Getting Started With Your Restaurant Social Media Marketing: The Essential Guide

Eating out used to be a pretty simple affair.

Step one: Order food.

Step two: Eat the food.

Thanks to the arrival of social media, it’s gotten way more complicated for restaurant-goers since.

Today, the prelude to stuffing your face is far lengthier, and looks something like this:

1) Step one: Find a table with the best natural lighting in the restaurant.

2) Step two: Browse food blogs, food Instagrammer accounts, or Burpple to find out what the tastiest (and more importantly, best-looking) food items are at the restaurant.

3) Step three: Order food.

4) Step four: Take an Instagram Story of yourself (and your friends, if you’re feeling generous) at the restaurant, so that your world knows what a cool cat you are. Check in on Facebook as well, while you’re at it.

5) Step five: Arrange food items such that they look like they just emerged from a magazine. Then take multiple photos. First, with a DSLR camera. Then, with the phone camera (VSCO Cam, or Camera+ should do the trick). From multiple angles.

6) Step six: Start publishing your pictures on Instagram while the rest of your table take their photos.

7) Step seven: Eat the food.

The entire process might take between 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how forgiving you’re feeling about photo quality that day.

All so you and your entourage can show off your meal on Facebook and Instagram.

Which is why restaurants need to get onto social media, pronto.

Not On Social Media? You’re Missing Out

Sure, that’s an entirely hypothetical situation (or is it?).

So here’s some data to back that up.

A yearly report released by We Are Social and Hootsuite found that more than three billion people around the world use social media each month, with 9 in 10 of those users accessing their chosen platforms via mobile devices.


In other words, chances are extremely high that your potential customers are already roaming around on social media already.

Additionally, Sprout Social found that 67% of Gen Xers, 60% of millennials, and 51% of baby boomers will likely purchase something from a brand they follow on social media.

The question is: are you there to meet them?

The truth is, social media has become such a huge part of the dining experience that it would be a shame if you don’t tap on it in your restaurant marketing plan.

Let’s have a look at how you can get your restaurant social media marketing engine going, stat.

Getting Your Restaurant Social Media Strategy Right

A wise person once said that failing to plan is planning to fail. So before joining the ranks of restaurants who have run immensely successful social media marketing campaigns, let’s start with the basics, and have a look at your restaurant social media strategy.

Choosing A Platform

First and foremost, you’ll need to decide which social media platforms you want to be on.

You don’t want to spread your attention too thin – there are some 105 social networks to pick from, according to PracticalEcommerce – so narrow down to one or two where your target audience is likely to be on.

For example, if your restaurant serves “hipster foods”, you’ll likely be aiming to attract a younger, millennial crowd.

In that case, your best bet will probably to focus on Instagram, which is popular amongst those ageing 18 to 34 years old.

As a general rule of thumb, it makes sense to choose from the top 10 most-used social media platforms in the world, which currently includes the following:

1) Facebook

2) YouTube

3) WhatsApp

4) Facebook Messenger

5) WeChat

6) QQ

7) Instagram

8) Tumblr

9) QZone

10) Sina Weibo

Twitter narrowly missed out this list, but should also be considered due to its continued popularity amongst certain crowds. More on that later.

Determine Your Restaurant Brand Personality

People who have no personality – or appear to have none – tend to have fewer friends.

Same goes for restaurants.

If your restaurant doesn’t have a memorable brand personality, it is almost certainly going to get drowned out in the sea of noise that is social media.

Starbucks is a great example of this.

When you have a meeting, or need to grab a coffee on the way to work, chances are you’re going to think of Starbucks.

This is not by chance at all. From the get-go, founder Howard Schultz has made it his mission for Starbucks to become the Third Place – home, work, and then Starbucks – in our daily lives. He does this by mandating a great customer experience in each ahnd every Starbucks branch and outlet.

What is their brand personality? In a word: comforting.

“We want to provide all the comforts of your home and office,” says a Starbucks manager named Kelly.

In your restaurant social media marketing efforts, what do you want your brand to be remembered for?

If you’re not quite sure, here are some of the top behaviors that Sprout Social discovered consumers wanted from brands on social media:

Once you’ve confirmed the social media channels you’d like to target, as well as the brand personality you want to portray, it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll zoom in and have a look at how to get started with your restaurant Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter marketing efforts.

How To Kickstart Your Restaurant Facebook Marketing

1. Create your restaurant’s Facebook Page

When someone searches for your restaurant’s name on Google, chances are that your Facebook Page will appear somewhere at the top of page one.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a great look if your restaurant’s Facebook Page was only half-filled in.

