Hospitality Leadership Through Learning

Social Media Use in the Restaurant Industry: A Work in Progress


Vol 13 No 7
By: Abigail Needles and Gary M. Thompson Ph.D.


Executive Summary:

A survey of 166 restaurant managers reveals a mixed picture in their use of social media and its impact on operations. Although many restaurants are using social media, the study found that many restaurateurs lack well-defined social media goals, both in terms of the purpose of the restaurants’ social media activities and the target of their social media messages. Although the restaurant operators in this convenience sample were generally supportive of the use of social media, well over half were not certain that social media met one or more of three specific goals, namely, increasing customer loyalty, bringing in new customers, and boosting revenues. The respondents generally rely more heavily on non-financial metrics than on actual financial numbers to measure the return on their social media investment, due to the large degree of uncertainty surrounding how to measure the financial returns of social media on operations. On balance, independent restaurants made more use of social media than did chains. The study’s findings suggest that restaurateurs should reevaluate their social media approaches to ensure that they are strategically designed and executed.

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