The Complete Guide To Social Media For Restaurants

Written by:

Adam Guild

Last Updated

January 25, 2024

This guide is for restaurant owners who to grow their revenue using social media.

We’ll cover the three major social media channels for restaurants — TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook — and we'll look at how real restaurants are using these channels to reach more customers and make more money.

Which Social Platforms Are Best For Restaurants?

There are a lot of social media platforms being used for business.

But not all of them are useful for restaurant owners.

Over the last 5 years, we've seen three clear winners emerge for restaurants:

  1. Tiktok
  2. Instagram
  3. Facebook

If you're an active restaurant owner, you already know the importance of Instagram, and our guide to Instagram for Restaurants is one of the first things we created on this blog.

But what you may not realize is that organic Instagram is no longer as effective as it used to be, and it's important that you begin to incorporate paid ads in your Instagram strategy, as we'll discuss in this guide.

Tiktok, on the other hand, has taken the US by storm seemingly out of nowhere, and it can very quickly elevate a restaurant brand overnight, similar to the early days of Instagram and Facebook.

Facebook is the old member in this category, and yet it remains the most profitable ad platform for businesses, despite completely losing its value as an organic social platform.

In this superguide, we are going to teach you how to use all three of these social media channels for your restaurant.


Organic Tiktok Content Strategy

Organic content is any marketing videos you create to bring in traffic (customers) for free, and paid means you pay for your video to be placed in front of your target audience.

The more organic traffic you create, the better because it’s free, but paid can get the ball rolling—landing you in front of your potential customers, who should then go on to explore your organic posts. 

Customers scrolling your organic content is the goal, so it’s crucial you have a lot of fun and engaging videos that hook your viewers and keep them on your account. 

This means that you must create new content consistently, one to three times a week at minimum. 

That much posting means your content needs to vary. You can’t post the same type of video every time; people get bored. 

Let’s look at some examples of ways you can engage your customers so they are persuaded to come to eat at your restaurant. 

Give a tour of your restaurant.

Create a walkthrough video of your restaurant by starting at the entrance. Let people view the dining room, the bar (if you have one), any outdoor space you might have, and wrap it up with a trip through the kitchen.

It kickstarts people’s imagination to envision themselves walking around, soaking up the vibe, and getting ready to tuck into some good eats and a few drinks. 

Highlight any key features you might have. 

For example, if you have a woodfired oven, be sure to get that in the video tour—they’re beautiful, and seeing an employee work the oven is exciting. Any unique qualities your restaurant has should be shown to your audience. 

Look at this example from Eighteen22 Dining—they have an attractive restaurant, and showing it off will bring people through the door.

Introduce your staff and what they do.

People like to connect with those working in the restaurant industry. It’s why we have bartops to sit at and, more recently, in the last ten years, open kitchens with a chef counter so we can watch the cooks work.

Use your staff to create entertaining videos that are currently trending. It shows that people enjoy their jobs, like being there, and more than likely, if you go to eat there, you’ll have a good time too.

Check out this example from Levian Bakery, a small business in New York City. 

One of their bakers takes you on a day in her life while working at the bakery. You can tell from the video that everyone genuinely likes their job, and there’s an authenticity that can’t be faked.

It’s being authentic that will help you connect with people more than anything. Think about when you meet a person. If they feel off or like they are not being themselves, we have instinctual warning bells that go off in our heads to stay away. 

People also pick up on this from video, so don’t be scared to be yourself.

Highlight Crowd Favorite Menu Items.

Restaurants use this video approach more than any other form of organic content. It’s literally why people go to restaurants and having videos that show just how fresh, hot (or cold), and delicious food can be, will guarantee people come through the door. 

BlackTap in New York City does a fantastic job covering all their incredible desserts. This strawberry shortcake ice cream bar milkshake stacked up over a million views because it looks unbelievably good.

People automatically want to share videos that provoke that “wow” factor.

What’s a dish on your menu people ooh and aah over when it’s walked across the dining room?

Show the process for making a popular menu item.

Now that you’ve thought about a popular dish people love, create a video of it being put together by someone on your staff.

