Article contributed by Kyle Inserra
You need to be on TikTok if you’re a restaurant owner. Period.
Undoubtedly, Facebook and Instagram have played a pivotal role in building brand awareness and creating an impactful relationship with your customers in the past – but the “game” has changed, and it’s time your social media plan does too. This article will explore why your restaurant needs to be on the TikTok platform, the unrivaled opportunity, and some unique content ideas to promote your brand. Let’s dive in!
TikTok is the fastest-growing social media channel on the planet, with more than 1 Billion monthly active users. During the pandemic, TikTokers and restaurants found each other, fell in love, and the content has taken the world by storm. Food and cooking-related videos consistently rank amongst the top 10 content categories on the platform. Some creators have even launched new careers and concepts – making TikTok perfect for restaurants, bars, caterers, food trucks, and coffee shops to attract their core audience and generate new business. And let’s be clear – TikTok isn’t just for kids. The most recent data shows that the platform continues to age up, with the fastest growing segment being users ages 40 and up.
Short-form videos (15-60secs), with customizable filters and effects, paired with trending sounds or music – allow you to get creative. Plus, unlike other platforms, TikTok’s algorithm still has a significant organic reach, meaning a wider audience will see your video without spending any money.
However, and maybe most importantly, understand that this is not Instagram. This means that videos of even your most enticing food won’t get as much traction as on Instagram. The platform and its users like to see a personality (or two) consistently. They want to connect to other users, and your restaurant is the ideal backdrop. And please, don’t stress it – the more genuine and authentic you are, the better. TikTok is also known for being forgiving, allowing your multiple “at-bats” while perfecting your content.
So, let’s take a deeper look into the benefits you can get by leveraging this platform and how TikTok will help your restaurant gain exposure and help you create a community of “raving fans.”
Attract New Customers
First and foremost, TikTok helps you attract thousands of potential customers in minutes. The simple 15-second video created, in a way that highlights your staff, and tells a story, can not only keep your existing customers entertained and engaged but help to attract new ones. Another benefit of the platform is that the content is geolocated, allowing users in your market to see your content more frequently. More people engaged with your video content leads to more conversions in the form of in-house dining or online orders. If fact, one of the first things you should do, is put your direct ordering link or link to your reservations page directly in your bio.
TikTok allows its users multiple ways to engage in your content. When you’re just starting, use those features to connect with accounts similar to yours and watch your audience grow. The best part is – that you don’t even have to have a large following to get a ton of engagement.
Unlike other social media platforms, there are not many restaurants on TikTok. In fact, I willing to bet that if you start making content, and post consistently, you’ll be one of the first restaurants in your market to make an impact. Less competition for that attention is a major opportunity to capture more market share if done correctly.
8 Content Ideas You Can Put To Use Right Now
Hopefully, you’re starting to warm up to TikTok and understand that marketing benefits restaurant businesses. Now, it’s time to discuss the critical components of this article.
How can you promote your restaurant, and what type of content should you post? Of course, these are essential questions, so here are the 8 Content ideas to promote your brand and get a loyal following whose growling stomachs will send them straight to your restaurant or website.
1. Highlight Your Staff
One of the best things you can do is turn your restaurant into a reality show. Highlight your staff, and create engaging content around their personalities and day-to-day responsibilities. You’ll soon start to see that your guest will start recognizing them from the platform, and then when they come in to eat or have a drink, they feel like they already know everyone.
2. Share Recipes & Secrets
Recipes are extremely popular on TikTok; it’s about teaching your audience new things. So, prepare a recipe for your follower of some of your most popular dishes by creating short videos giving step-by-step instructions on how they can make it at home. Don’t worry! No one wants to “steal” your mom’s recipes! They’ll make it at home, reminding them of your restaurant, and then they come to you for the experience.
3. Behind the Scenes
Everyone loves to take a peek behind the curtain. Take the audience on a tour of your restaurant. Film your chef prepping or thinking through a new menu. Show your bartenders making syrup, squeezing fresh juices, and, of course, mixing the cocktails. Another fun one is showing how the staff packs and organizes the delivery and takeout orders—having a large reservation or buyout? Finally, create some content on how you set the table and serve the food – your followers might not even know they can have an event like that at your restaurant!
The smiling faces of your team and the ambiance you portray will make your followers want to come to the restaurant. It’s the easiest and most engaging way to create content.
4. Host Live Events
Once you’ve gained 1,000 followers, you start hosting live events to engage with your followers in real time. For example, you can host a series of classes to teach basic cooking skills, prepare your best seller, run a contest, or help select some new music.
5. Collaborate with TikTok Influencers
Influencer marketing also has numerous benefits. Find a local influencer whom you feel would connect with your customers. Team up with them to create some content around whatever it is you want to highlight. It can be eating your specials, participating in a challenge, or anything both audience and their audience will enjoy. It is a cost-effective & high-impact marketing strategy.
6. Create a Hashtag Challenge
A simple way to generate buzz and interest is to create a hashtag challenge. This tactic can bring the whole community together since it’s familiar and easy to use. Choose the challenge related to the food or drink your restaurant serves, encourage your followers to it, and then challenge others by sharing the hashtag. This content can become extremely popular, especially if you tie in some incentives (i.e., the most creative piece of content gets a free pizza).
7. Share Special Moments
Showing the special customer moments makes your restaurant more relatable. Whether it’s a holiday event, birthday party, proposal, or friends having a laugh moment, record the video of enjoying themselves, put on a trending song, and share it with your viewers to show what they might be missing.
8. Be You.
Ultimately, be your most authentic self, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Tell your followers how you got into the business, why you selected the town or city you’re in, the challenges you’ve faced, and the successes you’ve had. When they comment, be sure to reply. When a piece of content does well, double down. Remember, this is an opportunity to connect with your guest and grow your business outside the four walls of your restaurant – so make the most of it!
A 12-year restaurant veteran, Kyle Inserra is the Director of National Advisory at Zelnik & Co., specializing in the strategic growth and nurturing of emerging restaurant brands nationally. His insider perspective of being a restaurant operator day in and day out allows him to relate to his clients’ ever-changing needs. His expertise includes everything from site selection, lease negotiation, demographic and psychographic analysis, competitor analysis, and zoning regulations. Kyle is also the host of The National Restaurant Owners Podcast, a show focused on bringing value to restaurant owners across the country by sharing his insight and experience with a wide variety of guests. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org