A Restaurant Owner's Complete Guide to Social Media

A Restaurant Owner's Complete Guide to Social Media

So you’ve opened a new restaurant and are eager to spread the news. You’ve probably posted a few blurbs on social media... maybe even created an event on Facebook -- but are still looking for a steady stream of hungry customers.  Good news: the solution is simple and we’ve outlined it for you below.

If you are completely new to the world of social media, this guide is for you. Welcome!  We will show you how to utilize social media platforms to drive traffic to your business. This guide will help open the doors to a world of likes, followers, and hashtags… and as a result – customers.

In this guide we will discuss the following:

  • Platforms – the media in social media

  • Mapping your audience and message

  • Building an effective campaign

  • Optimizing your profile(s)

  • Effective timing

  • Promotions that work

Know the Platforms:

There are four digital marketing platforms which are most effective for marketing restaurants: Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, and Instagram.

Yelp manages to incorporate all the major features needed for both customers and marketing team on a simple and user friendly interface. By including a delivery service and OpenTable integration as well as allowing customers to review their experiences, Yelp has proven to be a restaurant owner’s best friend in terms of marketing potential. 

Facebook, with features such as Facebook Ad Manager and geo-tagging, illustrates a more technical advantage in terms of monitoring and analytical tools. Restaurant owners can depict which demographic they plan to target based off of attributes such as age, location and interests. Open communication in the form of reviews, comments and ratings allow customers to give feedback on the restaurant's strengths and weaknesses.

Foursquare, although not as intricate as Facebook or Yelp, allows restaurant owners to share promotions and media on offer to the customer. This often comes in the form of incentives based off of checking into the location for promotional gifts such as discounts and complimentary food or drinks.


So much can be said in a simple snapshot. Instagram can help capture food and drink lover’s attention and can be utilized to highlight any fun features of a restaurant. Being a heavy hashtag platform as well, a restaurant can find every mention made of them on Instagram (i.e.#restaurantname) as well as #foodie. Instagram is a great platform to engage a younger target audience as well as the burgeoning “foodie” demographic.

Once you have an understanding of the influential social media platforms available, you now can focus on building an effective social media marketing campaign. 

Mapping Your Audience and Message:

Most social media sites suggest branding your restaurant to everyone and anyone within a certain mile radius, however we have found that this isn’t the best marketing strategy when opening up a new restaurant or broadening outreach to the digital market. In order to really define “who” your audience is, you need to define “what” your message is first. 

There are three common essentials involved in defining one’s message: 

  1. the customer perspective,

  2. the internal perspective and

  3. the marketplace perspective.

With the customer’s perspective, you need to reveal what is ultimately important to them when they go out to eat. Are they more satisfied with a high energy atmosphere? Or would they enjoy a more slow paced and intimate dining experience? We recommend talking with your customers and find out what their ideal dining experience would be.

In regards to the internal perspective – consider the following: What is your message for your restaurant? Is it portrayed through the atmosphere of your restaurant currently? How in tune with your staff are you? Do they understand your message? What is their opinion on the restaurant’s message? By opening up communication and appreciating your staff, your message will run more smoothly throughout the entire atmosphere. Finally, try looking at how you are perceived by your competition. Is your message distinct? What clearly distinguishes you from the competition? Are you highlighting that in your message? 

Create an atmosphere unique to your restaurant.

Create an atmosphere unique to your restaurant.

By having a clear-cut and precise message you will easily be able to market yourself on the digital marketplace and, in turn, attract your target audience. 

Optimizing Your Social Media Profile

Make sure your social media profiles are effective by having pertinent information easily accessible. For example, highlight specific courses or drinks that emphasize the message of your restaurant using images and videos, add a “Book Now” button for your customers’ convenience, and encourage “checking in” on Facebook/ Instagram/ etc. by offering special promotions. Other descriptive elements are also available, and essential, for your social media profile(s) include: an online menu, services rendered (good for kids, good for groups, takeout), and reviews. By implementing these tools, you will instantly become more accessible to your social media audience. 

If you have more than one location, this can seem complicated. You may be wondering how to distribute equal amounts of time building a social media foundation for each.  Don’t fret. The great thing about social media is that multiple profiles are easily accessible and simple to curate off of a parent social media profile. By marketing the new branch on the parent profile and making a separate profile for the new branch, you can convert followers and have crossover between the two branches. Using video and images to highlight and showcase the key elements of the restaurant will be great tools to help build a social media following and steady flow of patronage. 

Starbucks showcases new products on their Instagram page with great visuals.

Starbucks showcases new products on their Instagram page with great visuals.

After building a social media following, the next challenge is transforming “likes” into a profitable stream of patronage. The key here is finding the right balance in terms of promotional posts. Try to use engagement as an alternative to promotion.  Talk to your customers. Ask them questions about products, services, and decoration.  People like to give their opinions, and doing so creates an inclusive, community-oriented feel.  By opening the door and engaging your customer base, you can foster a sense of community which will result in repeat customers and also draw more patronage. 

Effective Timing For Social Media Posts

Depending on what the theme of your restaurant is, there are certain times in the day – and year -- that are more effective, in terms of posting, than others. For example, if you want to emphasize some or all of your bar or drink selection, you will want to schedule your post around 5 pm when your followers are getting off work. Again, knowing your audience is fundamental.  When you know your target audience, you can cater to their schedule by posting meaningful content at the best times... for them. 

Using Social Media Promotions:

What social media strategies is my competition using and how do I take my restaurant social media page to the next level?  

Here are some effective marketing techniques other restaurants use to promote their companies.

Collaborate With another Chef or Bartender for a Meal

Collaboration can also be extended to food bloggers and foodies.

Collaboration can also be extended to food bloggers and foodies.

Collaborations are effective and beneficial to every party involved. By working with an existing restaurant or chef in the same vicinity of your restaurant, you will promote your product as well as that of your collaborator in a fun, natural way.

Feature A Social Media Influencer

Take advantage of nearby social media influencers (i.e. food critics, social media bloggers, local chefs) and highlight them and their experience to promote your product. If you run into a local Food Blogger with a popular social media following, ask to feature them on your posts to illustrate the popularity of your restaurant, item etc.

Live-stream Video Feeds

Stream parties, Q&A sessions with chefs/ bartenders and discuss new promotional items on live-video for your social media following. By including the live video stream, you are personalizing the engagement you have with your social media audience.

Create Specific Social Media Space

If you have certain aspects of your restaurant that are Instagram picture worthy, emphasize them! Come up with unique and fun hashtags for your customers to use. Create a space for your patrons to come and not only enjoy themselves and the food but allows them to share their experience in a unique and creative way. 

Create your unique hashtag so your audience can connect with you on Instagram easily.

Create your unique hashtag so your audience can connect with you on Instagram easily.

How Can I Use PosterMyWall to help with Marketing?

With PosterMyWall, you have a wide variety of templates and options to create unique ads or promotional posters for your restaurant. Use PosterMyWall as a HUB for your own unique pictures of your restaurant and incorporate them into your social media marketing. By using a custom and creative template from PosterMyWall, you can really include a level of personalization that isn’t found in other products. Use these templates to stay engaged with your audience and the feedback received from your marketing campaign.

Now that you have the tools and information needed to really follow an effective social media marketing campaign, add your own creative touch and highlight those elements that make your restaurant stand out from the competition. By maintaining a relationship with your target audience, setting campaign goals, and monitoring your results; you will be able to distinguish yourself as a restaurant that not only cares about good food but also about good customer service in person and through social media. Have fun!

Using Shapes in Designing

Using Shapes in Designing

Artist Corner: Myron Boyd

Artist Corner: Myron Boyd