If you’re making a more complicated or technical dish, break it into a series. Just make sure that the text on the video says “part 1,” “part 2,” etc. If someone finds part two first, they’ll know to look for part one first. 

Craft By Smoke And Fire has some drool-worthy videos like this one here:

You don’t need to do this with just food items. You can do the same thing with a craft cocktail or when you’re going to introduce a new menu item.

Now, notice how the audio doesn’t use kitchen or restaurant sounds, but a woman speaking over the video? 

The audio was selected because it still relates to food, tells a story, and hits the feeling we all get of, “Ya, I just ate, but I’ll eat that sandwich right now anyways cause it looks good!”

This is another way to keep viewers engaged throughout the length of the video. Jumping on audio trends is a HUGE part of TikTok. 

Take advantage of audio trends.

Recently, there was a video of an adorable little boy talking about how much he loves corn. A duo of musicians called The Gregory Brothers got ahold of the video and gave it a remix with music.

The result is a new trend where people use the remix to create videos relating to the boy’s feelings about corn—like this video by Pastamore. Instead of showing corn, they show their love of pasta.

It’s not corn, but by substituting a different food, it becomes fun and relatable. Hundreds of restaurants could use this approach to showcase the foods they love.

When you’re beginning, stick to these basic concepts for content. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Stay current with what’s trending, make a video copying what’s popular, and then encourage people to repost it. 

That’s literally the backbone of TikTok. The most popular social media influencers recreate current trends, and people love them by resharing.

Just be sure to post often and post what your customers would find interesting. This means posting specials, giveaways, gift cards, and any news your customers will find relevant. 

Here are a few guidelines when making a video in any of these formats:

  • Shoot videos in high resolution. You don’t need fancy equipment; just ensure it’s 720p or higher.
  • Be sure to use audio. Whether that’s a voiceover of trending audio, a hit song, or your own voice explaining what’s happening.
  • Keep it short but not too brief. The most successful videos are between 21 and 34 seconds.
  • Use the full screen. Use the TikTok creative tools to remove any black spaces.
  • Shoot in vertical mode, meaning as you shoot on your phone. Don’t make videos in square or horizontal formats.


Paid Tiktok Content Strategy

We’ll start by covering influencers and the results they can yield. Then we’ll go into using the marketing tool TikTok for Business—the centralized platform for creating ads on TikTok.

Working with Influencers.

They’re called influencers for a reason, and getting one to promote your restaurant can have an immediate influx of customers walking through the door.

For example, @sisterssnacking made a video while visiting renowned French chef Laurent Tourondel’s new restaurant, Skirt, in Manhattan. They had a special, $28 for a steak and unlimited fries. 

The sister’s posted this video:

By the end of the day, the video had 1 million views. The next day, the host called Chef to the front to show him a line of more than 100 people waiting to get steak and fries. 

I spoke with Skirt Steak’s sous chef at the time, Brian Schmidt, about the experience.

“It was crazy. Because of that video, we were packed for months, and there was always a line that went down and around the block. We don’t take reservations, so people would stand outside for hours, even if it was raining.” 

Since the release of that video, it has gained over 6 million views.

This is the power of an influencer.

While these results are by no means guaranteed, you can at least be sure that you’ll get your restaurant brand in front of influencer’s following, with their stamp of approval to come down and try some food.

It’s worth working with established and vetted influencers even if the chances of going viral are slim; you can generate a tremendous amount of brand awareness. Just check the number of followers they have and be sure of the quality of their work.

What is TikTok for business?

TikTok saw a need and filled the gap by saving businesses from trying to create their own marketing strategies from scratch. 

TikTok for Business made step-by-step guides or templates to help companies through the process of creating ads, making a budget, hitting their target audience, and then allowing them to analyze their marketing campaign data.

By making it easy, more companies will use TikTok for advertising. 

There’s another reason TikTok wanted to help businesses make their own ads. 


TikTok is a fun and entertaining app built for scrolling and soaking up stimulation. Giving businesses these formats helps TikTok to stay on brand, so there aren’t any disruptions to the flow of content. 

