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In 2022, the TikTok hashtag #food reached over 300 billion mentions. With over 1.2 billion monthly active users, your customers are on TikTok – and you should be too. If you want to get your business seen and grow your customer base, TikTok just might be your solution. Don’t let the Gen Z dances and smooth transitions intimidate you, with a little practice you can be a TikTok pro (and maybe even the next viral restaurant.)
In this article about using TikTok to promote your restaurants, we’ll walk you through:
What TikTok is
Why it’s important for your business
How to use it
9 real examples of restaurants successfully using TikTok
Let’s get started!
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a short-video hosting platform where content creators, businesses, and personal accounts post a variety of different types of videos. The diverse content on this app ranges from recipes to dancing videos and everything in between.
TikTok’s success can be attributed to its outstanding algorithm. This algorithm is a system that places videos on your “For You Page” that are recommended specifically for you. This makes TikTok a personalized experience, with one section of videos from users you follow and the other section of videos from recommendations. This personalization is what makes TikTok a great place for businesses – you don’t need a massive following in order to get noticed.
Why is TikTok important for restaurants?
As we’ve talked about, TikTok’s reach is massive and it’s only getting bigger. Posting TikToks about your restaurant is an effective way to reach new customers, as 36% of TikTok users have visited or ordered food from a restaurant after seeing a TikTok video about the restaurant.
TikTok is especially a great tool for your business if you have unique items on your menu. In fact, a study found that 55% visited a restaurant from TikTok because the food looked appetizing, but 51% visited because of a unique menu item.
TikTok can also bring in customers outside of your direct area. One-fifth of users who visit a restaurant from the app have gone to a different city, and 16% have gone to another state to visit a restaurant from the platform.
In addition to this, content creators have a massive impact on consumers’ buying decisions. If you can reach an influencer, a person with a substantial social media following that influences users’ purchasing decisions, the chances of going viral only increase. Top influencers have millions of followers, but consider reaching out to micro-influencers as well – they can also make a substantial impact.
How to use it
Create a TikTok business account and add your restaurant name, logo, and link your website in your bio. Editing video footage may seem intimidating, so keep it simple! Some suggested content to film and post is:
Give a restaurant tour
Introduce some of your staff and what they do
Show off both new and classic menu items
With permission, capture satisfied customers on video
Teach your followers a new recipe
Tap into TikTok trends and post one of your own (this is key to going viral)
Make sure you use popular TikTok sounds in the background (also major key!)
Show off new specialty cocktails and your bar
In terms of how to film on the app, there are loads of tutorials and articles to help you. Consider familiarizing yourself with these sources- some of our favorites!
Lastly, use the equipment that works best for you. If you want to film on your iPhone camera and that’s what you’re comfortable with – use it! If you are a perfectionist and want to use a professional camera – go for it! If you decide to master the TikTok app and use its camera- good for you! There are many different tools and techniques to help you film. Do what works best for you and your restaurant.
10 examples of restaurants that successfully use TikTok
Here are some awesome restaurant examples that have nailed the TikTok game to inspire you to create your own.
1. Use Comments to Your Advantage
Unfortunately, social media isn’t always a kind place. With this being said, people are likely going to comment negative things on your content. However, how you choose to respond to these comments says a lot about your business, and handling negative comments with grace is essential. And, the more engagement you receive on a post the better it will perform, regardless of if the comments are positive or not. When a user comments something negative (or positive!) you can ignore it, delete it, comment back, or respond to the comment with a new video.
The Red Chickz located in Downtown Los Angeles responded to this comment that suggested their chicken sandwiches are too small by making a huge chicken sandwich. This video is at 12 million views now. The Red Chickz most viral video currently has over 20.6 million views – looks like a success to us!
@theredchickz Reply to @nonstopeats happy national chicken sandwich day bro #fried #chicken #sandwich #theredchickz #losangeles #dtla #sauce #pickle #roborockrun ♬ OKAY SHAWTY - Kwe the Artist
2. Show Off Unique Menu Items
Not only are people naturally attracted to unique, mouth-watering menu items, but they like to see how they’re made. Showing off a special or your star dish on TikTok is a great way to get new customers into your restaurant.
Krazy Cup Munchies Bar has four locations located in California, and this video of its crazyyy pineapple currently has 4.9 million views.
@krazy_cupmunchiesbar What is the red stuff? 😳 #krazycup #anaheim #downey #latinasbelike #foodiemobbb #chamoy #losangeles #mexicanmemes #hispanicsbelike ♬ positions - Ariana Grande
3. Be Real With Your Audience
People appreciate authenticity. Tell your story. If your restaurant is struggling or just trying something new – let your followers know. Being real will bring in customers.
Cupid’s Hot Dogs has been serving hot dogs in Los Angeles since 1946 and went viral on TikTok after being authentic with their hard work to stay afloat during the pandemic. This TikTok has almost 100k likes and over 6.4 million views.