Worse still, if it didn’t even exist!

Therefore, it’s critical to create a Facebook Page for your restaurant as soon as possible.

Thankfully, Facebook has made it a relatively painless and straightforward process, with clear instructions every step of the way.

First, click on Create a Page, which can be found in the dropdown menu at the top right of Facebook’s screen:

Next, choose the Business or Brand category for your Page:

2. Fill it out as much as possible

Now, fill out as many details as possible through the sign-up process.

Here are some of the most important components to take note of:

Add an appropriate profile and cover photo

In particular, your profile photo is extremely important, because it will be one of the first things that appear when anyone searches for your restaurant brand name:

Of course, your cover photo is almost as essential, given the sheer amount of space it takes up on your Facebook Page. Make full use of it to show off your product:

Provide your website, opening hours, address, and description in the About section

These are by far the most critical bits of information that potential diners will want to know about your restaurant.

Don’t frustrate your customers by making them search around for it!

Make sure that they are all filled in (and constantly updated) from the get-go, like how Japanese sushi restaurant Maki-San did:

A bonus for you if you’re able to craft a compelling, mouth-watering description to go with it.

Add in all your outlets

What if you have multiple outlets? Should you create a Facebook Page for each location?

That seems like it might take up a whole of time.

Thankfully, Facebook has covered the bases well, making it easy for you to add all your locations directly to the main Facebook Page.

If you have several restaurant outlets, you can opt to upload them in bulk to Facebook via a spreadsheet as well.

Once that’s done, each location will have its own Facebook subpage.

For instance, let’s have a look at one of Maki-San’s outlets, which is located in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District:

Clicking into it will reveal the Maki-San (International Plaza) Facebook subpage:

The upside of this? You can directly reshare content from each location’s subpage to the main restaurant Facebook page, which will save a lot of time going back-and-forth between them.

Customers will also be able to post location-specific reviews, which would give you an insight into which outlets are doing better than others at a glance.

On the other hand, you’ll need to manage multiple Facebook Pages.

This means that you’d need to keep a close watch on whether your restaurant brand personality is consistent across all of them, which can be extremely difficult if your restaurant has many outlets.

A solution might be to hire a full-time community manager to keep all content published on the respective Facebook Pages on-brand.

3. Establish a regular publishing schedule

So, how often should you be posting on your restaurant’s Facebook Page?

More is not always better. While “tweetstorms” are a common practice on Twitter, you might witness an exodus of followers if you attempted the same on Instagram.

For Facebook – it depends on the number of followers you have, according to Hubspot.

Generally speaking, if your Facebook Page has more than 10,000 followers, posting more often increases the number of clicks per post.

For those with less than 10,000 followers, the reverse was true: posting more often led to fewer clicks per post.

Thus, in the early stages, quantity might not matter as much as frequency. Ahalogy recommends posting to your Facebook Page no more than once a day, between 1 to 4pm.

Why is frequency more important?

In the beginning, you’ll be working on building up an audience, and as such, it’s critical to show up everyday and remind them of your presence.

Not in an obnoxious, in-your-face way though – which is why one post a day works.

If you suspect that consistency might be an issue, be sure to create a social media calendar to keep you on track.

6 Inspiring Examples of Restaurant Facebook Marketing

1. Beautiful imagery plus call-to-action: Coca Restaurants Singapore

This Thai steamboat restaurant hits the mark by consistently doing two things: using beautiful imagery and celebrating special events on social media.

This post, for example, does both:

No exaggeration about how good their photos are, right?

You can spend minutes just scrolling through their restaurant Facebook posts, and you’ll find yourself wanting to get not only table reservations, but also some photography tips.

And whether they’re just simply greeting their Facebook followers or offering a promo, Coca Restaurants always remember to celebrate events like Hari Raya, Vesak Day, and Father’s Day.

One other thing you’ll notice in Coca Restaurants’ posts – they almost always include a call to action.

As you can see In the post above, they make it easier to book a reservation by providing the phone numbers at their different locations. Plus, a ‘send message’ button lets you get in touch with them quickly.

2. Strong sense of community: Don Lechon Singapore

Don Lechon, a Filipino restaurant in Singapore, uses their Facebook page to show just how much they appreciate their customers.

Post after post shows diners having a good time, or sharing their positive experiences at the restaurant: 

Another post shares a positive review, of which the restaurant has many:

Don Lechon appear to know their market well – crucial to a successful restaurant social media strategy.