TikTok for business gives you 6 different formats to work with:

  • In-Feed Ads
  • Business Takeover Ads
  • Top Views
  • Branded Effects
  • Spark Ads
  • Hashtag Challenges

Let’s look at each of these formats to help bring in real, paying customers.

How to use In-Feed Ads. 

In-feed ads show up in the “For You” content feed. These ads are great because they look like organic posts, and they are by far the most common ads on TikTok—which means they work.

They can last up to 60 seconds, and people have the ability to comment, react to, or share the post. The post includes a call to action, so you can redirect them to your business page or promote a special or giveaway.

In this photo, you can see how the ad changes after 9 seconds to highlight the CTA, your brand name, and any other information you’d like promoted. 

When creating an In-Feed Ad, ask yourself, “what is the goal of this ad?” Let’s say you’re promoting a new menu. Make a video with each new menu item, and as the 9 seconds tick by, you’ll generate enough interest that when CTA highlights, they’ll smash that button so they can see the whole menu.

What are Brand Takeover Ads?

When a social media user first opens TikTok, the brand takeover ad will use the entire screen for several seconds before turning into an in-feed ad. 

The idea is to grab the user's attention and hold them there long enough to keep them watching. You’ll see clickable links that will take you to landing pages within TikTok.

In this ad, you can see how the video takes over the whole screen. Because TikTok guarantees you 100% share of voice for the day (meaning competitors won’t be mentioned during the time your ad runs), it comes at a hefty price—some reports say it starts at $50,000 a day.

The price is heavy, but you’re buying the complete attention of the app user, and when executed on a mass scale, it can bring in significant results.

Because of the price, I would work with a marketing agency to create a super polished-looking ad. Spending $50k to promote an organic video of Brenda, the bartender making your most popular drink, wouldn’t be a good use of money.

Dropping this kind of cash means doing something huge, like opening a new location.

What are Top View Ads? 

Top view ads are very similar to brand takeover ads because they are the first thing people see, but the difference is that they don’t completely dominate the screen like brand takeovers. 

Instead, they are placed as the first post when users open the app to the “For You” half of the feed. You need to catch their attention quickly since, after 3 seconds, users can scroll past if they aren’t entertained.

Top views also don’t guarantee total voice share, so competitors will still be in the feed, making this format an affordable option. 

Use Top View Ads when you have an event coming up or a busy weekend.

Let’s say the Fourth of July is around the corner, and your restaurant is a popular destination. 

You have live music, an outdoor area, and food and drink specials. Show a video of the previous year’s crowd having a good time, coupled with shots of the specials and people dancing to live music.  

It’s a party, and using Top View Ads buys you the time you need at the top of the feed to get the user’s attention.

How to use Branded Effects.

Branded effect ads are 2D, 3D, and AR (augmented reality) effects that can be played over your ad’s video. 

These effects are customizable, meaning you can craft them to look like popular food items, your logo, or anything you can think of that people will find engaging. The AR filters are fun, too, because they act as a green screen, simulating users being in a different environment than they are.

In this image, you can see that filters and stickers are being used for the sunglasses, drink, and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Because the effects are highly customizable, you’ll be able to create stickers and AR filters that match the rest of your marketing strategy.

Let’s say that you own a burger shop that promotes the fact that you use grass-fed beef in all your burgers. Taking a trip out to a farm to hang with some cows could be problematic, especially if you live in a desert region. 

Using an AR filter, you can make it appear that you are standing in a bright green field with happy cows, talking about the importance of using high-quality meat. It saves you a trip to the farm, and it reinforces your brand values.

When to use Spark Ads.

Spark ads allow you to promote organic content that has already been made. 

Let’s say you made a tour of the restaurant video that shows your beautiful dining room, and it’s capped off by showing the sunset on your outdoor patio. If that video is already generating a higher-than-average number of views and comments, spark ads allow you to boost it so you’ll reach more of your target audience. 

The bonus about spark ads is that you can do this with videos made by other users. 

For example, a guest films food being delivered to the table, and the dish has a particular “wow” factor that’s generating thousands of views.

With spark ads, you’ll be able to ask the user if you can use their video to help promote the restaurant. If they say yes, you can keep the video's momentum going by turning it into a spark ad. 

