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Josh Phillips
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February 12, 2018

Which social media channels should I choose for my coffee shop?

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So, you make a mean macchiato.

 

Your coffee’s to die for and your storefront turns the head of everyone who walks past.

 

Driving footfall to your store isn’t a problem.

 

But how’s your social media game?

 

With 64% of the UK’s population describing themselves as active users of social media, you can’t afford to miss out on a social audience.


Even if you’re not actively managing your cafe’s social media, chances are your cafe is already on social media.

 

You don’t need to be on social media for people to have written about you, be it a dreamy Instagram snap, or a bad TripAdvisor review. And you may already have an automatically-generated Facebook page with your business’s name.

 

Running your cafe’s social media means that you can manage your presence and take control of how you are perceived.

 

This blog post will take you through three of the most used and most useful social media channels.

Facebook

For many businesses, especially those without websites, Facebook is a non-negotiable. Facebook is the most used social media platform in the world, with over two billion users at the end of 2017. That’s billion with a ‘b’.

 

Not only does Facebook have by far the world’s largest base of users, it offers an array of nifty features for business users. These include the ability to create a business page with your details on, which acts like a mini-website, with the ability to display information like your location, your opening hours, and more, as well as to create, share, and schedule posts, images, and videos, much like a normal Facebook page does. In addition, you get access to Facebook’s suite of business page analytics, that can tell you who’s using your page, when they use it, and how they use it. Oh, and you can’t use Facebook’s powerful paid advertising tools without a Facebook business page. Facebook’s pretty useful.

 

Let’s unpack how useful.

 

A Facebook business page is a Facebook page, for your cafe. So far, so good. Over 60 million businesses have one. They basically act like a one-stop shop for information on your business. People expect to see info on things like your address and location, which Facebook automatically displays on a map, your opening hours, menus and special offers, as well as details of upcoming events.

 

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As well as displaying basic information on your cafe, Facebook business pages can also act somewhat like personal pages, in that you can use them to post updates and interact with your customers. This is pretty vital -- it’s what makes your media social. Over five billion comments are left on business pages by Facebook users every month, but in 2016, over 62% of them went ignored by the page. That’s not a good look. Customers equate fast responses with good service, so it’s important to keep on top of things.

 

As well as responding to customers’ comments, queries and (hopefully) glowing praise, Facebook pages allow you to post rich content like photos and videos. It’s worth spending time on photo and video posts -- Facebook posts with images earned 87% of all engagements.

 

Facebook gives you a lot of options for posting, but it’s important to ration your posting. While you used to be able to get away with a lot of Facebook posts, Twitter has taken Facebook’s crown. Instead, you need to post relatively infrequently but make sure you’re providing value with each post.

 

So, when should you post?

 

Facebook’s News Feed isn’t ordered chronologically, strictly speaking. Instead, a complex algorithm governs what users see, taking into account their interests, likes, and favourites, the type of post, and much more besides. Timing still matters, though, and there are windows when you should post for maximum impact:

 

Hootsuite, a social media scheduling app, has worked out that the best time to post on Facebook is between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, while on the weekend you ought to post between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. That said, if your page’s analytics are different, then it’s best to go with what your data tells you.

Twitter

While Facebook is good because its business pages work like websites, with information and ‘sticky’ content, Twitter is popular for the opposite reason. The Twitter timeline, which updates in real time (more or less…), creates a never-ending stream of quickfire, compulsively-clickable tweets, of 280 characters or less.

 

To quantify this, the average tweet has a “half-life” of 24 minutes. That compares to 90 minutes for a Facebook post.

 

This necessitates taking a very different tack to Facebook. There’s a relatively small window of opportunity for your tweets to get seen, before they get washed away in a flood of memes and fast food brands joking about nuclear war.

 

But this isn’t a bad thing: Twitter doesn’t just let you engage with your customers and followers in real time; it lets you talk with them.

 

And, when you talk with your audience online, you get the chance to tell your cafe’s story.

Just like on Facebook, tweets with images do better than ones without -- twice as well, in fact. So, including tantalising snaps of latte art and delicious food is a definite plus.

 

And the same applies with hashtags -- tweets with #phraseslikethis get seen twice as much engagement as those without. This is largely because hashtags act as hyperlinks, so whenever a Twitter user clicks on a hashtag that you have used, they will see all tweets that use that hashtag -- including yours.

 

Much like Facebook, Twitter has a rich suite of analytics that gives you valuable insight into who follows you, as well as who sees your tweets, and when they look for them.

 

You can drill down into how well each tweet has performed -- you can see how many users have seen your tweet (the number of impressions it has got), and how many users have clicked on it (the number of engagements your tweet gets). This type of data is valuable in working out what posts do well, and the direction you could head in.

 

Twitter’s analytics also gives you insights into your followers, segmenting them by age, gender, location, and by what they’re interested in. This data is valuable in working out how best to target them. 

 

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But what about when to tweet?

