The best restaurant social media campaigns are those that drive the most traffic to your restaurant. Still, social media campaign strategies vary from restaurant to restaurant. The most important thing is communicating the right messages to the right people at the right time and through the proper channels.
This article examines the top social media campaigns for your restaurant in today’s digital world.
1. Post useful content often.
While social media is one of the various platforms to market your restaurant, no social media campaign succeeds without regular content and strong visuals. People won’t visit your page often if you hardly post fresh content. Moreover, all the engagement (likes, comments and shares) you can generate on social media will result from your published content.
Content types vary, but you must use all to maximise exposure and engagement — mix up video, pictures, and catchy text in your restaurant’s social media campaigns. You can consider these social media post ideas for your restaurant. Also, remember to add contact information to all your social media pages whenever possible.
2. Post during busy hours.
You can’t just post anytime you feel like it. Statistics show that different platforms have different optimal times to post, and any campaign for your restaurant will be more likely to generate results during these hours. These are the times just before which you should be online promoting your restaurant. It even gets better if you know when your customers usually go online.
If you’re a restaurateur that surveys its customers sometimes, people can tell you when they typically use social media. This knowledge will help you maximise the reach of your posts regardless of the platform’s busiest hours for the rest of the world.
You can also get this information by asking diners direct questions, or by looking at the demographics/analytics section of your social media accounts and website. Knowing the platform of choice for most regular customers will simplify your job of selecting the right platforms.
If you seek how to share your menu on social media, you should consider digital menus. It’s always an excellent idea to post your digital restaurant menu link during these busy hours so most people will easily be able to see what you have to offer.
3. Post early enough for customers.
For cafes and breakfast restaurants, another important reason you should post with timing is that customers who visit your page to browse breakfast dishes are more likely to do so in the morning than the previous evening. As a result, showing off breakfast dishes during the day or evening won’t resonate with potential visitors.
When most of your guests come for breakfast within a particular time range, broadcasting your breakfast offers about an hour earlier will match the expectations of current viewers and can serve as an incentive for their visit.
4. Lean towards videos more.
Reports prove social media videos (e.g., Instagram reels and TikToks) to be equally or more effective than TV ads — 75% of advertisers agree with this. Meanwhile, while both are motion pictures, the former offers the most flexibility. You can watch them wherever you are via your phone, unlike TV ads that require your presence in front of a television during the broadcast.
Many articles talk about how to promote a restaurant on social media, but hardly will you find one that recommends TV nowadays.
Social media is the best way to share marketing clips. Interesting videos will increase your restaurant’s online exposure due to the “shares, likes, stories, and tags” they can unleash.
Interestingly, social media posts backed by videos receive nearly double the viewership of those that include only images. What’s more, a mouthwatering 85% of customers want more videos from your restaurant.
Types and quality of videos to share.
Make sure your videos are meaningful to both existing and potential customers. You can make videos about your special dishes, staff-to-management interactions (such as Q&As), outside-of-work employee life (such as new babies), behind-the-scenes activities (like the cooking processes), and so on.
You don’t have to hire anyone for these videos; you can film them on smartphones and other mobile devices. With social media platforms, it has become incredibly easy to share even live videos from your smartphone. Hence, utilising live videos in your restaurant’s social media campaign is a great idea; much more when you consider that Facebook live videos grow your post engagement by 10x compared to regular videos.
Why behind-the-scenes videos?
People like to see what goes on behind the curtain. They love it when you show them how their favourite dishes on your restaurant’s digital menu are being made. It satisfies their curiosity and proves you’re transparent and take great care to satisfy their hunger and appetite. These facts explain why the best restaurant social media campaigns usually contain behind-the-scenes videos.
Be careful, though. Sometimes, behind-the-scenes videos can cause more harm than good. Imagine showing a dirty or chaotic kitchen online to hundreds or thousands of viewers. Many viewers will start imagining the things they haven’t seen regarding past dishes you prepared. Such videos can permanently maim your business.
For example, you may have seen some of the horror shows on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
Similarly, you must refrain from posting videos or images of sparsely populated or empty dining halls. Some restaurants make the mistake of posting such images, maybe intending to show off how clean and orderly the place is. Believe it or not, that’s the last thing you want to do for your restaurant. Instead, here are great ways to market your restaurant on social media.
5. Encourage and share user-generated content (UGC).
User-generated content (UGC) is content about your restaurant created by customers. These include text, images, and videos. Some restaurants don’t take advantage of their UGC even though such content is 2.4 times more likely to convince customers than any content the restaurant creates.