@zengazenga We thought we were gonna lose everything. Roller skating saved us, and work has never been more fun #cupidshotdogs#carhop#sanfernandovalley ♬ original sound - Adam
4. Run A Giveaway
Running giveaways is a great way to increase engagement on your page, as it requires action from your followers. Try something like, “win a $50 gift card: to be entered in the contest follow our account, like this TikTok, and comment your favorite menu item of ours”. The more people like, comment, and follow, the more your account will naturally appear on new users’ For You Pages.
JoJo’s Shake Bar showed off its beautiful space and ran a gift card giveaway to put their new business out there!
@chicagofoodfinds It’s giveaway time! 🙌🔥 with @JoJo’s Shake Bar visit our instagram to enter. #chicagorestaurantreview #chicagorestaurantguide ♬ About Damn Time - Lizzo
5. Use Trending Sounds to Boost Views
One unique factor about TikTok is you don’t actually have to use your own video audio. This is a perk for restaurants that are commonly loud. Instead, you can film a great TikTok and then use a sound that’s already trending on the app. This saves you editing time, as you don’t need to find a cool song on your own and edit over the original audio. Users can even discover your restaurant just by going through videos using a sound they like.
The Slice Factory, located in Illinois has a very engaging TikTok account with almost 50,000 followers. One tactic they use that has worked out in their favor is the use of trending sounds in their videos. For example, this video uses the popular Olivia Rodrigo song, 10 Things I Hate About You to boost views.
@theslicefactory Reply to @kuyyannunu Now this is what we call “Revenge pizza” #chicagopizza #slicefactory #chicago #exes #relationshipproblems #chicagosuburbs #revengepizza #bolingbrook #part2 ♬ 10 Things I Hate About You - Leah Kate
6. Share a Recipe
We know you can’t share every secret ingredient you use, but showing your followers how to cook something themselves can boost engagement and add authenticity to your page. Set up your camera and show them how to make a recipe from start to finish – don’t forget to edit out some takes so the video isn’t too long.
Pizza & Culinary posts videos regularly on how to use their pizza dough and cooking best practices.
@pizzaculinaryacademy #stretch #dough #doughstreching #doughball #doughballs #FilmTeyvatIslands #godfather #clemenza #pizzamaking #pizzatok #thatshowyoudoit #tiktoktaughtme #tiktoktaughtmethis #chicago #pizza #tiktokmademetryit #pizzafromscratch #doughboy #foryou #fyp ♬ Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice
7. Tell Your Story
How did your restaurant come about? Is it family-owned, black-owned, or woman-owned? Is it a small, local restaurant or do you have a few locations? Let your audience know how your restaurant was started and what you’re all about!
Detroit Wing Spot started as a dad’s dream and now it's a Detroit staple. This video successfully shows the build of the restaurant and what an exciting process it’s been!
@detroitwingspot #greenscreenvideo still a long way to go! #resturant #blackowned #supportsmallbiz #fyp #fypシ #foodie ♬ original sound - Cav’s Content
8. Introduce Your Staff
If it’s okay with your staff, make a video introducing them on TikTok. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. You can film individual intros, one big one, or film them around the restaurants and add captions. However you choose to go about it, make it fun for your staff!
The White Bull located in Atlanta introduced their staff in this TikTok in a comedic way using the “problems” trend. This light-hearted video introduces the staff while also following a silly trend. This gives their restaurant both a face and familiarity, and shows off their personality.
@whitebull_atl Our staffs problems #fyp #restaurant ♬ Pennies From Heaven - Remastered - Louis Prima
9. Team Up With Influencers and Foodie Accounts
As we mentioned earlier, influencers have a lot of power on TikTok. People love to follow foodie influencers to discover new restaurants. Making a deal with a foodie influencer is a pretty simple process. Message the influencer on social media or through their business email, and offer them a free meal at your restaurant. They’ll do all the filming and will tag you on their account. Easy!
My Diet is Trash is a popular Boston foodie account with about 58,000 followers on TikTok. This video showed off Lucy’s American Tavern and offered a gift card giveaway to promote the new brunch spot.
@mydietistrash The cinnamon roll pancakes are a must. #brunchboston #bostonfoodies #bostonfyp #restaurantboston #dorchesterma #lucysamericantavern #restaurant ♬ original sound - Crossfader
Practice Makes Perfect
TikTok may seem confusing, but the more you practice in the app the better you will get. You can also use TikTok as a tool for inspiration. See what other restaurants are doing, follow local food accounts, and get involved on the app. Don’t expect to go viral on your first video, but also note that it may happen when you least expect it, and you never know what video will take off.
Remember that putting the effort in and getting your restaurant out there is an accomplishment in itself. Go make some TikToks!
Planning your restaurant promotions with a budget in mind will help streamline your success now, and later.