At Cravelabs we’re continually keeping tabs on social media trends in local businesses, as we conducted our latest survey in Boston, we’ve found that Facebook appears to be more consistently used and provide higher value to both the business and their customers. Since we thought this was an interesting view from inside – we wanted to share some of the numbers just looking at the 127 restaurants surveyed in Back Bay.

When I first began researching the social media activity of Back Bay restaurants I used only the Facebook search engine, and over 50% of the restaurant pages did not show up. However, even with all of the technical difficulties, I was able to collect enough data to learn that at least 68% of Back Bay restaurants use social media through Facebook and Twitter. Taking advantage of Facebook Timeline, many businesses have used this opportunity to use a little creativity with their cover photos to help connect with their clients and build relationships.

The majority of restaurants’ Facebook pages have less than 1,000 likes and update their pages less than once a week- correlation? Quite possibly! Twitter use is even more infrequent, respectively, with users tweeting less than once a week.  Keep in mind that the average lifetime of a Facebook post is three hours, whereas a tweet only lasts about fifteen minutes to an hour. This is bad news for restaurants because Twitter, unlike Facebook, requires even more consistent and constant maintenance; a minimum daily tweet is expected. If businesses don’t tweet consistently they quickly fall off the radar.

Understanding the numbers of interactions on restaurant pages shows me that Back Bay restaurants are aware of social media, but they are unsure of how often they need to use it. They may create a Twitter or Facebook account, but fail to update it, resulting in low numbers of likes and followers.

Twitter:

Restaurants may have trouble with the infrequency of their tweets, but their Twitter history shows that they do know how to use some of the different modes of communicating through re-tweets, replies and photo sharing. Demonstrating good customer service, some restaurants are avid repliers to clients’ comments about quality of food or service. Other restaurants simply re-tweet every time someone mentions them, instilling a less sincere sense of customer service.

Facebook:

One of the most aesthetically pleasing share options on Facebook is the photo post. Restaurants are lucky because they can combine their professional food photography with mobile uploads from the staff and customers. Now that Instagram is paired with Facebook, customers are even more inclined to upload pictures of food and friends at the restaurant, helping boost the restaurant’s awareness and popularity.

Based on our research, Facebook connects with four times more users than Twitter. Connecting with businesses through Facebook provides customers with a more personal relationship. The only caveat is that they may not be able to find it! Since Facebook’s search engine is poorly designed for businesses, many potential customers are forced to use Google to find the business page, search for the Facebook or Twitter link, and hope that it connects them to the page.

Facilitating the flow of information will raise awareness of a given restaurant through increased visibility. Once restaurants become more consistent with their social media use they will attract more followers, further boosting their potential client-base.