You’ll notice that these images look almost identical except for the CTA button towards the bottom of the post. That button allows you to push the viewer to come in to eat by redirecting them to your website, restaurant promotion, or giveaway. 

What that button says is customizable, so get creative. For instance, if the video is the sunset on the patio example we just used, have the button say “Eat At Sunset,” which will redirect people to your reservations page. 

What are Branded Hashtag Challenges?

A branded hashtag challenge is designed to get tons of user-generated content (UGC). It’s called a branded challenge because a business (or brand)  is what’s sponsoring the challenge.

The idea is that for six days, a company has exclusive rights to the hashtag for their challenge. Hashtags don’t come cheap—starting at $150,000 for the entire six days.

During that time, the challenge prompts TikTokers to make their own videos completing the challenge, which is usually a dance, an athletic feat, or a silly song. The TikTokers then post the video using the exclusive hashtag.

The more people use it, the bigger it becomes. Hiring popular influencers to promote the challenge is best, so their followers contribute their own videos. 

Chipotle launched its first branded hashtag challenge with #GuaceDance. People showed their love of guacamole and did the dance challenge, then posted using the hashtag. The marketing plan worked exceptionally well, with over 1 billion views.


Instagram For Your Restaurant

It’s easy to see why Instagram is so successful in marketing restaurants. 

Chefs use a saying when deciding how to plate a dish: "You eat with your eyes first.”

It’s to remind cooks that when you’re plating food, the first impression of the dish comes when it’s placed on the table. If the food looks good, it magically elevates the flavor as well. It reminds you that you eat with all of your senses.

Instagram lets you eat with your eyes first. 

For example, look at this Instagram post from Le Pigeon in Portland, OR. 

Looks delicious, right?

Now, read the description at the top right of the image.

A lot of the ingredients sound pretty wild, especially to somebody who hasn’t eaten a lot of different foods, but because of this fantastic photo, it’s completely approachable. 

I’m willing to bet that most people who would never eat braised goat scope would take one look at this photo and say I’d like to try that.

For further proof that the dish won’t disappoint, all they need to do is read the comments. The first comment, “That was my favorite dish of the night!” seals the deal.

An inexperienced eater just went through that whole process of wanting to try new food all because of one well-taken photo. It won a new customer, who will probably share this post with their friends, so they don’t have to eat it alone.

Imagine making content every day that could reach people this way—not just a few people, but hundreds and thousands. 

Before we get into how to make this content, whether organic or paid, we need to ensure that your restaurant account is optimized for Instagram. You only need to do these steps once, so let’s do them right away.

These simple steps can make a notable difference in getting people through the door to eat and how much they engage with your page.

Set up your profile correctly.

Your profile contains all your pertinent information—your name, username, address, phone number, hours of operation, profile picture, link to your restaurant website, and contact information.

This sounds pretty straightforward, but let’s ensure you get it right.

When setting up your username, just use the name of your restaurant, like in the example from @staplehouse.

More than likely, though, your restaurant's name will already be taken by another account and won’t be available to use. If that’s the case, just put “restaurant” at the end of your username. 

For example, if @staplehouse weren’t available, they would use @staplehouserestaurant as their username. 

For your Instagram profile name, just use the name of your restaurant. 

Easy, peasy.

For your Instagram Profile Picture, just use your restaurant logo.

People used to make profile pictures of a popular dish or food item, like a hand holding up a cheeseburger, but it’s a better opportunity to use your logo. By using your logo, you can reinforce your branding on people’s memories.

For your Instagram Profile Description, sum up your offer and give a call-to-action (CTA) so customers know how to take the next step.

Talkin’ Tacos does a great example of this:

You can clearly see that they offer authentic Mexican food, with tacos, burritos, and more. There made sure to use a red pin emoji to mark two different locations for convenience, with a CTA to order food for delivery with a link to their website. They even highlight that they are the home of the birria taco, their most popular dish. 

Now that your profile is complete let’s set up your Story Highlights.

Create thought-out Story Highlights

Think of Story Highlights as your restaurant’s greatest hits videos. 

While you don’t need to put all of your stories in your Story Highlights, it’s important to set up categories so as you do create stories, you can plug the best ones into the appropriate spot.