Neglecting UGC opportunities occur when a restaurant doesn’t appreciate its true value, lacks UGC, doesn’t know where to find UGC, or lacks ideas on how to get customers to generate such content. One of the easiest ways to discover UGC about your restaurant is to search Instagram. Overall, encouraging and sharing UGC is among the best restaurant social media campaigns because it has a massive influence on potential customers.
You can find UGC on Instagram.
Simply look up your location on Instagram to see if anyone has tagged you in their post. Select the best ones (obviously those that say great things about your restaurant) and share them with other customers on social media.
This is a highly effective way to trigger conversations about your brand and boost engagement. Many prospective customers will derive encouragement from such content to visit your restaurant. Here are other great ways to leverage UGC to grow your restaurant business.
Generate some UGC to share.
While it’s true that users are the brain behind UGC generation, must you always wait for customers to post about your restaurant before sharing such it? No. In fact, unless you have more UGC than you can practically share, we’d urge you to do anything necessary for customers to talk positively about you online.
Throw up a contest that rewards several customers who create the best tags on your restaurant within a given time range. Depending on how many customers participate, you’ll likely get more UGC than you can share in one month.
Some upsides of UGC.
While UGC is 2.4 times more likely to convert customers than the posts you generate, an insufficient number of UGC can also drive prospective customers away.
Many people turn to UGC when deciding whether or not to dine at your restaurant. In fact, UGC influences the purchasing choices of a whopping 79% of customers. Also, 30% of millennial diners will skip a restaurant that doesn’t have a strong Instagram presence even if they execute the best restaurant social media campaigns.
UGC is a gift from customers.
Those creating high-quality content to share on a social media page know how difficult and frustrating the task can be, especially when you’re posting regularly. This explains why any restaurateur would gladly accept free and valuable content to post on their social media pages. This is especially true when the content promotes the restaurant and has twice as much credibility as the brand’s official posts.
UGC is a free gift from your customers — though you sometimes need to give up something to get it. By making and sharing pictures, videos, and text that promote your restaurant, your customers are doing much of the marketing job for you.
6. Throw a social media contest.
Aggressive marketing campaigns have made people incredibly used to freebies — to the extent that if you never give away free things in your restaurant, you may come off as tight-fisted. According to reports, 49% of Facebook fans like a brand page for discounts or coupons, while 35% do so for contests.
A restaurant page that turbocharges its community with contests and free offers will have more frequent viewers because people won’t like to miss such opportunities, especially if they’re regular customers. Such activity also helps in building rapport with diners, thus, making it easier to persuade customers for a positive review every now and then.
An excellent way to offer free stuff to your customers is by organising an online restaurant loyalty program.
What do you want in return for contests?
Free offers and contests should come with strings attached; otherwise, you will unlikely get a sufficient ROI (return on investment). All participants should fulfil specific requirements to qualify, such as liking your page, using a specific hashtag, making Instagram stories, or even sharing your digital restaurant menu link across their social media etc. Such social media campaign ideas for restaurants increase brand awareness and drive engagement for your restaurant in the long run.
7. Use local social media influencers.
This works best with Instagram. Every community has social media influencers, especially on Instagram, since most of its users are teens and young adults. Many influencer stats compel marketers to use them — for example, 18-25-year-olds trust influencers more than their friends or family, and 28% of consumers learn about new products via influencers.
Influencers significantly influence teens, to the point where 6 out of every 10 teens follow their advice. Many other stats highlight the importance of leveraging influencers to increase restaurant sales. The question is, how do you go about it?
Use only influencers near you.
Not every influencer is suitable for your business, regardless of follower count. You must select influencers based on the criteria we’ll discuss here. The first thing is that they must be within your city or, even better, your target market area. That’s because this is where most of their followers are likely to be.
To find influencers in your specific area, you can use tools such as Influencity, which will allow you to search through thousands of influencers across various platforms.
Prioritise engagement over follower count.
People can buy followers. Even if these followers are real, they’re unlikely to engage with the influencer’s content because they aren’t organic followers.
Influencers with low engagement rates won’t help your business much, if at all. Those trying to know how to increase restaurant sales through social media by using influencers must take note of this.
Engagements can also be bought, such as likes and, sometimes, even comments. This is why you should not only rely on numbers but also on analysis.
While it’s near impossible to detect fake likes, you can usually tell whether comments are real by visually analysing them. Generally, an engagement rate of 10% is good, even if the influencer has just a few hundred followers. A minimum of 10 comments per post also indicates good engagement.
