Social Media Marketing for Restaurants: 21 Tips


Do you own, or do marketing for, a restaurant? Do you want to know how to use social media to market your restaurant?

It’s a common problem – restaurants want to be engaging with their clientele; they want to use social tools to get more patrons walking through their doors – but they just don’t know how.

Adding social media to your marketing mix can hugely increase awareness about your restaurant, generate motivated engagement with your food, and get you more customers in your door.

Here are 21 tactics and tips for using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to drive more customers to your restaurant.

Social Media Marketing for Restaurants #1: Think Like Your Customer

Ok, if you’ve been promoting your restaurant for a while, this should be pretty obvious. One of the first steps in successful marketing is to know who you’re communicating with. This is particularly true in social media. Think like your customer, and about why they would want to visit you. Create a tone for your social media based on this.

If you want your place to be known as the neighbourhood hangout – create a tone (or even character) that you’ll consistently use across all of your social media platforms. Post in a friendly, neighbourly tone. You could, for example, have a long-term waitress or barman be the face of your social media.

If you want to be known for your great food – create your social media postings around your chef (or someone posing as your chef!).

Think about your customer as you plan out your restaurant social media strategy.

Social Media Marketing for Restaurants #2: Facebook Marketing

Facebook provides an incredible opportunity for dining establishments to connect with their clientele. You’d be hard pressed to find a patron of yours who is not on this site – and most of them are checking their updates a few times a day.

Facebook is a place where people go to ‘hangout’ with friends. That’s why they go out to eat too, right? Here are seven tips to use Facebook in your marketing:

1. Cover image – Make sure you take full advantage of your cover image. You have 851×351 pixels to market your business for free. Include delicious photos of your food, or people having a good time enjoying a meal with friends. You could change your cover image whenever you have a menu change, and market the new items or specials.

Include a brief description of your tasty morsels, as in the example below, from Bahama Breeze Island Grille


2. Facebook Page Tabs – Use tabs on your Facebook Page to entice people to visit your eatery. The first four tabs in particular are key – these are the tabs that show up on your front page (without clicking to open them all). You can see how effectively Bahama Breeze Island Grille uses these. Their first four tabs are: photos of food; locations; food deals; and featured menu items.


They are thinking like their customer, and giving them the images and information a patron would want.

3. Use lots of photos of your food – The most shared posts on Facebook are images. You’re in the business of food, and food is extremely visual. Be sure to include lots of images of your food in your regular Facebook updates. _You could even create a lookbook of your current menu items. _

Here’s an example of some tasty-looking tuna tataki from Milestones:


4. Exclusive offers and group deals – Post exclusive offers on your Facebook Page. Give deals to patrons if they “like” your Page. Give social coupon promotions to entice your Fans to share your deal with their friends – and get those friends to become Fans of your Page too.

5. Contests and sweepstakes – Use social sweepstakes and contests on your Facebook Page. These social promotions add excitement, and a great reason to get your customers coming back to both your Facebook Page, and your restaurant.

Here’s an example from a client using our sweepstakes app. Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto ran a geo-targeted sweepstakes through Facebook to successfully generate awareness of their newly renovated digs, and their brand new menu.


6. Geo target your ads  – Facebook ads let you do all kinds of very specific, niche targeting. For restaurants and diners, this is ideal. You can target your ads to be seen only by people in your particular geographic location. You can also target your ads to be seen by those with specific likes, and by those who like certain pages.

In the Wayne Gretzky example, above, this could be used to target the downtown Toronto area; to people who like hockey, sports and dining out; and who like the Toronto Blue Jays Page (ok, and maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs too).

Note: You can also geo tag your posts. If you have a chain of restaurants, for example, use this feature to show images or updates from your various locations.


7. Embed videos – Videos are very cool when embedded directly into an update, or in a tab. If you have videos about how your food is made, or you have an interview with your chef/ food suppliers/ happy customers – include them in an update.

Learn more tips about Facebook marketing:

Social Media Marketing for Restaurants #3: Instagram Marketing

Instagram is a hugely popular photo sharing platform. With its seamless integration with Facebook, it’s used about 95% of the time when your patrons are posting images to their Facebook friends. You can use Instagram in conjunction with your Facebook tactics, or you can use the site on its own. Here are seven tips for Instagram marketing, on its own:

Use hashtags: Hashtags are huge on Instagram. They’re very prevalent and relevant. Let’s outline three main tactics to employ when using hashtags on Instagram (or any social site).

1. Use trending hashtags – To increase awareness about both your Instagram profile and your restaurant, include relevant trending hashtags. For example, if it happens to be #nationalcheesecakeday , and your culinary delights include cheesecake, post a scrumptious photo of that dish.


2. Use niche hashtags – Get found more easily by your niche market by using specific hashtags. For example, if you’re a bakery in New York, and are located in Soho, use geographic specific tags, like #sohoeats. Instagram is a mobile social site – you use it on your phone. Including a specific location in your tags can get you found by foot traffic looking to eat – and they may be just outside your door.


