On the Line / Marketing / The Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing [+ 14 Examples]

The Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing [+ 14 Examples]

Your customers are on social media. Here's how restaurants are using social to bring in new customers and engage their current ones.

Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing
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Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing

Learn how to optimize your social media presence to showcase your brand, tell your story, attract new customers, and engage with your audience.

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DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations. You should contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.

Your guests are on social media, and you should be too. Social media is a crucial part of running a modern business, to help you expand your customer base and turn first-time visitors into consistent regulars. 

And, a social media strategy — whether it's as simple as always posting photos of your specials and promotions across every channel, or you're leveling up and promoting your posts on your best-performing platforms — is a crucial part of your restaurant marketing strategy. 

But where do you start? How do you develop a restaurant social media strategy? And how do you effectively promote your restaurant on social media? 

Keep reading to learn more, and hear from some of the restaurants that have mastered their social strategy. 

Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing
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Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing

Learn how to optimize your social media presence to showcase your brand, tell your story, attract new customers, and engage with your audience.

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Why Is Social Media Important For Restaurants?

So what is social media restaurant marketing and how can it help my business? At the most basic level, social media management for restaurants is key to developing and growing your customer base. 

Social Media has affected the way we interact with one another, and it’s changed the way companies in every industry conduct business and connect with their customers. This is especially true for restaurants, which is why having a social media presence is no longer an option: It’s a necessity.

And as restaurant customers become more digitally oriented, it’s critical to establish an online presence and identity that stands out. Here’s what it should achieve:

  • Provide information and open communication with customers

  • Give your restaurant the opportunity to be found online

  • Allow you to share your food and recipes visually online

  • Add professionalism and legitimacy to your restaurant

Nowadays, your restaurant should also be using social media as a channel to keep the lines of communication open between you and your guests in addition to being an effective marketing channel.

How Restaurants Use Social Media

Restaurants use social media to connect with patrons in fun, useful, and creative ways. Here are some of the ways restaurants are using social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and more:

  • Post high-quality items of food

  • Post seasonal, daily, or weekly menus

  • Showcase customer content

  • Communicate with customers

  • Share recipes

  • Show behind-the-scenes shots and videos

  • Highlight employees like chefs, servers, bartenders, and others

  • Share changes in hours or additional locations

How do I make the most of my Instagram?

According to Social Media Today, 30% of millennial diners actively avoid restaurants with a weak Instagram presence. The power Instagram has on consumers’ purchasing behavior is continuously growing. This means that your business’s Instagram is just as important as your website. Some important aspects of your Instagram are your bio, account setup preferences, and aesthetic. 

Think of your Instagram bio as your restaurant’s version of a LinkedIn bio. You want it to be clear yet creative. Your account will be filled with visuals, so you don’t need to be descriptive in your bio- let your pictures do the talking. A great example of an effective Instagram bio is The Meatball Shop’s (@meatballers). “Serving up responsibly & locally sourced comfort food with a healthful twist. NYC est. 2010”. It’s simple, and still gives the user an idea of what they’re all about.

When creating your Instagram, it’s crucial to set it up as a business account. Don’t click the creator or personal account options. When you create a business account you gain access to general analytical insights and more data. This also enables you to create Instagram Ad campaigns and set contact options. 

Lastly, you need a consistent aesthetic throughout your account. When a user clicks on your profile and sees a beautiful array of visually appealing photos, they’re most likely to stay on your profile longer. The first step is to choose your theme, which can be attained by looking on Instagram for inspiration. Consider what you’ll be photographing and what color themes go along with this. Once you’ve chosen your aesthetic, create an editing process and try to keep it consistent for each post. Lastly, consider downloading a fake Instagram grid app (Planoly, Later, or PREVIEW)  to double-check that your posts go together.

How should I use Facebook?

Although not quite as tedious as Instagram, you might want to consider creating a Facebook for your business. Facebook is a great resource if you’re targeting a slightly older market. Your Facebook should also be easier to run, as you don’t necessarily need to post too often and don’t need to be an aesthetic guru. Similar to Instagram, it’s essential to make sure you set up the account as a"Local Business or Place"  and not as a personal account. Add your location, contact information, and website link to your Facebook, as most users will be going to your page for information, not pretty pictures. 

