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Restaurant Social Media Marketing: Ultimate Guide


In this article, we’re going to touch on the key points and share simple and effective ways to improve your social media game. We will:

  • Explore the fundamentals of restaurant social media marketing, including a strategy and target audience. 
  • Help you choose the right social media platforms for your restaurant.
  • Show you how to set your social media goals effectively.
  • Set you up with a calendar for your social media activities
  • Give you 11 pillars of successful social media marketing and share real-world examples of some of our favorite restaurant social media profiles and posts. 

We don’t want you to spend every day wondering how to manage your social media presence. Let’s set you up with the right set of social media tools once and for all.

You Need a Restaurant Social Media Strategy

You’ve probably seen a number of different guides on how to conduct effective social media for restaurants. They offer magical numbers, like posting 3-4 times a week at this or that time of the day using this or that emoji. Sorry to say this, but it’s all worthless unless you have social media strategies for restaurants in place. No amount of cool trends will win you as many customers as a restaurant’s social media strategy.

A social media strategy helps you:
  • Understand your audience
  • Set realistic and calculated goals
  • Conduct campaigns in line with your goals and budget
  • Effectively use social media analytics
  • Evaluate your competitors and beat them
  • Adjust your content and evolve

Why Social Media Marketing Is Crucial?

Words alone are cheap, so let’s get over some key statistics. A TouchBistro report shows that 68% of customers tried have tried a restaurant based entirely on positive online reviews, and 41% did so based entirely on positive social media feedback. In other words, if you’re not doing social media right, you might be missing out on about half of your potential customers. And that is not good.

Understand Your Target Audience and Improve Social Media Presence

 restaurant social media marketing - restaurant analytics example Understanding your audience is the first step you need to take before conducting any social media campaigns. This step is absolutely critical and will determine almost all of the content you create.
How to determine your target audience
  • Analyze your current customers: Observe who regularly visits your restaurant. Pay attention to their age, gender, occupation, and other observable characteristics.
  • Understand their preferences: Are they active on Instagram, or do they prefer Facebook? What types of posts do they engage with the most – pictures of dishes, behind-the-scenes videos, or special promotion announcements?
  • Use social media analytics: Use social media insights about followers’ age, gender, location, and the times they are most active.
  • Consider your offerings: Your menu and services can provide clues about your audience. For example, a vegan restaurant is likely to attract environment-savvy or health-conscious individuals
  • Research your competitors: Look at the social media profiles of your competitors and see who is following them and who is engaging with their posts.
  • Use online tools: Gather data using restaurant analytics tools.
  • Refine your audience over time: People’s behaviors and preferences change over time, and new competition may alter your customer base. Regularly revisit your audience assumptions and adjust as necessary.

Know Your Social Media Users: Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms

Once you’ve managed to grasp who you’re dealing with, it’s time to choose the right social media platforms. This step is extremely straightforward but, at the same time, absolutely key to reaching your audience more effectively. Follow the steps below to choose the right social platforms.

Understand Each Platform’s Demographics

Each social media platform has its own user demographics. For instance, younger users tend to gravitate towards Instagram and TikTok, while an older demographic might be more active on Facebook. We discuss demographics in more detail below.

Evaluate Your Content Type

Consider the type of content you plan to create, as different social media platforms are used for different needs. Instagram and TikTok are great for sharing photos and reels of your delicious foods. If you want to share updates and engage in conversations, Twitter might just be what you’re looking for.

Best social media platforms for restaurants
  • Instagram: Instagram is a must-have. It tends to skew toward a younger demographic, with a large percentage of users falling within the 18-34 age range. Users are nearly evenly split between men and women. This platform is great for sharing visual content, such as high-quality images and short videos of your food, staff, or behind-the-scenes looks at your restaurant.
  • TikTok: TikTok has rapidly grown in popularity, especially among younger audiences. The majority of its users are under 30. This platform is perfect for short, engaging videos – anything from showcasing menu items, sharing cooking tips, or highlighting the ambiance and dining experience.
  • Facebook: Facebook has a broad demographic reach, with a significant number of users across all age groups, although it tends to be most popular among adults aged 25 to 34. It’s a versatile platform that allows for sharing a variety of content, from posts and photos to events and longer videos. Importantly, Facebook is also a popular review and recommendation platform. Facebook for restaurants – learn how to best manage it.
  • Twitter: Twitter encourages conversation and engagement and can be used for quick updates, sharing news, or engaging with customers.

Check Your Competitors

Look at what platforms your competitors are using and how they’re using them. This can give you insight into what platforms might work well for your restaurant, but remember to tailor your strategy to your unique business and not just copy your competitors.

Test and Evaluate

After choosing the platforms you think will work best, monitor and evaluate your results. Use the platform’s analytics tools to see if you’re reaching your restaurant target audience and achieving your goals. Don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy or try a new platform based on your findings.

Consider Your Resources

Social media management for restaurants requires time and resources. If you have a small team, it might be better to focus on one or two platforms and do them well rather than stretching yourself thin across multiple platforms. You must also remember that social media is just a part of the big picture. Make sure you have other restaurant marketing tools in place and prioritize accordingly.

