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The Importance of Social Proof for Restaurants

Austin Chegini
17 Sep 2023

When you shop online, do you ever look to see what other people have to say about a product? When you see a social media post with thousands of likes, do you stop to see what the hype is about? 

If you sometimes base your decisions on what other people are saying/doing, you might be looking for social proof. 

For restaurant owners who want to grow their online presence, learning the importance of social proof is key. 

What is social proof?

In 1984, Robert Cialdini coined the term “social proof” in the book Influence. To summarise his main point, Cialdini essentially stated that people do what other people do. 

This influence relates to all aspects of life. If most of your colleagues take long lunch breaks, you will likely take a long break. If you are constantly seeing people visit a certain restaurant chain, you will likely want to try it out. 

In the digital world, social proof conveys that a product or service is trusted by others. For example, software companies commonly list all the big name companies that use their programs. By placing these company logos on their product pages, software companies show prospective buyers that other companies trust and pay for their programs.

Why it matters for restaurants?

Although the majority of restaurant patrons prefer in-person dining, your online presence is what drives many new customers through your doors.

As research shows, most people who search for “cajun food near me” or “best restaurants in town” will likely choose a result from the first page of search results. This phenomenon could be from laziness, but it could also be a social proof phenomenon. 

If a website ranks at the top of Google, it probably is good, right? So users will trust it because it is trusted by so many other people. 

On top of this, restaurants have many other ways to build social proof online.

Three ways to establish social proof

Use social media

With Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, how much more social can it get? 

These platforms are vital for any business that wants to build their presence and interact with local customers. And with pages showing how many people follow or like an account, users can quickly see just how popular certain businesses are. This popularity is vital for social proof, so you will want to brush up on your digital marketing abilities. 

Here’s how a restaurant can build social proof with social networks:

  • Provide all details about your business: Share your address, hours, website, and a short biography about your business.
  • Publish content regularly: Given how many “dead” social media pages and websites there are, it can sometimes be hard to tell if a business is still open. Posting fresh content shows consumers you are still serving up delicious meals.
  • Grow your audience: Encourage people to Like and Follow your accounts at every interaction. The more fans you have, the stronger your social proof.
  • Engage with users: Respond to comments and messages when appropriate. People want to see you’re responsive and have a personal aspect of your brand.

Build a website

Having a website is a must for any modern business. It shows you are professional, operational, and invest in your business. After all, if a company cannot afford to run a website, then it may not be worth visiting. 

Given the low cost of hosting and the ample free web builders available, starting your website has never been easier. Epos Now integrates with BigCommerce and other programs that help businesses launch websites quickly. 

When it comes to restaurants, there are a few key items to address on your website:

  • Location: Make sure to list your address and use a Google Maps plugin for easy directions.
  • Operating Hours: Let visitors know when you are open and on what days. Make sure to update this section for holidays and other events.
  • Menu and Prices: You can certainly upload a PDF of your menu, but using a digital menu with up to date pricing is best. Be sure to include photos of your best meals.
  • Reservations: If you take bookings, add a link to your reservation widget or let the customer know how to get in touch. 
  • Online ordering: Can diners get delivery or takeout? If so, make sure to list your online ordering partners. 
  • Image Gallery: Upload photos of your space, decor, and guests. Showing how much fun everyone is having is some of the best social proof for restaurants.

Get online reviews

Reviews are the most obvious form of social proof. They tell you what other people think, and therefore, can shape how you think. 

Diners use reviews to judge food quality, pricing, wait times, and more. However, people love to leave bad reviews more than good ones. While your business might have overwhelmingly happy customers, your digital reputation could get damaged by bad reviews.

Be sure to ask for reviews with every interaction. Each time a guest pays for a meal, kindly request that they leave a review. To encourage more feedback, you can give away a free item with each review. BUT, you cannot require guests to give you a glowing review. Per the terms and conditions of most websites, you can only reward reviewers if they leave honest feedback. 

As you start to get more feedback, bad restaurant reviews will increase as well. No matter how frustrating or false any review may be, make sure to respond respectfully and professionally. Address the issue, apologise, offer a solution, and invite the guest to visit you again. 

Grow your restaurant with Epos Now

Your point of sale is an integral part of your business. Epos Now specialises in creating POS systems for restaurants and other hospitality businesses. 

With Epos Now, you get:

  • 24/7 remote access
  • Cloud storage
  • Custom floorplans 
  • Over 100 app integrations, including food delivery and online ordering platforms
  • Detailed analytics and reporting dashboards

Speak with a consultant today to learn more about Epos Now.