  

11) Allow 30-60 minutes to craft each Instagram post. It takes time, so give it the time and attention it deserves.

12) Make your Instagram stories a story. Don’t just go through a flyer or a zoomy in and outy picture of your burger up there with some scribbles. It needs to be something worth watching and have a beginning, middle and an end.


Mark McCulloch is the founder and CEO of WE ARE Spectacular, a London-based creative collective who work with brands to increase their sales through grabbing people’s attention with fresh strategies and innovation.

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