In addition, you should include an online ordering link, announcements of specials/promotions, and a professional cover photo. These are all factors that will give your Facebook credibility, and make things easy for users to find. Try to update your Facebook weekly and join Facebook groups with similar restaurants in your community to stay up to date with the latest trends. 

What is TikTok and how do I use it?

A 2021 study from marketing agency MGH found that 36% of TikTok users have visited or ordered food from a restaurant after seeing a TikTok video about it. TikTok is a short-form video hosting service that’s become wildly popular in the past 3 years. It’s a great platform for your business because 74% of users say that TikTok has inspired them to find out more about a product or brand online. TikTok should be used not only to show off your menu, but also to broadcast your brand’s personality to the world. With video, you have the opportunity to talk to your customers and tell them what you’re all about! Some TikTok best practices for your business are:

Debuting new menu items

Showcasing your dining experience

Participating in TikTok trends

Posting TikToks on Instagram Reels (repurpose content!!) 

Staying active in the comments

Becoming a pro at recording TikToks can take a little while, and that’s okay! The more you practice the better you’ll get, and the good thing is, there’s endless inspiration on the app! Do some exploring and follow other restaurants and businesses that have gone viral. There’s an overload of content on TikTok and you just might be the next trending restaurant if you take TikTok seriously. 

How often do restaurants need to post on social media?

A general rule of thumb is to try to post on your business social media accounts at least three times per week, or you’ll risk losing engagement with your followers. Try to post several times a week and use the tips below to find creative restaurant social media content ideas that are sure to resonate with your audience.

Whether you manage your restaurant's online presence yourself, you’ve delegated the task to a dedicated team member, or you’ve hired someone to be a full-time marketing manager, it's always helpful to get inspiration from other restaurants who are killing the social media game and driving digital traffic to their business.

Here are 14 restaurant social media post ideas to inspire your restaurant’s social media strategy. For each one, we’ll share an example of who did it well, what they did, why it’s awesome, and in cases where it’s a more involved type of post, how to pull it off.

Related Restaurant Marketing Resources

14 Social Media Marketing Tips for Restaurants

Here are some awesome restaurant social media post examples (each with a specific tip about why it works) to inspire you as you get started. 

1. Show Off What’s Behind the Scenes

Who they are: Wave Asian Bistro & Sushi

What they’re doing: Aside from sharing high-quality photos of their deliciously prepared dishes, Wave also regularly shares behind-the-scenes videos and photos from what goes on in the kitchen.

Why it's awesome: These days, restaurant-goers love to see how the food gets made in restaurant kitchens — in fact, there are countless extremely popular YouTube series that spotlight how a restaurant makes a signature dish. You can easily attract new guests by chiming in with photos or a video on social media showing how food gets made in your restaurant. The best part is your kitchen staff are already doing the work that your customers want to see; you just have to film it. 

How to pull it off: Make sure the kitchen is spotless when you film and showcase your most mouthwatering dishes. You can choose to show the whole process of making a dish, and upload it to YouTube, as Wave does, but even a 10-second clip of filleting a fish can be really effective. You want to show off the skills and talent of your staff, and entice new guests to come try your amazing food.


2. Create a Consistent Voice

Who they are: Sweetgreen, national chain

What they’re doing: Sweetgreen has built an iconic brand centered on fresh and sustainable food. Their clean and modern aesthetic is consistent in everything they do — whether you’re on their mobile app, in a store, or following them on social media. The same vibrant photography is used across all their marketing materials, and they use a casual, fun tone. The Sweetgreen brand is recognizable even when its logo isn’t on the screen.

Why it's awesome: There’s no doubt that Sweetgreen thought long and hard about their social media strategy (and probably hired an agency to help). But even without professional help, it’s possible to create consistent messaging and imagery for your business. It extends your restaurant brand beyond the four walls of your location.  







View this post on Instagram









... but would you share burrata with them?