You can use tools such as Modash to analyse influencers and determine whether they have bought their followers or not.
8. Harness direct messaging campaigns.
According to studies, direct Twitter messages have a 300% higher chance of being clicked than email campaigns. This means you should use any direct messaging features of the social media platforms you use for restaurant promotion. It’s quite a job, though — you have to send personalised messages to your customers.
Unless you have a manageable number of customers, we’d suggest using this method only on influencers or people you think can bring you new customers. Remember what we said about Instagram stories? You can check out the trending ones in your area and reach out directly to the poster with a free meal offer. But remember to appreciate their posts and send personalised messages.
9. Use paid social media ads.
You can exploit social media via several means to help your business, and for free. But some powerful features are only “pay to play”. Targeted and retargeted ads are among the best restaurant social media campaigns you can undertake to broadcast seasonal updates and specials you may have incorporated into your meal catalogue following a digital menu creation.
Spending on ads is mandatory if you want to really get serious campaigning for your restaurant on social media. Chances are that most of your competitors are doing it. Outdoing them or even staying in the league would be near impossible if you aren’t willing to spend.
But how do you get the biggest bang for your buck with paid ads? Even a bank-breaking advertising budget won’t guarantee a successful advertising campaign if you don’t follow the methods outlined above and throughout this article. Moreover, what’s the best time to run social media ads for your restaurant business?
Facebook and Instagram advertising
While you can pay to advertise on all social media platforms, our advertising focus will be on Facebook and Instagram. This is because some 93% of social media marketers run ads on Facebook. This figure sits at 78% for Instagram, and a further 93% of US marketers plan to use Instagram for advertising.
When is Facebook advertising successful?
Many unprofessional Facebook marketers think one needs to be glued to their screen for several hours a day before achieving concrete results from advertising campaigns. They also mistakenly assume that getting many reactions, likes, comments, shares, etc., for their campaigns shows success. The reality is that it’s possible for your posts to enjoy huge engagement without tangible conversion.
The bottom line result is the ultimate sign of success or failure of social media campaign ideas for restaurants. If a marketing campaign doesn’t succeed in driving business to your restaurant, then what’s the point of your social media presence and promotion activities?
It doesn’t matter how many people engage with your posts and ads. What matters is how many dine at your restaurant due to your online activities.
Boosting vs. designing ads from scratch.
Boosting a post doesn’t cost anywhere near designing a new ad, but it’s less effective and doesn’t reach as far. Don’t misunderstand us here, though. We aren’t saying that Facebook and other social media won’t help your business without a sizable ad budget.
There are two means of advertising on Facebook. You can either boost your posts or go straight to sophisticated ads. Post-boosting is how Facebook makes it quick and easy for people to spend money on advertising.
While Ads Manager is the tool for more sophisticated managers, post-boosting is a limited version of this software. The Ads Manager shines in designing campaigns from scratch and deeply analysing and tracking campaign performance.
Why post-boosting might suck.
Sticking to post-boosting alone implies a limited reach, and you’ll even start to come off as spammy to viewers if you rely solely on it. For example, constantly bombarding your customer base with offers, adverts, and announcements, isn’t really going to do much in the long run in terms of engagement. Simply put, boosting ads aren’t the best restaurant social media campaign on Facebook or Instagram.
Extra Tip: The Social Media Platforms to Use
These are our recommended six:
Facebook is great for reaching several demographics and building communities online. Instagram is effective for sharing pictures of your food, behind-the-scenes videos, etc., while TikTok is excellent for reaching young adults and generating organic virality.
Use Pinterest to build a board of menu pictures and allow your customers to pin their favourite pictures. YouTube has a projected 2.4 billion users as of 2023 — use it for longer videos about your restaurant and to build brand awareness.
We can see from this post that the best restaurant social media campaigns share some common features. Before launching a campaign, determine where most of your customers hang out on social media.
Moreover, as you build a campaign, make sure to learn as you go along on what are the best strategies for your restaurant. You can even invent new ones to gain some competitive advantage. But avoid breaking any rules outlined in this guide because these are tried and tested.
Finally, a great way to maximise your restaurant’s social media campaigns is by designing an easily accessible and modifiable digital menu whose link you can share online. Having your menu (and its link) on your social media platforms lets your customers know what you have in store without visiting your restaurant. Moreover, you and your team can easily collaborate to make live updates to your restaurant’s menu from time to time.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up on Menuzen today to enjoy our free digital menu tools.