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Restaurant Marketing Strategy: Setting SMART Goals

restaurant social media marketing - SMART goals example

Now that you understand your target audience and know which social media platforms to use, it’s time to start setting goals. One of the most popular ways of goal-setting is by using the SMART goal system. 

This might be increasing the number of followers on your social media pages, driving more traffic to your website, boosting customer engagement, or generating more sales through online orders. Make sure your goals align with your overall business objectives and are measurable so you can track your progress.

How to set SMART goals? A SMART goal example.
  • Specific: Increase our Instagram followers.
  • Measurable: Gain 600 new followers on our Instagram account.
  • Achievable: Our current growth rate is about 200 followers per month, so by investing more in high-quality content and regular posts and by interacting with our audience, we believe we can increase that growth to 300 followers per month.
  • Relevant: Increasing our Instagram following will boost our brand awareness and reach, ultimately leading to more customers and higher sales.
  • Time-bound: Achieve this goal within the next two months.

So, in this case, your SMART goal would be: “Increase our Instagram followers by 600 in the next two months.”

Remember, your SMART goals should be revisited and revised based on your performance and changes in your business objectives or social media strategy. It’s also important to set multiple SMART goals for different aspects of your marketing strategy.

Set Up a Social Media Calendar to Keep Track of Your Publications

To build an effective social media calendar, you need to ensure it effectively supports your strategy. It’s probably best to build it directly within your social media management tool, such as Hubspot or Hootsuite. That way, you can set publication dates so that the whole thing is automated from the get-go. We discuss various software automation tools a bit further below.

restaurant social media marketing - content calendar example

Content Variety and Consistency

Your calendar should include a variety of content types (such as images, restaurant video, user-generated content, social media contests, promotional posts, etc.) to keep your audience interested and engaged.

We’d recommend you post content regularly to keep your audience engaged and maintain visibility in social media feeds. The frequency will depend on the platform and your resources, but consistency is key.

Platform-Specific Plan and Prime Posting Times

Different platforms require different types of content and post frequencies. Make sure your calendar accounts for the specific requirements and best practices of each platform. 

Each platform has specific times during the day when users are most active. You might want to aim to post content during these times to maximize visibility and engagement.

Time-Sensitive Posts

Your calendar should account for time-sensitive content. This could be holiday-themed posts, posts related to special events or promotions at your restaurant, or posts tied to external events like sports games or local festivals. We’d also recommend giving your special offers a boost using restaurant email marketing.

Engagement Time and Adaptability

Factor in time to engage with your followers (responding to comments, messages, reviews, etc.).This helps build a relationship with your audience. While planning is important, your calendar should also have the flexibility to accommodate spontaneous content, such as a trending topic or a last-minute promotion. 

Also, remember not to get overly fixated on following your calendar. It is key to remain consistent, however, if you’re excited about sharing your new dish, feel free to share a story whenever. It should be as natural and fun an experience as possible for you and your audience.

Measurement and Adjustment

Your calendar is not set in stone. Regularly review your social media analytics to see which posts are performing well and why. Adjust your calendar based on these insights.

Remember, a well-planned social media calendar can help you stay organized, post consistently, and effectively engage with your audience, all of which can contribute to a successful social media strategy.

Redirect Content to Your Restaurant Website

Don’t get me wrong; a well-managed social media presence is a massive game changer all by itself. However, if you’re looking to maximize the benefits of your online marketing, you might want to consider using your social media not only to remind your users of your restaurant but also to redirect them directly to your website, where they can order food through your food ordering system.

Top social media marketing tools
  • Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a comprehensive social media management tool that allows you to schedule posts across multiple social media platforms. It also offers analytics to help you measure the success of your posts.
  • Buffer: Buffer is another popular option for scheduling social media posts. It’s easy to use and offers detailed analytics. One unique feature of Buffer is the ability to schedule content while browsing the web with their Chrome extension.
  • Sprout Social: Sprout Social is an all-in-one social media management platform that provides post scheduling, engagement tools, and powerful analytics. It also offers features to help manage customer relationships and optimize your social media efforts.
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How Restaurants Promote Social Media: Examples

The restaurant business is super competitive. When you’ve got thousands of social media accounts to compete with, a good ol’ Facebook page alone isn’t going to cut it. To make your restaurant’s social media strategy as effective as possible, you’re going to need to keep your finger on the pulse regarding the latest social media trends.

But don’t worry. We’re going to give you a lot of social media ideas for restaurants that other local businesses in your area don’t have.

Developing a Consistent and Cohesive Brand Voice and Image

Consistent brand voice and image are both important to keep yourself as recognizable as possible. You want people to know whose page they’re on when they visit your other social media channels. Check out the below example of a restaurant’s social media profiles on Instagram and TikTok.

restaurant social media marketing - brand-image example instagram

restaurant social media marketing - brand image example tiktok

Showcasing Your Menu and Specialties

Below is another great example of a well-managed social media page. An Instagram post of mouth-watering images of your food is almost always a safe bet. Remind your followers what delicious foods you offer and invite them to join you with an enticing description.

 restaurant social media marketing - showcasing menu goals example

restaurant social media marketing - showcasing specialties example

Sharing Behind-the-scenes Stories

One of the coolest, most down-to-earth, and customer-aware Instagram restaurant profiles out there. These guys clearly know their audience and are not taking any prisoners. They understand who they are catering to and are all in on it.