A post shared by  sweetgreen (@sweetgreen) on

3. Respond to Online Reviews

Who they are: Chop Shop, three locations in Colorado

What they’re doing: The managers at Chop Shop are constantly monitoring their Yelp business page. Almost every review has a response, both good and bad, with a personal note addressing the reviewer's comments.

Why it's awesome: By addressing negative reviews and showing appreciation for positive ones, the Chop Shop team has created a transparent and friendly persona online. They're not afraid to talk about their flaws and make a public attempt to improve upon them. The managers use negative reviews as an opportunity to learn about their business and to turn unhappy customers into brand advocates. Even if you're not able to address every post on your review page, it's a good idea to address your disgruntled customers and try to turn that relationship around.



The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Branding
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The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Branding

Use this guide to get tips on how to create a restaurant brand that stands out, attracts customers, and drives repeat visits.

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(857) 301-6002
First and Last Name is required
Phone Number is required
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4. Use Social Media to Drive Email Signups

Who they are: Steak 'n Shake, national chain

What they’re doing: Steak 'n Shake use their Instagram bio to point guests to their email signup — and they add a very tempting incentive: a free “Double 'n Cheese 'n Fries” if they sign up. 

Why it's awesome: Email newsletters are one of the best ways to get to know your guests and to drive repeat visits. If a customer gives you their email, it opens up the wide world of restaurant email marketing: you can get in touch to share coupons, birthday discounts, special events, and much more. Check out 10 Great Examples of Restaurant Email Marketing for more inspiration. 


5. User-Generated Content

Who they are: Condado Tacos

What they’re doing: User-generated content, or UGC, is a restaurant's best friend. UGC is photos, videos, and other forms of content made by your guests that show your brand in a positive light. You can repost any UGC that you find online about your restaurant, as long as you credit the original author in the social media post. 

Condado takes advantage of any and all UGC. “Our guests already take amazing pics of our food and post about Condado to their friends, so sharing UGC is a big player in our strategy. When people see our posts, we want them to crave the food enough to share with friends, talk about how delicious it looks, and then make plans to come dine with us or get takeout,” they said. 

Why it's awesome: In short, your raving fans are doing 95% of the work for you by taking photos of your business or talking about it publicly. By reposting their content, you connect with them and show other guests that you are in touch with your community while letting your customers hear from their peers, instead of from you, that your business is worth visiting. Diners are excited to share their user-generated restaurant content on social media — 85% of restaurant-goers report they’d post about a positive restaurant experience.

How to pull it off: When reposting great photos and other positive content about your restaurant, make sure they’re in line with your brand. Keep it lighthearted, excited, and appreciative of the positive feedback.


6. Spotlight Your Employees

Who they are: Sandwich Hag

What they’re doing: Spotlighting your employees is always a great move on social media. It shows your potential guests that you care about your staff as individuals, and you celebrate their strengths. At Sandwich Hag, owner Reyna Duong employs her brother Sang, who has Down syndrome, as well as many other staff members with different abilities, and many of the restaurant's Instagram posts highlight the team's strengths.

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Why it's awesome: Profiling the people behind any business is a great way to humanize the experience for customers. Posting pictures from "behind the scenes" or sharing funny anecdotes about the staff can make followers feel more connected to the business and the people that make it possible. In the post below, Sandwich Hag goes above and beyond, sharing an important announcement and emotional post about taking time for family and figuring out work-life balance in the industry, accompanied by an awesome photo of Duong and her brother, Sang.







View this post on Instagram









📣🔊Important change starting June 1st 📣🔊 _ @sugar.sang has been asking me to take him to the park. I haven’t been able to, because I’m working. He’s been asking to get back to the Buddhist temple. I haven’t been able to take him, because I’m working. The only day off is Monday, full of restaurant errands and doctor appts for Sang, therapy for my mental fitness, etc etc. _ Sang is also working right by my side, when he’s not at school. We’ve been going non-stop for several years now. _ In a couple of months, we’ll hit our 2 year anniversary of @sandwich_hag brick and mortar. _ We are busier now more than ever. I am beyond grateful. _ With that said, I’ve decided to make a change. For me, for Sang, for my family. _ Starting June 1st, I’ll be open for lunch only, during the week days Tuesday - Friday. Weekends Saturday - Sunday will still be lunch & dinner. _ I recognize that closing during some of your busiest hours isn’t industry norm. When you operate and Chef at your own restaurant, tough decisions are made each day. This is one of them. _ However, putting my family first, is an easy one. Thank you in advance for understanding, and your constant support. _ Love you Dallas. 💕 - @chefreyeduong