They’ve even highlighted their popular dishes and their prices in their cover image:

A combination of food photos and affordable prices certainly gets the casual Facebook browser interested in knowing more – especially compelling right before paychecks start coming in!

3. Fun personality: TGI Fridays

Anybody who’s been to one of TGI Fridays’ 900+ branches around the world knows one word best describes the chain: fun.

From New York to Dubai, their Facebook pages show videos of people having a blast and thanking God it’s Friday:

With their myriad locations, TGI Fridays also take advantage of Facebook’s location detecting capabilities. This means any official TGI Fridays Facebook page will likely redirect to a page specific to your country.

TGI Fridays throws events for loyal diners, too:

With people looking like they’re enjoying both the food and the company, who wouldn’t want to come?

4. Show that you care: SaladStop

You might call this a salad shop than a restaurant, but people do come here for complete meals. SaladStop earns a place on this list because no matter how popular they already are, they maintain an active restaurant Facebook page.

So what do you put on your page if everyone basically knows what you serve? You promote your brand by sharing the things you – and, presumably, your customers – care about:

From the post above, you’ll also see that SaladStop uses relevant hashtags for their posts.

But remember, it’s not about how many hashtags you use, but how closely they’re related to your post.

People searching for “reusable straws” on Facebook, for instance, could land on the post above, which could lead to potential sales of metal straws for SaladStop.

5. Responding well to negative reviews: Lucha Loco

Online reviews have made the restaurant industry more cutthroat than ever.

While it’s always ideal to get a perfect rating, once in a while there’ll be a disgruntled customer. The difference you make is in the way you respond to a negative review.

That’s why Lucha Loco is on this list. It has an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 315 reviews, which is quite a decent rating. But there are 2- and 1-star reviews, too.

Here’s how Lucha Loco responded to one negative review:

Instead of ignoring the review or providing a generic, insincere response, the restaurant apologised, admitted their mistake, and invited the reviewer to a conversation so they could make things right.

The restaurant can further improve their Facebook strategy by providing similar replies to other negative comments.

For positive reviews, Lucha Loco acknowledges them with a ‘like’.

6. Making plenty of videos: Burger King

Guru after guru says video is the future of content marketing. So go ahead and make videos. They can be entertaining or informative – or, better, both. Most of all, they need to be relevant.

Don’t believe us? See how many views Burger King’s videos get:

Some are simple enough, like showing off ingredients or unwrapping a burger. This video shows different ways customers order their Whopper burgers, varying from the number of patties to the types of toppings:

Others come complete with a script, setting, and acting.

This video was shared 1,500 times. As you can see from the reactions, it received a lot of laughs and love, too:

If you don’t have a large video budget, start small with videos that require just one setting. A smartphone with a high-quality camera will do the trick.

How to Kickstart Your Restaurant Instagram Marketing

1. Create a business profile

When Instagram launched business profiles in 2016, some fretted that switching from personal to business accounts might reduce engagement.

But if you want to make full use of your restaurant social media strategy (more on that later), business profiles are the way to go.

First, sign up through an email address or a Facebook account.

Once on the app, go to Settings and choose ‘Switch to business account’. Here’s a screenshot from Instagram’s video guide:

Next, add your company information, such as business hours and URL.

Upload a profile photo that clearly shows your logo. Users will be viewing your feed on a phone screen, so you want to make sure that your logo is clear and identifiable. Bold colors, contrast, and an uncluttered layout will help achieve this effect.

With a business account, you can post not just pics and stories, but also ads. You can access metrics on your post performance, too.

2. Put yourself out there with Stories

If you’re new to Instagram or don’t use it very often, chances are you might be hesitant with using the Stories feature. Don’t be.

Stories are a great way to make the most out of your restaurant Instagram marketing strategy. They allow you to post videos or a series of photos, instead of limiting you to just one picture.

Instagram Stories have been shown to increase product awareness. They also encourage user engagement when they’re built around a story, event, or offer. Stories can even be used to hold interactive polls with your follower base.

How many pictures does it take in a Story to keep your audience engaged to the end? The answer varies with different industries. For the food industry, this study found the median number of individual posts within a Story to be 5.88.

It’s a good idea to benchmark against the industry and your competitors, but also to leave yourself some room to experiment.

3. Up your photography game

This should go without saying, but the importance of photography skills in restaurant Instagram marketing can’t be overemphasised.

Make sure you or your team member can take good quality photos with both a DSLR and a phone camera.

It’s not just about the photography, though. You need to learn styling, like how to arrange food on a table to get the most visual impact.

Experiment with apps that provide effects, like VSCO, Boomerang, Hyperlapse, and Layout. You can also get playful with doodles and stickers using Stories.