It’s American BBQ for Americans who love bacon, cowboy hats, and the USA. You won’t see any vegan and environment-friendly posts on this page for a good reason!

restaurant social media marketing - behind the scenes example

Promoting Deals and Special Offers

Use your social media reach to promote special offers, events, and, frankly, anything that is going on at your restaurant. Use reels, TikToks, and stories to spread the word about your latest event or promotion.

restaurant social media marketing - special deals example

Importance of Visual Content in the Food Industry

Sometimes you just got to post a picture of your delicious food to make your followers’ bellies churn! Posting food pics is also a good way to fill your content calendar without brainstorming and coming up with any creative restaurant social media ideas.

 restaurant social media marketing - visual content example

Encouraging Check-ins, Reviews, and Photos from Customers

Consider offering special discounts or other rewards to customers who checked in or tagged you in their posts or left you good reviews, especially at the start. This can help you build a bigger audience in no time. Take a moment or two to comment on good and bad reviews, and make sure to be nice!

restaurant social media marketing - encouraging check-ins example

Featuring User-Generated Content on Your Pages

Share your customers’ posts on your profile and in your stories. This will not only encourage them to tag you in the future, but it’ll also show all of your followers that they might be featured in your post if they tag you as well.

restaurant social media marketing - user-generated content example

Building a Community Around Your Restaurant

Build a community of people who will simply enjoy engaging with your profile. By making them like your profile, you’re also making them like your restaurant better. So, consider making your restaurant’s social media profiles fun.

restaurant social media marketing - building a community example

Share Instagram Stories and Reels Featuring Your Food

Food, food, food. There really is never enough content when it comes to mouth-watering photos of your food. Share your stories and reels on a regular basis. The more users see them, the better. The cool thing is that nowadays, you can just post your Story on your Instagram and automatically share it on Facebook. You can also use the same reels on your TikTok account. Just make sure to juice it up with some cool TikTok sounds and effects.

restaurant social media marketing - stories and reels example

Host Social Media Contests (On All Social Media Sites)

Get social media algorithms on your side by hosting social media contests with relevant hashtags and encouraging your audience to share your posts. Regular social media contests are one of the best ways to reach a wider audience and expand your reach.

 restaurant social media marketing - social media contests goals example

Use Relevant Hashtags and Tags to Reach More Potential Customers

Research relevant and trending hashtags to reach more people on all of your restaurant’s social media accounts. You might want to research relevant food hashtags when preparing your social media marketing strategy so that you have them ready and can copy them whenever you post.

 restaurant social media marketing - relevant hashtags example
Still feel like you could use a few more restaurant social media post ideas?

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding your target audience is essential to creating high-quality social media content. If possible, consider checking in with your restaurant marketing plan to make sure your strategy is in line with your overarching goals.
  • The three main social media platforms for restaurants are Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. That said, if only 5% of your target audience uses TikTok, you’re going to have to ask yourself whether it’s worth your time and effort to post there.
  • Brand guidelines that include voice and image are important if you want to remain recognizable on each social media channel.
  • Incorporating SMART goals will help you set realistic goals that you can measure.
  • Setting up a calendar for your restaurant’s social media channels will make it easier for you to keep all of your actions in check. 
  • Using dedicated social media automation tools like Hootsuite or SproutSocial will help you keep your social media presence consistent.
  • Consider redirecting your social media users to your website so that they can order food directly from you through your food delivery system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

There are really only a couple of ways in which social media is used for food marketing that make sense. If you limit yourself to these eight key uses, you’re good to go:

  1. Building brand awareness.
  2. Showcasing food and recipes.
  3. Collaborating with influencers.
  4. Engaging with customers.
  5. Leveraging user-generated content.
  6. Running promotions and contests.
  7. Influencing purchasing decisions.
  8. Providing updates and special offers.

Instagram and Pinterest are popular platforms for sharing food content due to their visual nature. YouTube is ideal for video-based food content, while Facebook and TikTok offer versatile options for engaging with a broader audience.

  • Compelling Food Photography: Capture appetizing images of your food to grab attention and share them widely.
  • Social Media Marketing: Promote your food business on social media platforms.
  • Influencer Partnerships: Collaborate with popular influencers to reach their followers.
  • Online Advertising: Utilize digital ads to target specific audiences and drive traffic.
  • Content Marketing: Create valuable content, such as recipes or cooking tips, to engage your audience.
  • Email Marketing: Send personalized newsletters with special offers to build customer loyalty.
  • Local Partnerships: Collaborate with other businesses or events to expand your reach locally.
  • Offline Marketing: Use traditional methods like print ads or sponsorships to reach a broader audience.
Emil Gawkowski

Emil Gawkowski

Creative digital writer and marketer. A caffeine-fueled madman who loves to make things better.

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