According to research, around 60% of new restaurants fail within their first year.

Yeah… Happy New Year to you, too, eh?

There’s a reason we’ve started this year with that rather frightening statistic – because it should be enough to make us all sit up, clear the decks and plan for a barnstorming 2017.

The reason is simple. We now live in an age with numerous opportunities for small businesses to market themselves, attract more customers than ever before and create a brand that will live long in the memory of anyone who happens to come into contact with it.

Your restaurant is no different. If you’ve got a laptop and an internet connection, you have all the tools you need to start making waves this year. You can fight against the big chains and make a real name for yourself, all with the power of digital marketing.

So, let’s ensure you’re not within that 60% and look at some awesome digital marketing ideas for 2017.

1. Drag your social media accounts out of the quagmire

Come on, admit it – when was the last time you posted something meaningful or strategic on your Facebook page? Was the last tweet you sent out nothing more than a ‘Merry Christmas’?

Poor show.

It’s time to reignite your social media profile. And, while platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are rapidly becoming pay-to-play arenas, you can still do an awful lot without dipping into the bank account.

Use social media in as many creative ways as possible, and post as often as you can. Record short videos of the work underway in the kitchen, take photos of test dishes and promote the living hell out of coupons and special offers.

A social media account ain’t just for Christmas. Give it a new lease of life!

2. Get in with the influencers

As bonkers as it may seem to anyone but the youngest within our society, ‘YouTubers’ are now the go-to outlet for big brands when they want to advertise a new product or service.

Unboxing videos and product reviews undertaken in bedroom studios are driving commerce and have subsequently given rise to what is commonly known as the ‘influencer’.

Simply put, an influencer is someone who has some form of video channel or blog, through which they post regular content featuring products and services they’re asked to promote. They make their money from advertising on sites like YouTube, whereas the companies behind the products benefit from mass exposure.

In short, everyone’s a winner.

As a small restaurant business, you can do the same by searching for influencers within your geographic area or niche. Tools such as Epicbeat enable you to hunt down such people and connect with them via social media platforms like Twitter.

Contact as many as you can and offer them an incentive for reviewing your restaurant. A free meal usually works wonders, and could open doors to a huge audience for your business.

Influencers are powerful allies.

3. Use Medium to tell the story of your business

As important as a blog on your restaurant website is, you could do a lot worse than turn to the brilliant Medium to tell the story of your business.

Medium is fast becoming a key outlet for marketers and businesses, as it features a ready-made audience and fantastic publishing platform.

Sign-up (it’s free) and set aside an hour or two each week to write about the restaurant. How it came to be, what you have planned and a recount of the most interesting interaction you had with a diner yesterday are examples of topics that will give your business real personality – something that is vital in the digital age.

Go get ‘em!

The three tips in this post are just the tip of the iceberg, but with what is undoubtedly limited time on your behalf, they represent the most effective ways to build a noticeable, approachable and, ultimately, profitable restaurant business in 2017 and beyond.

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