Marketing Your Restaurant On Social Media

January 30, 2024 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

How Social Media Marketing Can Benefit Your Restaurant

Restaurants are back, baby. With the pandemic in the rearview, the industry has entered an era where the phone eats first, pizzas receive Michelin stars, ramen and honey are spicy, and the restaurant game is hotter than sriracha on a habanero pepper. How does a restaurant stand out in a world filled with culinary competition? It’s not enough to have fantastic food, great aesthetic, a clean and welcoming environment, and stellar service — although you’d better have those, too. A strong social media strategy can make all the difference for your business. And, as for any great dish, balance is everything.

It’s important that social media is part of your overall marketing plan. Think of your social media posts as your digital maître d’, welcoming your customers with a captivating personality and giving you a taste of what to expect. It’s your front door to creating a relationship with current and future customers — and, for customers in the Gen Z or Millennial cohort, often it’s their first impression of your brand. So what goes into your restaurant social media marketing strategy? Let’s deconstruct a winning recipe.

The Right Message on the Right Platforms

You wouldn’t sprinkle tajin on your jambalaya or top your ice cream with barbecue sauce. Likewise, you need to populate each social platform with the right kind of content that “tastes” like what Facebook patrons expect. Facebook posts are like comfort food, the meat and potatoes of what your restaurant has to offer. Promotions, special events, operational announcements, and, of course, appetizing food photography. Here again it’s important to strike a balance of authenticity with appetite appeal.

Instagram on the other hand is all about the aesthetic. For IG users, the feed is where “the phone eats first.”

Master the art of capturing mouthwatering food shots for those posts in the same way your followers do – with their phones. Instagram Reels uses an algorithm that behaves more like TikTok, so jump on trends and relating it back to your restaurant, sharing user-generated content, and stay away from anything that feels like you’re selling something. These digital channels are not the place for that.

Tempt your brand audience with behind-the-scenes glimpses, mouthwatering visuals, interactive polls, and engaging captions that spark conversation. Share chef tips, celebrate milestones, and highlight customer experiences. Remember, this type of visual marketing is not just about the food, it’s about the story, the connection, and the community you build around your brand. Using your social media platforms in the same way their users do is key.

It’s All About Engagement

Social media isn’t a one-way street. Don’t think of it the way you think of print or broadcast advertising. It’s more like a telephone than a television. Social media platforms are vibrant marketplaces where interaction is the currency. Respond to comments, answer questions promptly, and encourage your customers to create content. Run contests, polls, and Q&A sessions to turn passive viewers into active participants. Take advantage of technology and analytics: use your customer data to zero in on what’s important to your customers.”

Social media is your digital bullhorn to amplify the buzz around special events, new menu items, and tempting promotions.

Pepper your posts with limited-time offers and share early-bird specials. Offer exclusive deals to your social media followers with content that encourages them to interact — which will increase your engagement. Partner with local influencers to spread the word and reach new audiences. But again, serve them up in the way the platform users expect. And don’t forget the power of hashtags especially on TikTok; they’re the breadcrumbs that embed you in search trends and help potential customers find you.

The Sweetness of Customer Reviews

Online reviews are the modern word-of-mouth. If you’re getting awesome reviews on Yelp, etc., share that with your Facebook followers. And be sure to respond to reviews on your socials (good and bad!) That doesn’t mean posting a standard message on every comment. It’s important to be selective and strategic. Reputation management is a delicate art and it is possible to turn negative customer feedback into an opportunity to improve, showcasing your commitment to a robust customer service strategy. An experienced and savvy social media manager partnered with a seasoned PR team is the secret sauce.

Trends Bring the Heat on Social Media

Stay ahead of the curve by mastering the art of social media trend-surfing. Tap into viral challenges, participate in relevant community events, and adapt your content to seasonal trends and local happenings. And it’s important to cater to the evolving needs of your diners. 

In a post-COVID world, you’ll want to showcase takeaway options, delivery/third-party delivery, online ordering, and customer loyalty programs and trends can help you do that in an engaging way.

Offline Meets Online

Don’t forget the power of synergy! Bridge the gap between online and offline marketing by promoting your social media presence on menus, receipts, and in-store signage. Run contests that encourage patrons to follow you and to post from your restaurant, turning your patrons into brand ambassadors.

Social Media is Not Just A Side Dish

In the digital age, the most delectable meals are served not just on plates, but also on pixels. Think of your online presence as a branch in your overall marketing plan. Adopting an effective social media marketing strategy is the secret ingredient that can elevate your restaurant from ordinary to extraordinary. Embrace its potential, experiment with its flavors, and watch your customer base grow hungrier for the unique dining experience you offer.

MIKE SULLIVAN is president and CEO at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency and a top Dallas advertising agency for digital, social, mobile and user experience. For more about challenger branding, advertising, and marketing, leadership, culture, and other inspirations that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on all of our posts.

For more about LOOMIS, or to discuss how we can help your company succeed, CLICK HERE

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Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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