A post shared by  SANDWICH HAG (@sandwich_hag) on



7. Ask Questions to Engage Followers

Who they are: Mei Mei

What they’re doing: Improve engagement on social media by asking fun questions and encouraging responses. Followers are more likely to remember the content of the post, like the fact that Mei Mei has a special of sweet corn fritters, if they interact with it in some way.

Why it's awesome: Social media is about more than just telling your followers what's happening at your restaurant. It's also about listening to them. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a great way to create a two-way dialogue with your customers. The question and poll functions on Instagram stories are particularly engaging and fun for potential customers to use. Asking questions can inspire followers to engage with your posts and to interact with you, rather than simply continuing to scroll to the next story, or down the page.

8. Capitalize on Trending Topics

Who they are: Upper Crust Pizzeria

What they’re doing: Social media was abuzz when a vicious Nor’easter named Stella hit Boston, so Upper Crust Pizzeria chimed in on social media using the already trending hashtags (#openinBOS) and a photo of their team bundled up with a local weatherman.

Why it’s awesome: Jumping on topics that are already trending on social media is a great way to increase exposure for your posts, especially if you have a clever take on the topic. This strategy is called "newsjacking", and marketers use it as a way to be seen by everyone following the popular trend. Upper Crust also took this opportunity to show off their staff (see #6 on this list). 


9. Host Social Media Contests

Who they are: Capriotti's Sandwich Shop in Las Vegas, NV

What they’re doing: Everybody loves free stuff! Capriotti's teamed up with a local news radio station to offer a $100 gift card to a lucky winner who tagged their friend in the comments of their Facebook post.

Why it's awesome: There are a million types of contests you can run on social media. They're quick wins for both your restaurant and your fans. By asking guests to participate in fun trivia questions, riddles, fill-in-the-blanks, photo contests, caption contests, or even just by tagging their friends, the restaurant is building rapport with guests and encouraging engagement online.

10. Spotlight your Vendors

Who they are: Donna's Toronto in Toronto, Canada

What they’re doing: Showcasing the vendors who provide the ingredients that make your food so amazing is a great way to show you care about everyone who makes your restaurant great — and helps you reach the clientele of those vendors. For example, Donna's highlights that the bagels in their Reuben sandwich are from a local bakery called Harbord St Bakery — and Harbord St Bakery also shared a post saying that they're providing bagels for Donna's for a special. 

Why it's awesome: Both businesses are driving their raving fans to the other's business — it's a great way to build your restaurant community, in terms of customers and potential collaborators and vendors. Additionally, restaurant clientele loves to know about where the ingredients in their favorite dishes come from, and if you show that you support other local businesses, you can attract new customers that are looking to support their community. 


11. Try Out New Platforms 

Who they are: District Eatz

What they’re doing: Expanding their reach to new social media sites (TikTok in this case!) to reach new audiences and differentiate themselves from their competitors. TikTok has changed the game of how many brands use social media – adding an extra layer of creativity and fun to the social game. District Eatz focuses on posting content following relevant trends and showing users their brand personality. 

Why it's awesome: Their TikTok videos fully encompass the fun and trendy vibe of their restaurant – dressing up staff in popular Halloween costumes (Squid Game-themed cocktails, anyone?), showcasing their new martini flights, and taking full advantage of popular trends and TikTok sounds. District Eatz focuses on creating relevant, timely content that will get noticed by the TikTok algorithm, and has been incredibly successful in doing so. 

“I would say a large majority of our initial growth came from those who discovered us on Tiktok during Christmas time in 2020,” their team explained. “Our team went all-out with the seasonal decor, which highlighted the restaurant ambiance, and featured our seasonal drinks and dishes. When we made our first ‘winter-wonderland’ themed TikTok video, it quickly went viral. The feedback was quite amazing as we received non-stop phone calls for reservations the following day.” 