 

Buffer did research based on over 4.8 million tweets, and found that although the most popular time to tweet is between noon and 1 p.m. every day, and the most tweets were sent then, tweets tend to receive more engagements in the early morning, and tweets tend to receive the most retweets and favourites in the early evening.

 

Confusing? It may be better to disregard this and think like a customer. What kind of post would they want to see, and when? When are your customers hungry, or thirsty?

 

This means that you might post tweets advertising lunch to whet your customers’ appetites between 10.30 and 11.00 a.m., when people are likely getting hungry -- the aim is to get them thinking about your cafe’s food.

 

Similarly, you may want to consider timing tweets about coffee to fit with your morning and afternoon rushes.

 

But just because Twitter’s always online, that doesn’t mean you have to be. You can use apps like Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule tweets and manage your Twitter feed, as well as to gain even more insight into how your tweets are performing.

 

Twitter might be the trickiest social media platform to get right, but it’s one that can be very rewarding: some brands have Twitter feeds that punch far above their weight and become well-known in their own right.

 

These accounts don’t sound like brands -- rather, they create their own voices and personas through the platform.

 

Take Innocent as an example: rather than using Twitter to market their product directly, they cultivate a brand that’s become known for its charm and its whimsy, and which makes customers think fondly of their particular type of fancy fruit juice.

 

Hubspot have trawled the Internet for the best brand accounts, and explained just what makes them tick in this article.

3

Instagram

There’s nearly 15 million posts on Instagram tagged #coffeeshop.

 

And over 31 million tagged #cafe.

 

Maybe your coffee’s on there already. Really, you’d hope so -- you’ve spent enough time perfecting your latte art and making sure your cafe is the just right balance of shabby and chic. One of the 800 million people who use the image-based social network each month should want to take a snap of your coffee. So, why not do it yourself?

 

There are several reasons to get onboard:

 

Instagram’s audience is a young one, composed largely of digital natives: 90% of its user-base is under 35, and they are super-engaged. Instagram users spend more time on the network than any other form of social media. They use Instagram not just as a way of communicating but of curating a lifestyle -- one that you and your cafe can be part of.

 

Images on Instagram get around -- they travel far, and they travel fast, and making good use of popular hashtags can get your brand seen the world over.

 

Images with even a single hashtag are, on average, get 12.6% more engagements than those without. And although the service allows you to tag your image with up to 30 hashtags, research indicates that the optimum number of hashtags for a single post is 11. And Oberlo has compiled a list of the top 100 hashtags for likes.

 

So, you need to think carefully not just about your image, but how you tag it.

 

So if you’re ‘gramming a photo of a sandwich, you might want to think about using tags like #food (250 million images) or #yum (100 million images) or #lunch (50 million images).

 

 

But as well as thinking about hashtags that appear on tens if not hundreds of millions of images, it’s also important to think smaller.

 

People tend to look local. So, while there may only be 250,000 images with the #miltonkeynes hashtag, you can bet your bottom dollar everyone searching for it is going to be from Milton Keynes -- unlike #coffee, which is pretty popular the world over.

 

And if your cafe has a Facebook business page, you can also geotag images, which lets the world know just where that delectable coffee was made, and makes it more likely you’ll be found by nearby customers.

 

One of the great things about using Instagram as a marketing tool is the way that it acts like word of mouth on steroids, amplifying your content and your product.

 

Using Instagram to market your business is ideal, because customers are 90% more likely to buy from brands recommended by friends.

 

Instagram is a gold-mine because it allows you to sell brands, not products. Rather than just being another way of selling coffees, Instagram allows you to sell a lifestyle where your coffee is front and centre. It allows you to bring your product to life and build a narrative around it.

 

There are a plethora of features that allow you to do just this.

 

As well as uploading a single-image post, Instagram lets you upload up to ten images or videos in a single post as a gallery.

 

These are a great way to tie together images with similar content, whether it’s advertising a new range of products, showing off a unique location, or marketing an event.

 

Then, there’s Instagram Stories. A Story is effectively a ten-second snippet of video or a picture that displays for ten seconds. This content automatically deletes after 24 hours.

 

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They are displayed in a different feed to normal Instagram pictures, up at the top of the mobile app, or in a sidebar on the Instagram website, and act like an “in the moment” social media channel.

 

Adding a photo or video to your Story is simple. Simply take a picture or video on Instagram’s camera -- which can be accessed by swiping left from the main feed on the mobile app.

 

With their ad-hoc, intimate feel, Stories also let you give your followers glimpses behind the scenes in a way that normal Instagram photos do not.

 

If you have an Instagram business account, you can access a dashboard with powerful insights on your posts and your followers. This is called Instagram Insights. You can use these to help you plan future content campaigns and measure how far you have progressed towards your goals.

 

Getting started with social media can feel daunting, but it’s something that you can really benefit from. It’s worth taking the time to think about what strategy you want to take and what will be good for your cafe.