Again, using Talkin’ Tacos as an example, they do a great job setting up Story Highlight categories.

As Talkin’ Tacos creates stories, they can save their best videos to their Story Highlights so potential new customers can get a feel for the restaurant without having to do much digging.

Now that we’ve covered getting your account set up, let’s dive into creating organic content; then, we can see what we get with paid ads. 

Organic Content Strategy

To refresh, organic content is anything you post to your account for free, like videos and photos that users can engage with using likes, comments, sharing, and direct messaging, and you can respond in return.

With organic content, you're at the mercy of the algorithm, and when posting, you have to hope you land in front of potential customers. Luckily, there’s tons you can do with organic content, and Instagramers love finding new food on the app.

The key to killing it on Instagram is consistency. You must treat creating content like every other part of the restaurant. 

Just like making prep lists daily and cleaning the floors, you need to knock out some content. 

You can do this yourself, enlist an Instagram-savvy and trustworthy employee, or hire someone outside the restaurant who specializes in social media marketing.

Either way, get it done.

Ok, let's dive into how to knock your organic content out of the park.

Post pictures of food every day.

Food pictures are the backbone of your Instagram account. It’s the whole reason people want to visit your page. 

You need to post new pictures of food every day. 

The Red Chickz does a fantastic job with its Instagram account. Here’s what they posted this last week.






You get the idea. 

They don’t cover the photos with text about discounts or try to promote special offers. It’s just the food because that’s what people want to see, and how delicious it looks will speak for itself.

While these photos are pretty good, they don’t have to be perfect. You don’t need fancy/expensive equipment. Cell phones nowadays are outfitted with cameras that are more than up to the job.

My fiance used to run an Instagram account for the restaurant she worked at, and she did the whole thing on her iPhone 12.

One of her favorite posts was of people on staff—which brings us to the next kind of content.

Post pictures of staff and the restaurant.

As we covered in the TikTok section above, authenticity is paramount to winning over Instagram users. People won’t connect or engage with likes, comments, and messages if you come across as insincere.

Posting staff pictures is a great way to add a human element to your account. It gives users a face to connect with and reminds them that there are people behind the scenes making all that beautiful food. 

Bestia of Los Angeles, who has amassed a following of over 90k people, does a great job of featuring their staff, giving them praise when due, and revealing work behind the scenes, like in this first photo of a cook working the wood-fired oven.

Here is a picture of their beautiful dining room.

This photo shows the camaraderie and love the staff genuinely have for one another.

Here we see customers enjoying Bestia’s outdoor dining space.

Here, we see several of their workers helping feed people downtown during one of L.A.’s tumultuous times.

And, of course, they always have pictures of food in between the once to twice-a-week posts of staff and restaurant.

Running your restaurant Instagram account this way is the best method—making food posts 5-7 days a week with one to two posts about staff, the restaurant, favorite vendors, charity events, or special news.

Run a promotion every week.

Weekly promotions do two things for you.

  • Bring in new, interested customers
  • Give regulars something to look forward to

There are two approaches to this. The first is doing something like Tuesday ½ off burger nights that you run weekly.

Over time, this deal could affect how people know your restaurant around town. You’ll be known as the spot with great burger deals on Tuesday, and this can be both good and bad.

On the one hand, if there are competitors in your area, the ½ off-burger will make your restaurant the obvious choice. But, if you offer more unique food items besides a burger, the awesome ½ off deal may detract from the rest of the menu, and people only come in for burgers.

The second way of doing a weekly promotion is to offer something different each week. For example, you could do a craft beer night one week.

And the next week, you could do a promotion that isn’t created around a price point but an activity, like trivia.

The idea is that the posts get people talking, and it creates a sense of urgency to get them through the door. 

Reply to every comment. 

Doing this step right here every day will make you stand out from the VAST majority of your competitors. 

Hardly anyone responds to all comments, and it really doesn’t take that long to complete. 

Most restaurants don’t get more than 100 comments a week, and if you’re getting that many, you’re killing it.

Responding to every one of those comments shouldn’t take more than an hour, and they don’t need to be long, drawn-out responses.