District Eatz is meeting their guests on each platform, trying out new things, showcasing their personality and brand, and attracting guests.

12. Tell Your Customers the Best Ways to Support You

For restaurants that have never offered any kind of off-premise orders, or are building in a new process, it can help to tell your audience exactly how to order takeout to best support your business.

Who they are: Taylor Shellfish Farms

What they’re doing: Using social media (and video!) to inform their audience about the behind the scenes operation during COVID-19, while instructing customers of the best and safest way to support the business. 

Why it’s awesome: They are speaking from the heart and addressing that this isn’t business as usual, and asking for support and empathy in this difficult time while showing appreciation for the support they’ve received so far.

To say customer communications is difficult during a time of crisis is a given - that's why larger franchises and corporations have entire teams dedicated to crafting the perfect message. However, staying true to your restaurant and acting with empathy and humility will help ensure that your guests know you're making the right decisions for your people.







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Hey folks, Just a reminder to please, please, please order online before you come down to the Samish Bay farm store! Click the link on our profile to find our @toasttab ordering page. We have extremely limited space inside the store, so the quickest, easiest, and safest way to order is online! We also are asking for those picking up to resist the urge to stay and picnic. We are very grateful for your support, but we are an active farm and only have so much parking available for guests and our farm workers. #ThankYou #TaylorShellfish #SamishBay #FarmStore #ChuckanutDrive #SupportLocal #BuyLocal #OrderOnline #Toast #PNW #Weekend #May #Spring #RainOrShine #Retail #TakeOut #Bellingham https://www.toasttab.com/taylor-shellfish-farms-bow/v3 . . . . #TaylorShellfishFarms #HealthyFood #Eats #Oysters #Clams #Mussels #Geoduck #Crab #Prawns #FarmLife #Fresh #Seafood #PNWwonderland

A post shared by  Taylor Shellfish Farms (@taylorshellfish) on

13. Create a Beautiful Page that Aligns With Your Brand 

You take the time to design a wonderful restaurant interior. Show off how great it is on Instagram! Consider your brand guidelines and use the same color scheme to show off your business through pictures. 

Who they are: Cantina Rooftop

What they’re doing: Focusing on their aesthetic, Cantina Rooftop has curated a bright, attractive Instagram page that reflects their bold, beautiful restaurant. They have fierce competition in New York City, but their social media sets them apart. 

Why it’s awesome: This Instagram account reflects how awesome their rooftop is, and visually shows users why they should join them for a dining experience! They post engaging content, organize their story highlights, and keep their followers up-to-date. 

How to pull it off: Go through your brand guidelines, and decide which ones you want to highlight throughout your social media. Take lots of photographs and videos on professional cameras and post pictures that align with your aesthetic. You got this! 

14. Dare to be Unique!

In a world with an extreme surplus of content, be different!

Who they are: Cesarina

What they’re doing: Using social media and their website to tell stories. Instead of just giving their followers visuals, they explain theatrical experiences that could take place in their restaurant. 

Why it’s awesome: It catches users’ attention- you can get stuck on their Instagram watching their videos for hours. They make great use of video and it really helps in their marketing. Their website is completely different from other restaurants' and it works for them.

How to pull it off: Go through your brand guidelines, and decide which ones you want to highlight throughout your social media. Take lots of photographs and videos on professional cameras and post pictures that align with your aesthetic. You got this!


Get Your Restaurant on Social

Restaurants are all about community. Why should that stop when your customers walk out of your doors? Developing a social presence (and being able to correctly utilize it as a marketing channel) carries your community online and allows customers to interact with you even when they aren’t with you. 

While starting and maintaining a vibrant social media network can seem like a daunting task, the bottom line is that it's about people. Social platforms provide a direct line of communication with existing and potential customers. Use these examples of social media for restaurants as inspiration to kick your business's social media marketing into shape. Need more guidance in building a marketing plan for your business? Check out our restaurant marketing plan template below.

Related Restaurant Launching Resources

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Restaurant Marketing Plan
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Restaurant Marketing Plan

Create a marketing plan that'll drive repeat business with this customizable marketing playbook template and interactive calendar.

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