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A guide for restaurant owners during the COVID-19 closure: Four steps to strengthen your digital presence

Frames + Letters Photography

If your restaurant, bakery, or bar has been shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, there’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot less money coming in, but also – perhaps a little free time. You can and should use this time to rest, recharge and be ready for action when things are safe again. It’s time to tend to a very important business task: updating your digital presence!

I’m Johanna, a Louisville-based food photographer passionate about educating restaurant and bar owners on how professional images can positively impact their business.

Here are some ideas for you during the next few weeks that will help to strengthen and support your business in this difficult time, as well as to remind your customers you are still here for them.

Step 1: Evaluate

Maduros from Noche Mexican BBQ

When was the last time you evaluated your digital presence? Are you on social media? Do you use a website? Do you blog? Is your page on Google Reviews – if so, what rating do you currently have? Do you have an email list? Do you offer online ordering? What areas of your business feel stagnant, overwhelming, unexplored, or tedious, and how can you improve them during the next few weeks? 

Your restaurant is closed – how can you still provide services to your clients online? Find solutions to the questions you answered “no” to, or the areas of your business that are currently unestablished or in serious need of an update.

Step 2: Update

Patacón from Los Andes Food Truck

Next, take an inventory of the last time you updated the following:

  • Your website (each page)
  • Your social media/web “about” (bio on Instagram)
  • Your social media highlights/story
  • Live videos to connect with your audience
  • Your web, social, menu photos
  • Your profile picture (are there photos of the people who make things happen??)
  • Your menu items
  • Specials and promotions
  • Your blog
  • Your business cards

Use the extra time you have to update your website info or social media bios and start planning for your next promotions, menu changes, and think about how you can update and integrate your images across all your visual platforms. (That’s where I can help – keep scrolling!)

Step 3: Create

Having professional images of your menu items is a MUST. We live in a world where images fuel choices, and while using the occasional iPhone picture is totally acceptable, those who have professional images definitely stand out in the very crowded digital space. On social media, having new content on a regular basis is vital for multiple reasons – it helps you to connect with your audience, reminds them to visit you, keeps them informed of current specials and promotions, and ultimately allows you to influence people to spend their money and time with you. 

What kinds of images are currently on the Internet that represent your brand? Check Google Images, Instagram, Facebook, and your website. Are there videos that represent your brand?

Click here to check out some of the cool things I like to do for my clients!

If you saw your current images in your social media feed, would you scroll past it or want to know more about it? 

Your restaurant may be closed to the public, but this is the time to be posting about your future plans for the business once it’s back open. It’s also a great time to start thinking about having new food photos taken!

Here’s how I can help: As a food photographer, my goal is to work with you in order to create images that will be functional, elevate your brand, and be versatile enough to use in different ways along many platforms for long periods of time, so you can get the most bang for your buck. Visit the Food Photography page on my website to learn more!

Step 4: Promote

Once you evaluate your digital presence, update your information to the public, and have some professional images taken of your product, it’s time to think about using those images to promote your restaurant, bakery, bar, or brand.

  • Do you have a budget for advertising/promotion, both in print and online?
  • Do you regularly share your work on your personal pages and with friends and families?
  • Can you do a giveaway to get new customers in the door?
  • Would you like to collaborate with local bloggers or influencers who will help promote your restaurant as well?
  • Do you have a person who is skilled with social media who could help to coordinate and create regular content for your followers?
  • Do you have an email list where you share special discounts to subscribers?
  • Have you asked friends, family, and clients to leave you a review on Yelp, Google, and Facebook?

Create a specific, consistent strategy to share content with your audience, whether it’s posting 3 times a week or a monthly email list – whatever will keep your business front of mind to your customers. 

Ready to elevate your brand? I create custom food photography and social media packages for local businesses, and I’d love to show you more of what I can do to help you boost your online presence with quality images and a strong digital strategy. Let’s find the perfect balance for your business, so that you can maintain a fresh digital presence and stand out on Google, social media, your website, or wherever you show up online.

If you need to update the images of your menu items, headshots of your crew, or just want some more content to share on social media, fill out the content form below and let’s talk food photography + social media strategy.

johanna elise

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