3. Use campaign specific hashtags – When you’re running a particular marketing campaign (such as a contest, create a tag just for that promotion. This lets your followers – and anyone else – engage with your campaign by using your hashtag in their posts, too.

4. Photos of menu items – Instagram is a site of photos. Use this opportunity to post delicious photos of your menu items.

5. Engage with menu items – Take photos of you menu one step further – get your customers to upload their favourite items, to help build your menu of images on the platform.

This type of user generated content not only gets your customers involved with you socially, it creates a stronger bond and customer loyalty. Appreciate your patrons enough to invite them to be a part of your menu decision making process. They will want to eat at your place – and bring their friends to show off their winning contributions!

This is what Catch 122 did, using #Catch122Menu as a common tag.


It’s kind of an amazing way to get your customers talking about and showing your amazing food to their friends on the site too. That’s word of mouth marketing gone viral!

6. Employee Appreciation – Take a photo of your staff working with your product or menu items. It could be a chef, a waitress, or even a busboy. Post them to your company Instagram feed, with a short description.

You can use these types of photos to show that you’re an establishment that values the people that work for you. At the same time, you’ll likely create a cool working environment for your staff too! It also shows that your restaurant is a fun place to be and has great customer service.


7. Photo Contests – If you want to gain a lot of user generated content (UGC), set up a photo contest– on Instagram. A photo contest can motivate your customers to engage with you, your menu items, and your restaurant. They can generate a lot of customer loyalty, as someone who takes a photo and submits it in your contest will care if they win or not. They will likely think about that photo, your menu item and your restaurant for at least a little bit of time.

Here’s an example of how a local gourmet cafe used a photo contest and a $15 gift card to get UGC from their dedicated customers:


Whatever is the activity you are about to plan, you should always consider how to get more followers on Instagram.

Read more about Instagram Marketing:

Social Media Marketing for Restaurants #4: Twitter Marketing

Twitter is a very successful marketing tool for restaurants, both large and small and from high end to fast food (including street trucks). With only 140 characters per update, tweets get read, and shared at a phenomenal, immediate rate. Twitter is also used a lot through mobile.

How can you best promote your culinary delights on this site? Here are seven tips for your restaurant Twitter marketing.

1. Include a link to your menu – Include links in your tweets. This gives your followers further action to take, and lets them interact with your more. Include a link to your menu, so your Followers can make an easy choice of dining with you.

Tip: This is especially great if you deliver!

Here’s an example from Domino’s Pizza:


2. Include images of your food – Although Twitter is a text based site, updates with photos in them get shared, can get you more followers on Twitter, and can drive traffic into your establishment. Here’s an example of a scrumptious and delicious looking image from La Dolce Vita:


3. Social Coupons – Promoting your establishment through coupons and discounts has long been a part of successful marketing. Add in a social element, and make it a social coupon– and you could have a viral campaign on your hands. You could, for example, run a group offer for a free appetizer. This will encourage your patrons to share your group offer tweet to their friends – and it will drive people into your eatery.

4. Hashtags – Hashtags are very popular on Twitter too. Include them in your updates. Use similar tactics to the ones mentioned above with Intstagram. Tip: You don’t want too many (given the character constraints on this platform – and you want to leave room in your tweets to get RT’s and shares with @mentions – so a friend can send your tweet to a friend).

5. Time your tweets – Send out tweets close to breakfast, lunch and dinner hours. Unlike Facebook, your tweets will show up in Followers’ feeds immediately as you send them. Invite your followers to join you for your special deal for Twitter followers. And use hashtags for the meal times, like #lunch or #dinner. It makes it even easier to find you on a Twitter search. Remember: think like your customer!

6. Use Promoted tweets – Choose your best tweets, and pay to promote them to a targeted audience. This is particularly effective for your timed updates being sent out around meal times. Check out how Merridees cleverly uses this tactic to promote their daily lunch specials.


7. Geo-target your ads – The only problem with the Merridees  tweet, above, is that they are located in Tennessee, and I am not. It is incredibly important to geo-target your ads on Twitter. If your place of dining is located in Seattle – make sure you check off the geo-targeting location of Seattle when you are paying for your promoted tweets.

Getting your message to the right patrons in the right location is particularly true for your mobile users. You might just reach your customers as they are walking by your door!

Read more about Twitter Marketing:


I hope you’ve learned a little bit more on how to use these social media platforms to market to your restaurant patrons. There are many more tactics you can use, such as trying out Snapchat or Yelp, or creatively marketing with YouTube videos.

What do you think? Have you used any of these methods? Have they worked? Did you get more customers dining with you? What other tips can you suggest?

And if you are wondering about how you can run a contest on social media, Wishpond’s Facebook Contest Apps make it easy to create sweepstakes, photo contests, Instagram hashtag contests & more.

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