Fast responses like these from Talkin’ Tacos are totally acceptable.

Completing these steps for organic content isn’t complicated, and once you get into a groove, you can stretch your creative muscles and figure out new ways to engage your customers. 

Now, let’s look at a paid Instagram marketing strategy.


Paid Instagram Content Strategy

Instagram ads can appear throughout the app, meaning in your user's feed, stories, Explore, and Reels.

Some ads look just like regular posts, but you’ll see a stamp of “sponsored” on the post. There will also be a CTA, a link to a website, and a product catalog, meaning multiple slides within a single post. 

Instagram has 5 different formats for advertising:

  • Image Ads
  • Stories Ads
  • Video Ads
  • Carousel Ads
  • Explore Ads

Let’s take a closer look at each of these ad formats.

Should you use Image Ads?

The answer is—absolutely.

These ads are your standard Instagram ad. You’ll come across these more than any other ad on the app. They are the most affordable option, so if you’re running on a tight budget, begin with Image Ads.

You can put text on the image, but Instagram suggests keeping the text to a minimum and putting all the info in the description.

You can use any style of content you want for Image Ads. If there’s an organic photo that is performing well without promoting it, turn it into an Image Ad. Chances are it will connect with people outside of your organic audience.

Image Ads will have a CTA button on the bottom that can be chosen from a list of generic CTA’s, but it seems the CTA most often used is “Learn More.”

Pronto Pizza went with the CTA “Shop Now,” but I feel like a better CTA would be “See Menu.” 

What are Stories Ads?

Stories Ads are full-screen, paid-for images that show up when a user is scrolling through their stories. Because it’s paid, the ad should be played in front of your target audience. 

Organic Instagram stories will disappear after 24hrs, but paid Stories Ads will run for the length of your ad campaign. For example, if you’re running a special over a weekend, you’ll want to start on Friday, and the ad can run till Sunday, the last day of the special.

I see a ton of Stories Ads. I just scrolled through my personal Instagram Stories, and every 4th post was an ad—which tells me Stories Ads work.

They look very similar to organic Stories, but you’ll see a “Sponsored” text under the username, and at the bottom of the post you’ll see a CTA button.

In this example, we can see a delicious burger stacked high with patties. It’s great because it asks a fundamental question we can all relate to.


They give a very clear CTA where all you have to do is message “YES,” and you’ll get a discount. It’s straightforward and will get people through the front door.

How to use Video Ads.

Video Ads are the future. As social media progresses and the popularity of TikTok grows, other social media platforms will incorporate more opportunities for video.

When creating content for videos on Instagram, you can use the exact same approach that you would use on TikTok. In fact, I encourage you to use the exact same content. 

This is a cool trick that lots of content creators use. Make one piece of content, and run it on all the social media platforms that will use the same format, whether video or photo.  

You get the most out of your content that way, and your branding stays consistent across multiple channels.

Video ads can be used in Stories, Reels, Explore, and the user feed. What this means is you can take one video and use it on Instagram in several different ways depending on how you want to reach people.

Video ads are beneficial because they keep people engaged longer. Putting your message into text won’t be as effective as having a video do the talking for you. 

How video ads will appear will depend on their placement. For example, advertising in the feed will look like an Image Ad but with a video instead. You’ll still see the “sponsored” text in the upper left corner, and you’ll still have a CTA button. 

Most of the ads I see on Instagram are in video format. Usually in the regular feed or in the Stories.

When to use Carousel Ads.

Carousel Ads can be used in either video or image formats. Instagram has the option to use multiple images or videos in one post.

Using a Carousel Ads allows you to cram a lot of information into one post. Let’s say you launched your new autumn menu, and you need to show off the new dishes. You can take a picture of each dish and put it in one post, using your thumb to slide each image over, one at a time.

You’re allowed up to ten pictures or videos at a time, which is plenty of space to tell a story, share a special, or release a new menu.

Should you use Explore Ads?

If you click on the little magnifying glass at the bottom left of the app screen, that is the Explore section.

The Explore section is for users looking to find new and interesting content that is trending or culturally relevant. 

