Popular social media channels offer businesses a digital and social marketing campaign outlet. MGH, a full-service marketing and communications agency for franchise restaurants, sought to determine the level of influence the increasingly popular platform, TikTok, has on users within the restaurant industry. Their findings indicate that TikTok can be an incredibly useful advertising tool if used properly.
There are currently 65.9 million monthly active TikTok users in the United States and 1 billion global active users, and the app is consistently listed in the top 10 most downloaded apps. The research conducted by MGH to examine its effect within the restaurant industry, asked 700 U.S. residents, all TikTok users, to complete a survey. Their findings concluded that 36% of TikTok users have visited or ordered food from a restaurant after seeing a TikTok video about the restaurant, and 45% of those surveyed said they would be interested in visiting a restaurant in a different state based on a TikTok video, 35% claimed to have already done so.
“These findings are especially significant when you consider the size of TikTok’s user base. Not only does it have a massive user base, but it continues to explode in popularity. For a third of users to say that they have taken an action within a certain industry shows how powerful this platform could be for the restaurant industry,” says Ryan Goff, EVP, Social Media Marketing Director at MGH.
MGH has had TikTok on their radar for the past couple years. “We started experimenting with TikTok in 2019, but at that time it was the new kid on the block. Once Covid hit, we started to see TikTok content everywhere. Even Facebook and Instagram feeds were filled with TikTok content, so it was clear that not only were more people consuming content on the TikTok platform itself, but also resharing this content on other bigger channels drawing more people into the TikTok sphere.” Goff recalled the initial hesitation of clients to use TikTok as a marketing tool, “Most people considered this a platform for teens to create funny dances on, but in a very short amount of time, TikTok’s content and the platform itself, evolved to be more appealing to a much broader demographic.”
The platform requires an adjustment period from the restaurant’s marketing team to experiment with the video structure and identify that special aspect of the restaurant to highlight to entice customers.
“You are rewarded based on engagement, so the more you understand the videos that are already getting engagement, the stronger your content is going to be, and the more of a chance you are going to have success.”
The video content can take a number of different approaches. It might be a chef making a signature dish, a behind-the-scenes preview, a highlight of the restaurant’s atmosphere, or any other aspect of the restaurant that makes it unique to its competitors. “The key to TikTok is making sure you don’t feel like an uninvited dinner guest, but part of the TikTok community by understanding the video style,” explained Goff. As for time length, shorter is typically preferred, anywhere from 15-30 seconds, but TikTok allows for videos up to two minutes, and the longer lengths have not limited those videos’ popularity.
The time required to adjust to this new platform is a small price to pay considering the limited or lack of expenses required to create this content. “I recommend clients come in with a $0 budget. Based off what I have seen and how TikTok’s algorithm works, if a restaurant has the right product to stand out in the feed, and does it in a way that grabs users’ attention to spark engagement on the app quickly, TikTok is going to reward those videos by showing them to an enormous and growing audience. TikTok has plenty of examples of people with zero followers suddenly going viral overnight, so there is no need for a restaurant to come in with a huge investment. I would encourage them not to, so they do not get turned away from the platform. Come in with a small or no budget at all to experiment with the platform and see what kind of organic traction you can get,” said Goff.
A copy of this research including the questions and responses can be found through MGH. For more insights, visit the survey page on their website.