By Brad Pierce, President Restaurant Equipment World
Having a blog for your restaurant or foodservice is perhaps one of the easiest online marketing techniques, yet many operators miss this important step in their quest to drive customers and traffic to their sites. The most common reason cited by operators I’ve spoken with is that they just don’t feel like they’re tech-savvy enough to handle the task of getting a blog set up. Have no fear, it’s actually quick and easy to get started, which I’ll explain below. Another common reason I hear from operators is that they are already using FaceBook to post updates, so they see no need for their own blog.
While FaceBook is great and a useful online marketing platform, it’s important to remember that with FaceBook content, you’re helping to build their site, not yours. It’s like the difference between renting a house versus buying one. Ultimately, you want to be the one to control your content and hold ownership of your message. This allows you to market your content on whatever platform is the latest and greatest social media site without being locked into just one. The reason for this is you never know when the next social media site will become a hit, much like what happened when FaceBook took over market share from MySpace. Simply stated, the best practice in online blogging is to develop your own content on your own site, then to tell the world about it on sites like Twitter and FaceBook to drive traffic back to your site.
The most common blogging platform is called WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com). This software is 100% open source and will never cost you a dime as it’s built and maintained by hundreds of volunteers. There are literally millions of online sites that use WordPress, so if questions do arise there is a vast pool of resources available to help you quickly. Installation of the WordPress software is fast. So fast, in fact, they call it the “Famous 5-Minute Install.” The stand alone version of WordPress for your own server can be downloaded by visiting http://wordpress.org/download/. If you prefer not to deal with security updates or don’t have your own domain, you can also choose to have WordPress host your blog on its servers. A hosted WordPress installation can be installed by visiting https://en.wordpress.com/signup/, which only takes a few seconds.
Whichever method you choose, you should plan on investing more time to customize your theme (colors, background, images and the like), but even this process is typically quick and straightforward. Additionally, there is a number of optional add-ons which can be installed to handle functions such as automatic spam detection. These don’t need to be added initially but, as your blog comes to life, you may find that daily management of your blog is more easily done by incorporating these types of tools. As a side note, these add-ons are typically open-source and 100% free, as well.
I hope that you’ll spend a few minutes today and invest in your operation by setting up your own blog. In a future entry, I’ll explore the next steps in blogging focusing on content and strategies for building a successful discussion platform. Happy Blogging!