Facebook isn’t just a social networking site; it’s a great place to help local businesses find new customers. Yes, Facebook takes a bit of work—you can’t just create a page and expect it to bring in customers, you have to put in some effort too—but it can help you build relationships with your customers and encourage followers (and their friends) to come in for a meal.

Here are six ways using Facebook for restaurants can help your business:

It provides a space to post information.

Facebook business pages have places to post the addresses of physical locations, a link to your website, hours of operation and other important information such as your menus. You can even give out special offers for your Facebook fans (and if you pay, to an even larger audience). If you have a Facebook page, you have an easy way to provide customers with all the important information about your restaurant in one spot.

It allows you to build followers.

When people like your business on Facebook, they automatically see when you post updates to your page. So you don’t have to remember everyone’s email address or create lists of people to reach out to when you want to announce your daily special. Facebook automatically reaches out to your followers and lets them know you’ve posted it.

It allows you to interact with customers.

“Likes” are nice, but actual customers are better. Facebook lets you interact with your customers through your page and through status updates. So when you post that your pasta of the day is linguine, you can ask customers which pasta is their favorite. Or you can ask them to post photos of your linguine when they come into the restaurant. By encouraging them to respond, you’re developing relationships, which can often translate into more business.

Even better, when someone posts on your page that they came in and loved the linguine, you can thank them and invite them to come back. It’s a great way to make your customers feel valued. And, every time someone posts on your page, their friends will see that they’ve done so and may be encouraged to visit your page, follow you and swing by your restaurant.

It helps build relationships.

When you interact with your customers, they get to see a different side of your business than they do as customers. They get to know your thoughts, your ideas and your sense of humor (if that’s what you share on Facebook). You’re no longer just a restaurant down the road, you’re someone they know, and if they know you they’re more likely to come in.

It reminds customers about you.

We hate to be forgotten but sometimes it happens. Customers come into a restaurant, love our food and then forget to come back. Or they hear about you and mean to come in, but never do. By getting updates about your posts on Facebook, customers are constantly reminded about you. And if you post great content that reflects your brand, your target audience is likely to be engaged and eager to come see you in person.

It allows you to entice customers.

Two words: food photos. There’s nothing better than a well-lit photo of an appetizing dish. Take some great shots of your dishes, or try sourcing images from your customers on social media (don’t forget to give them credit too!).

Now that you know how Facebook can help your restaurant, go set up a Facebook page, make sure you post all the important details about your business and start posting enticing photos to bring in more customers.

Top photo credit: Elena Yakusheva/Shutterstock

Alex is Connectivity’s VP of Marketing.