And most of all, remember that a single picture (plus caption) can be used to tell a story intriguing enough to win you many followers.

4. Again, set up a consistent Instagram publishing schedule

Similar to what we talked about for your Facebook page, plan the month’s posts ahead by plugging Instagram posts into your social media calendar. Know what you’d like to post, and prepare the photos and text in advance.

Again, the big question is what day and time to post to maximise audience engagement. Different studies reveal different answers.

You can publish one to 10 posts per day on Instagram. Fashion Nova is said to post every 30 minutes, and has found traction with their audience by doing so, but what works for style-savvy teens might not work for casual diners or families.

While there’s no fixed formula, there are two good benchmarks: the performance of your previous posts, and that of your competitors.

First, conduct a content audit to identify which posts tend to get the most and least audience response.

The reason for the responses could depend on several things, like image quality and relevance to current events, but try to see if a trend also emerges based on day and time of posting.

Next, do the same for your top competitors’ posts.

Apart from that, other tips for scheduling posts include:

– Business trends: What are the peak days and hours of your restaurant? You can publish a post on the previous evening or hours before that.

– Holidays: Take holidays into account when creating your publishing schedule. You can also include days of celebration, like International Coffee Day or Pride Month.

– In-house events and promos: Coordinate with your sales team so you can plan promotional posts. Check with HR too with regards to company anniversaries or customer service awards for employees, as these can help strengthen your brand and improve customer perception of your company.

6 Inspiring Examples of Restaurant Instagram Marketing

1. Having fun: Taco Bell

It can be a challenge to promote almost nothing but tacos – but Taco Bell makes a good time of it on Instagram. They consistently use two strategies to stay in the radar of the cool crowd: jokes and very vibrant visuals.

Perk up your day with these tongue-in-cheek posts:

Visuals like these can liven up any Instagram feed, tempting even non-taco lovers to follow Taco Bell’s Instagram page anyway:

Take time to think of witty captions, too, even when your image is already eye-catching:

It might look like a lot of effort to accomplish, but the comments prove that the audience really appreciate it.

2. Visual consistency: Chope

Chope regularly uses Instagram to promote sales events, using both photo captions and graphics.

In these, their graphics use a consistent style and coherent colour palette. More importantly, they echo Chope’s logo:

No better way of staying at the top of your users’ minds!

3. Image variety: Krispy Kreme

For a chain with just a few types of products, Krispy Kreme sure has a variety of interesting photos. Their Instagram feed can teach restaurants a thing or two about styling and setting for food photography.

Here’s a quick overview of their feed:

Krispy Kreme’s photos teach restaurants to experiment by taking their dishes outdoors (even at the pool!) and approaching photography subjects from customers’ perspective.

4. Use of effects: Tian Kee & Co

Using filters in your Instagram photos can be a hit or miss.

Why? Some filters have been so overused that it is an Instagram trend to proudly note that a photo comes with #nofilter.

But for old-school cafe Tian Kee & Co, using a nostalgic filter with sepia tint couldn’t be more appropriate.

The cafe also uses grayscale effect and polaroid frames. Given its heritage, using such nostalgic devices is only apt.

5. User-generated content: Kabe No Ana Pasta

A quick glance at Kabe No Ana Pasta’s feed shows no shortage of mouth-watering Japanese dishes.

A smart strategy the restaurant employs is to repost photos taken by actual customers:

This is a great move because, even though they might not be as polished, it contributes and helps to build a sense of community.

It’s also a subtle form of social proof – people dine there, and love the food enough to share photos.

Plus, it saves the restaurant marketing team the time and effort of coming up with brand new imagery every time.

6. Emphasis on customers: Hyde and Co

Hyde and Co have their setting technique down pat, but that doesn’t stop them from pointing their lens towards their customers.

In fact, many of their photos simply show people hanging out at the cafe and enjoying their food.

There are plenty of pictures like the two shown above. Even if they don’t show food, they tell a story of happy, relaxed customers – a reflection of Hyde and Co’s vibe.

Other photos have people at the periphery, but they still work by highlighting customers’ enjoyment of the food:

Over to you: Treat it as play, not a chore

So there you have it – your guide to launching your restaurant marketing plan for Facebook and Instagram.

To be sure, setting up the respective accounts is easy, but it takes commitment to post regularly and engage the online community.

It all starts with a well-researched strategy, which leads to success with consistent effort.

Most importantly? Just have fun with it!

Users can tell when you’ve enjoyed making the post, and your positive vibes may rub off on them, helping to boost your brand.

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