In this picture, we can see how Explore Ads works. Ads in the center column are scrollable photos and videos. If an image takes up ⅔ of the Explore Feed, it’s a scrollable video.

To be honest, I don’t think many companies use Explore Ads. While writing this, I spent a fair amount of time scrolling through Explore and saw only a couple of ads. 

I think the problem lies in so much content crammed into a small space. Unless your image or video can grab attention immediately (which is always the goal), there’s a good chance it’ll get lost in the mix of content.

However, if you have an ad campaign already crushing it with views, likes, and comments, using Explore Ads is a great way to reach more people. 

Facebook Ads

We will not be focusing on creating organic content for Facebook. The algorithm has organic outreach for businesses on lockdown—meaning, if you want to reach new customers, you have to pay for it.

That said, Instagram and Facebook are both owned by the company Meta. Meta allows you to sync both Facebook and Instagram accounts together, so when you post on one, the other gets the post at the exact same time.

Why should you sync up your Instagram and Facebook social media accounts, you ask? 

Because you don’t want your Facebook account to have zero organic posts. 

If you’re running paid ads on Facebook, reaching thousands of people, you don’t want your Facebook account to look like an empty canvas. It gives people photos of what you offer, so they say, “That looks pretty good. I’ll have that,” and your paid ad pays off.

Just follow these instructions one time, and you’re good. People will now see anything delicious or funny you post on Instagram on Facebook.

Now that we know organic content is dead, but it’s still important (and easy to create), let’s dive into the two best ways to target your audience on Facebook with paid advertising.

We’ll cover a Retargeting Campaign and a Local Targeting Campaign to make the most of Facebook Ads.


How To Set Up A Retargeting Campaign

A Retargeting Campaign is an advertising strategy that places ads in front of anyone who has already come across your brand—meaning they’ve been to your website, your Instagram and Facebook page, or anything you have online.

The idea is to constantly (but not annoyingly) place ads in front of them so they are continuously re-engaging with your brand, and eventually, they’ll go out to eat at your restaurant.

For example, if a person visited your website and spent some time looking at key lime pie but never ordering anything, you would assume that you just lost a customer. 

Not necessarily.

With a Retargeting Campaign, you can follow them around Facebook and strategically place ads in front of them (on Facebook) with a link and discount to your dessert menu.

Pretty cool, huh? Now, let’s set it up. 

If you don’t have a Facebook Business Account, you’ll want to go here and get one started.

At first, this might seem a little intimidating and technical, but once you dig in, you’ll see it’s actually quite easy.

If you get stuck, Facebook is there to help find your audience and how to retarget them.

Now, let's start the 5 easy steps to launch your Retargeting Campaign.

Log-in to Facebook Ads Manager.

After you’ve logged into Facebook Ads Manager, at the top left of the menu, click on “Ads Manager.” Once there, go to “Assets,” then click “Audiences.”

Create Your Audience

Click the “Create Audience” button at the top left of your screen, and then click on “Custom Audience.” It’s this button that allows you to set up a campaign for people who have visited your website.

Select Website Traffic.

Now, you’ll click the first option that pops up. It’s labeled “Website Traffic.”

A box will pop up from here that lets you name your “Pixel.” A pixel is the tiny portion of code that Facebook gives you to put in your website. Facebook calls it a pixel because all the information fits in one of the tiny, invisible pixels that make up your screen.

Next, you’ll enter your domain name, then hit “Create.”

Pick Your Target Audience.

From here, you’ll be able to select:

  • “All website visitors”
  • “People who’ve visited specific web pages”
  • “Vistors by time spent”
  • Or a combination of these

After that, you’ll name your audience, and click “Create Audience.”

Once this is done, Facebook will seek out your target audience, and you can then make a custom ad for your audience.

Place Your Pixel Code.

Be sure you’ve done the previous 4 steps because this is where it all comes together to work. 

Go to the “Audience” section of “Ads Manager,” and you’ll find your new targeted campaign there. To the right of the screen, you’ll find your “Pixel ID.”

When you find “Pixel ID,” click on it, and you’ll see “Events Manager.” Now, click on “Manually Install Pixel Code Yourself.”

