How to Turn Loyal Customers into Brand Advocates

As a restaurant owner, you probably turn to a variety of marketing channels to attract new customers. But sometimes, customer acquisition can be as simple as encouraging your loyal customers to become brand advocates. Whether through social media or word-of-mouth, consumers appreciate recommendations from friends and family when choosing a restaurant.

While loyal diners return to your restaurant time and time again, it might take an extra push to for these customers to share their positive experience. Here are three ways you can take the relationship to the next level and turn customers into brand advocates.

Set up a digital loyalty program
Gone are the days when diners dig through their wallets for customer loyalty cards. Encourage customers to easily rack up loyalty points with a digital loyalty program that is easily accessible on their smartphones. Through the program, reward loyal customers by offering a discount or free meal each time they reach a certain number of visits or dollars spent. Rewards also don’t have to depend on how often customers frequent your restaurant – consider a free item on the customer’s birthday or during the holidays. These personalized rewards will make customers excited to advocate for your restaurant and recommend the loyalty program to family and friends.  

Offer incentives for recommendations
Customers are more likely to tell friends and family about your restaurant if there’s an incentive for the recommendation. For those ordering takeout or delivery online, provide a referral code they can share with others. New customers can receive a discount using the referral code, and the customer who recommended your restaurant can receive a reward the next time they dine with you. Take a similar approach for online reviews – if a customer shows his or her online review or a positive social media mention with your staff, offer a discount or free menu item. This sign of appreciation will create brand loyalty and encourage continued advocacy for your restaurant.  

Host social media contests
On Twitter, encourage customers to retweet or favorite one of your restaurant’s tweets for a chance to win a free meal. Take it a step further and ask customers to share something positive about your restaurant using a designated hashtag. Facebook and Instagram offer the opportunity for a photo contest – ask customers to upload photos of their meals and narrow down the top shots for other followers to vote on. Everyone loves a good competition. An added benefit of social media contests is they don’t require much time or effort on either end.


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