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Mastering Social Media Marketing for Restaurants: Essential Tips

Cover Image for Picture of someone taking a picture of their food on their phone
By Morgan Carter

Social media has proven to be a great tool for restaurants, wineries, and other industry businesses to market themselves, tell their story, and ultimately, convert followers into loyal guests. In fact, 45% of diners have visited a restaurant solely because of a social media post. Check out these tips on how to get your business on social media.

Which platforms should I be using?
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and more—which platform do you choose for your business? Well, it depends on what you’d like to accomplish and who you’d like to reach. TikTok, the most downloaded app worldwide, has over 1 billion monthly users, 65 million of which reside in the U.S. alone. Over 60% of TikTok users fall under the umbrella Generation Z, making it a useful app to engage with the next generation of up and coming diners. However, when it comes to the original pioneer of “phone eats first” and all of the hashtags and newly founded food holidays that came with it, the award goes to Instagram. To this day, the app draws in 2 billion active users and continues to be a go-to resource for avid diners. In fact, 30% of millennial diners actively avoid a restaurant if it doesn’t have a strong Instagram presence. Not to be counted out, Facebook is still the world’s largest social network with 2.93 billion active users, reaching the widest range of demographics. While there are pros and cons to each, start out by choosing a platform to see what works best for you and your restaurant.

Set up your account
Time to get started and set up your account. Select a username that will suit your business and will be an easy find for your potential audience. If the platform offers it, select a business account which will offer access to data, analytics, and ad creation. And before you get to posting, liking, and tagging, remember that social media is a tool for information. So list your hours, location, and links to your website. The more information you provide upfront, the better.

Find your voice
Every time you post, interact, and respond to your guests on social media, you are showcasing your brand’s voice and personality. But how do you start building a voice? One exercise is to jot down a few adjectives that describe the persona of your business (be it a restaurant, winery, or distillery). How would you describe it? Posh or homey? Modern or retro? Understated or effervescent? Once you decide on these words, use them as a through line to navigate how your brand would speak to the world. Additionally, keeping it consistent across channels is key. Accomplish this by creating brand guidelines for a cohesive throughline.

Create a Schedule To Stay on Track
Just like you prepare your restaurant for the coming months, planning your social media is a must. Plus, what’s happening at your restaurant can go hand in hand with your social strategy. Adding a new menu item? Snap a picture and attach a quick, enticing description. New chef on the line? Introduce them to your audience by sharing their story. A one-night only wine tasting? Tease the event on static posts and stories to drive sign ups. For even further planning, mobile apps like Unfold make it easy to map out a grid of Instagram posts for better visualization. For photo inspiration, check out Tock’s Instagram for examples.

Choose eye catching photos
The old adage is true: people eat with their eyes first. However, that doesn’t mean you have to whip out the overhead light every time to get the perfect shot. If you are just starting out, remember these tips: capture a few different angles for various options, be mindful of lighting, and promote the most appetizing (and appealing) dishes on your menu to catch people’s attention. With social media, you have the opportunity to draw in diners over your food, your drinks, your atmosphere, and what type of experience people can have. So put your best photos forward.

Engage with Your Followers
Not everything is post, post, post—engaging with your followers is key. If a guest comments on your post, respond to them directly or acknowledge them by liking their comment. Receive a DM? Try your best to respond within 24 hours. If a guest tags you in social, show them love by resharing their post via Instagram stories.

Get To Know Your Audience
You’ll start to notice that certain posts perform better and others, well, not so much. Learn what your audience reacts to as a way to guide your content, whether that be staff stories or top notch dish shots. Get in the habit of tracking what followers engage with the most, as well as the least engagement, to help guide a future strategy.

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