Now, go to your website’s editor, and edit in HTML mode. This might sound technical, but it’s actually quite simple. If you need help, Facebook will talk you through how to do it. 

You did it! 

You’re done, and you now have the power to target an audience that is already familiar with your brand but just needs a little nudge to get through the door.

How To Set Up A Local Targeting Campaign

As the title suggests, a Local Targeting Campaign means that only people in a specific area will see your ads.

That doesn’t mean that it’s only seen by locals, though; you can also target people who have recently passed through the vicinity of your restaurant.

Why is this good?

It saves you a ton of money and only places your ad in front of people who would find the information relevant.

It does you no good if you own a restaurant in Pasadena, a city just east of Los Angeles, but the only people seeing your ads live in Santa Monica, a city about 40 minutes away on the Pacific Coast.

Technically, both are a part of Los Angeles, but randomly firing off ads in the “Los Angles Area” is like trying to hit a target with a blindfold on.

You want your ads to be hyper-focused on the people who are most likely to come to your restaurant, meaning the people living, visiting, or passing through your area.

With a Local Targeting Campaign, Facebook allows you to hit a radius as small as one mile or as big as 50 miles.

If your brand has multiple restaurants in one city, you can still use a Local Targeting Campaign. You just broaden the radius to include more areas. Or, if there are significant gaps, you can even exclude certain areas that make getting to one of your locations inconvenient. 

In this photo, you can see that a specific zipcode was excluded from the targeted radius. Being able to hyper-target your audience means hitting only the people who will find your ad relevant.

Local targeting is impressive and brings in new customers as early as the first day of the campaign, so this is especially good for time-sensitive ads, like specials and events.

Now, let’s see how we can set up a Local Targeting Campaign.

Facebook wants to make this as easy as possible for everyone; it’s one of the reasons they’re so popular. If you get stuck, Facebook can guide you through location targeting and how to get your audience.

Ok, here are the steps to set up a Local Targeting Campaign.

Log in to Facebook’s Ads Manager.

Once you’ve logged in to the “Ads Manager,” you’ll click “Create” in the upper left corner. After you click “Create,” a screen will pop up that will have to select “Campaign Objective.”

When selecting a “Campaign Objective,” ask yourself, “what is the goal of this ad?” Are you trying to spread awareness of your restaurant, get people out to a trivia night, or are you launching a new menu? 

What are you trying to achieve?

Facebook has a guide to selecting a “Campaign Objective” here.

Select your audience.

After you’ve chosen your “Campaign Objective,” you’ll go to the “Audience” section and click  “Create Audience” on the upper left side of the screen.

From here, you’ll have 4 options to choose from. You can create an entirely new audience or use one you’ve saved in the past. It all depends on the objective of your campaign.

Narrow down your audience.

Once you click “Create Audience,” a screen will pop up with options to create an audience, like age, gender, language, and a section for more details descriptions.

Scroll down to the “Location” section. From here, you’ll want to choose which people you want to target depending on what they are doing in your area.

Most restaurants will want to select “People living in or recently in this location.” This will target not only the people living right by the restaurant but also those who live nearby who come through the area doing errands or traveling to another part of town.

If you own a restaurant that’s in a tourist destination or near a big airport, you might want to pick “People traveling in this location.” If your area is constantly flooded with new people, you’ll want to ensure they get targeted.

Choose your Local Target location.

Now, you’ll choose the specific area you want your ads placed. 

You can decide by country, state, city, zip code, or radius. How many locations you have will determine what you choose, but it’s safe to say you won’t select a city or state. If you do have multiple locations, just make sure the ad is relevant to every restaurant.

Play around with the location options, and once you determine your target area, you’ll be able to see the exact spot you’re targeting and the potential reach of your ad.

Once you have the location parameters in place and have filled out your audience details, click save. 

That’s it!

You now have a Local Target audience to which you can send ads whenever you need to promote your restaurant. It took a little work, but hyper-targeted advertising will be much more successful than just firing off ads on the web with your fingers crossed, hoping for the best.


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About the author

Adam Guild

Adam Guild is the CEO of Owner, a restaurant marketing platform that gives restaurant owners online superpowers. See Adam’s best restaurant marketing tips here.

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