Introduction to Social Media Marketing for Restaurants

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Gabriela Tan
January 18, 2023
People on their phones checking out a restaurant's social media channels.

Promoting your restaurant on social media is an effective and affordable way of attracting new customers. But let’s be honest, social media marketing, especially for the restaurant industry, is easier said than done.


For Gen Z, using social media comes as second nature, considering they’ve lived their entire lives online. For those of us who may be from older generations, it’s a relatively new concept that started with the creation of the first social media platform in 1997 called Six Degrees. However, social media platforms only started becoming more widespread several years later with the creation of MySpace in 2003 and Facebook in 2004. With the popularity of social media on the rise, came the ability to reach a larger audience at the push of a button. 


Not long after the creation of Facebook, came the beginning of social media marketing when Facebook started allowing ads on its platform in 2006. Fast forward to today, approximately 59.3% of the world’s population (4.74 billion people) use social media for an average of 2 hours and 27 minutes per day. Taking a look at these statistics, social media marketing has an undeniably large reach that can help businesses in any industry, and the restaurant industry is no exception to that. Social media marketing for restaurants can give your brand a distinct voice and personality, not to mention it’s also significantly cheaper than traditional methods of advertising, such as TV and radio ads. 


Like what you’re hearing about social media marketing for restaurants? Keep reading to learn more about social media marketing, different social media platforms, and which platform may be right for your business. 

What is social media marketing? 

Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms to promote a product or service. It allows businesses to create and share content, as well as interact with customers in real time. This can lead to increased brand awareness and customer loyalty.


Social media marketing offers several benefits over other marketing channels. It allows businesses to reach a larger audience with targeted advertising, and track the success of campaigns with built-in analytics. Additionally, social media platforms offer a low-cost and measurable way to engage with customers and create brand awareness. As more and more people use social media, having a strong presence on these platforms has become essential for businesses looking to expand their reach and drive sales.  Overall, social media marketing is an important element in a digital marketing strategy.

A person taking a photo of their meal at a restaurant to share on social media.

Why should restaurants use social media marketing? 

If you don’t have social media marketing as a part of your restaurant’s marketing strategy yet, it’s worth considering for several reasons. First off, it gives your restaurant an online presence, allowing potential guests to find you online. Not being online can cost you customers, considering that 30% of millennials actively avoid restaurants with a weak Instagram presence.


On top of that, having social media for your business allows you to have a platform to post information, such as your location, business hours, and events. It can open up two-way communication with your audience, by allowing guests to ask questions and send messages, which will positively impact customer loyalty. The built-in analytics within social media platforms can help you target ads for your desired audience.


Lastly, social media is free promotion since there’s no cost to create a profile. Not to mention that 69% of millennials take photos of their food before eating it. These photos tend to end up on various social media platforms with a tag or shout-out to the restaurant. 

Popular social media platforms:

Some of the most lucrative social media platforms for marketing are Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter. Here’s a brief summary of each of them:

Facebook

Facebook is a social media platform where users can sign up for a free profile and connect with people online. Users can make posts on their profile that consist of text, photos, videos, and links. Users can interact with posts by using reactions and comments. It also has a feature called Facebook Pages that allows businesses, organizations, and public figures to create a page and connect with their audience. 


As of July 2022, Facebook has a whopping 2.934 billion monthly active users and a 2.168 billion global advertising audience. These numbers make Facebook the world’s most active social media platform. 

Instagram

Instagram is a social media platform that allows users to share photos and videos publicly or with a select number of followers. When a user follows another user, they are essentially subscribing to their Instagram content. Users can interact with others through likes, comments, and direct messaging. Depending on what the user is looking for, content can also be organized by hashtags or geographical location tags. 


As of July 2022, Instagram had an advertising reach of 1.44 billion users, which makes it the fourth most active social media platform.

A phone showing various social media apps, which a restaurant can leverage in their social media marketing.

TikTok

TikTok is a social media platform that allows users to create and share short-form videos, with a variety of filters and music available to use. Videos are typically between five and 120 seconds long, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as a “bite-sized” version of YouTube (which is the second most active social platform). TikTok makes it easy for content and music to go viral due to its algorithm and the ability to use someone else’s audio to create your own videos.


As of July 2022, TikTok had an advertising reach of 1.023 billion users, which makes it the sixth most active social media platform. Although it may rank lower than other forms of social media, it’s important to note that TikTok is Gen Z’s social media of choice, which means it has an exceptionally large influence on the current generation. 

Twitter

Twitter is a social media platform that allows users to share short messages, called tweets, of up to 280 characters. It is known for its real-time updates, trending topics, and breaking news. Users can interact with others by following, retweeting, and replying to tweets. Similar to Instagram, you can follow other users to subscribe to their tweets, and you can choose whether you want to share your own tweets publicly or privately to select followers. 


As of July 2022, Twitter had an advertising reach of 486 million users, which makes it the 14th most active social media platform. Although it is lowest on the list, Twitter tends to have the shortest learning curve, as the platform is relatively simple and intuitive. 

Which social media platform should you use?

Selecting the appropriate social media platform for your restaurant can be challenging. However, to ensure a successful marketing strategy, it’s important to identify which platform to focus most of your efforts on. 


Firstly, you need to determine your target audience and which platform they spend the most time on. For a guide on how to define your target audience, check out this article.


If your target audience is younger, perhaps they’re most likely to use Instagram and TikTok over Facebook. Next is to decide which platform aligns best with your brand. If your brand is more upscale, Facebook and Instagram may be better suited than TikTok. You should also consider the type of content you want to share. Photos would be best on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but videos would be best on TikTok or Instagram. And lastly, you should consider your comfort level and the amount of time and resources you want to invest. Sending off a tweet could take under a minute, whereas you may spend more time finding the perfect lighting to film a TikTok or Instagram video. Ultimately, you need to do what’s best, and feasible, for you and your team.

A social media manager for a restaurant taking a photo of a dish.

Final thoughts on social media marketing for restaurants:

Social media marketing for restaurants can be a powerful tool to reach and engage with customers. Each platform offers unique opportunities for promoting your business and connecting with your audience. By understanding the strengths of each platform and creating a strategic plan that aligns with your restaurant's goals, you can effectively use social media to attract new customers and build loyalty among existing ones. It's important to stay active and consistent in your social media efforts, track your progress, and adjust your strategy accordingly. With a little creativity and effort, social media marketing can help your restaurant thrive.


If you’re looking for ways to streamline your restaurant’s people management and payroll, learn how Push can help by chatting with a specialist.

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