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Social Media Advertising for Restaurants

According to The National Restaurant Association, as of 2018 there were over one million restaurant locations in the U.S. While quality digital content and positive restaurant reviews deliver results, even the best restaurants struggle to compete in a market this saturated.

It is important to rank when potential restaurant guests search the Internet for dining choices. But your restaurant’s broader digital reach matters depends on other digital channels as well. Today, social media users often bypass the regular search engine route all together, skipping Google in favor of their favorite app.

Do you have to pay to play?

The short answer is yes.

If you’ve noticed your restaurant’s organic reach is falling, you’re not imagining things. According to LinkedIn, organic reach on Facebook slipped by a staggering 53 percent in 2016. Matters were only made worse for businesses when the world’s most popular social platform refigured its algorithm in 2018 to limit business and brand exposure.

Since Facebook owns Instagram and instigates social trends, restaurants and brands can expect other social platforms to follow suit.

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO »

Where organic reach falls short, paid social media delivers.


Aumcore research revealed that, “Consumers visiting a site through a paid ad are 50% more likely to buy than an organic visitor.”


According to Manifest research, “Nearly all (92%) small businesses plan to invest more time and money in social media in 2018.”


A Sprout Social media study showed, “75% of people have purchased something because they saw it on social media.”

An affordable option with big benefits

Adding paid social media to your advertising budget can actually be the most cost-effective option for generating interest in your restaurant, as long as you use the audience targeting tools effectively. Because of its built-in data-gathering capabilities, paid social media also gives you comprehensive return on investment (ROI) by raising your brand presence and providing valuable insights at the same time.

Data and key metrics collected can include click through rate (CTR), likes, follows, and, if you’re able to track through to an actual booking, overall revenue. These insights give you a much clearer idea of conversion rates than you’d ever be able to get from traditional advertising models such as TV, direct mail, and billboards.

Find the foodies you want

One of the biggest advantages of paid social marketing is the ability to get hyper-specific. A billboard can’t pinpoint your specific potential restaurant guest, but a social ad can.

“If you want to tailor a Facebook ad to a single user out of its universe of 2.2 billion, you could.”


Social Media Promotions

Here are a few targeting tips for achieving maximum reach:

  • Personalize and identify your audience profile
  • Reference existing metrics
  • Join your email marketing list to your Facebook ad campaign
  • Aim your ad to target your existing following
  • Go small — narrow your ad pool by income, age, or location. Tweak your audience settings to gain further insight into your customer profile
  • Enable Google Analytics and add the Facebook Pixel to your site

Which social platform should you use?

The best strategy is a multi-page approach that allows you to maximize your content with each platform’s individual capabilities and strengths. if you don’t have the resources available to advertise on every social media platform, pick and choose the ones that most naturally align with your restaurant.


As it’s owned by Google, you can use the same ad management platform for YouTube as pay-per-click and display advertising.


The most popular platform also has the most specific targeting opportunities. Data from Wordstream suggests: “The average click-through rate (CTR) for Facebook ads across all industries is 0.90%.”


A foodie paradise, Instagram boasts the highest engagement of all social networks. A great opportunity to share your employee experiences, seasonal menu changes, and specials.


The recipe-heavy platform allows you to use paid social media to leverage your restaurant’s board with sponsored content to elevate your visibility.

Some of the paid social advertising options you might want to consider are:

Promoted Stories

Embrace vertical media formats with ads that have a short lifespan.

Mixed Media

Test out audience reactions to videos versus static images or just plain copy.


Offer meal discounts, or deals to give a sense of urgency to checking in to your page.

Boosted Post

Get your Tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram picture to the top of the feed.

To the inexperienced eye, navigating paid social media can be confusing. But with a modest budget and a bit of practice, it’s possible to put together a plan that will have new customers lining up at your restaurant’s door.

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