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The Facebook Advertising Guide for Local Restaurants

Last updated 6 years ago


You may have noticed numerous restaurants jumping on the social media bandwagon, particularly with Facebook, yet very few restaurants know that Facebook advertising involves several moving parts to boost your brand and acquire patrons.  Facebook advertising for a restaurant is not simply posting pictures of your menu items and promoting specials for the week; that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Interested?  Read on…

To be successful with your Facebook advertising, you should implement the following strategies:

1)    Candidness - You need to pay close attention to both negative posts and positive posts.  If you come across any negative comments, make sure you respond immediately on how you are going to solve the problem.  And it does not make a difference whether your Facebook fan has 200 friends or 600 friends; you need to treat everyone in the same manner.  At well-known Chipotle, Facebook posts (whether positive or negative) are usually answered within an hour or two.

2)    Responsiveness You have to engage your fans on Facebook.  Remember, it is a two way conversation, not one way.  Zagat’s social media editor, Amanda Spurlock, explains it perfectly: you should “never underestimate how far the words ‘thank you’ can go” (Drell).  When it comes to social media, picture yourself speaking to a customer at your actual restaurant.  Do you ask them questions, address their complaints, and thank them for selecting your restaurant?  Use this same approach for your Facebook page and you will see positive feedback.

3)    Education Your fans do not want to constantly see, “come visit us tonight!” over and over again.  Guess what?  It gets old.  A key engagement tactic is to educate your fanbase via text, pictures, or videos.  For this strategy, think outside the box.  What makes your restaurant unique?  You could explain the origin of one of your legendary dishes or even show videos on how to cook typical dishes with added flavor (without giving away your secrets, of course!)

4)    Presentation – As a restaurant, you sell food, right?  Show it off to your fans not only with images, but also with words.  Perhaps you have added a new addition to your menu.  Why not describe it initially to your fans on Facebook?  Word of advice: before you upload photos of your food, do a quick review on your cell phone through your personal Facebook page before the final launch on your official restaurant Facebook page.

5)    Excitement As I mentioned earlier, people get tired of seeing the same old message, “happy hour specials tonight starting at 5 PM!”  What differentiates your restaurant from the restaurant down the street?  What is interesting about your food or staff?  Use this differentiation to represent your brand image.  Never underestimate the basics either: if you treat your customers well, they are more likely to recommend your restaurant to their friends and family online and in person.

6)    Showcase Do you know your restaurant is the best and you have press to show it?  Do not forget to share it then!  Press builds credibility for your brand and without it, you will not gain patrons for your restaurant.  Again, going back to the basics here: customer service is everything.  While you could have a lot of great press, when your customer service levels decrease, you can say goodbye to positive press and hello to your public relations team.

7)    Digital SavvyWhile having a Facebook presence is necessary, you should also consider other online marketing tools to communicate with your audience.  Here are some examples:


   Design a smartphone app to make online ordering quick and easy
b.    Create a Twitter account
c.    Have a blog

After you have added to your online marketing mix, make sure these tools are integrated with each other.  For example, your Facebook page should include a link to your blog.

8)    Consistency It is critical that your messages online are consistent offline.  Imagine if one of your most loyal patrons invited her parents to dinner after she saw specials listed on your Facebook page, but it turns out, your social media associate intended the specials post for a different location.  An unhappy customer will not do you any good.

9)    Buzzworthy Using daily deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial can be good for a one time only promotion, but I would not recommend relying on these sites to increase your revenues.  I have heard many stories from advertisers wishing they had not used such services because they were not able to make much profit in the end.  Therefore, tread cautiously.  What you could do is leverage your social media to test its effectiveness.  How can you do this?  On a particular day of the week (say Thursday), post a buzzword that relates to your restaurant and then if a customer walks into your restaurant on that particular night only, they will receive a small percentage off their meal or drinks.  Remember to test different buzzwords to find out what works best for your restaurant.  You will not know unless you try, right?

10)  Captivating – For some people, going out to eat is a treat and something they do not do often, so make dining out at your restaurant memorable for your fans.  Facebook users are human too you know.  Here is a captivating image from Which Wich’s Facebook page:

11)    Gratitude It is especially important to show appreciation for your customers and staff.  When happy customers post about wonderful experiences at your restaurant, thank them for visiting and tell them you will inform your team, who will feel special as well.  Look at your staff as your brand ambassadors, too.  After all, they know your business better than anyone else.  What about negative experiences?  How do you handle that?  First of all, acknowledge it and then:

  1. Take the negative post off your wall
  2. Provide an explanation to the unhappy customer as to why you took their negative post off your wall (ex: “we want to investigate this issue further.”
  3. Apologize for any perceived wrongdoing
  4. Inform the unhappy customer about your solution(s)

12)     Facebook Is Not Twitter – While it may be easy to post from one social media site to another, you have to keep both social platforms separate.  Twitter has a 140 character limit, so posting messages directly from Facebook will not turn out accurately.  And according to Amanda Spurlock, why should someone follow you on Twitter and be your Facebook fan if everything is one and the same? 

13)     Facebook Ad Targeting – Facebook offers advertising based on a consumer’s zip code, so it makes it quite simple for you to target your potential local patrons.

Is your restaurant using Facebook to connect with local possible patrons?  Which of these strategies will you start implementing today and why? 

About Alan Moore: Alan is an Internet Marketing Consultant with ReachLocal Baltimore.  His mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven, online marketing strategies.  He manages over $1.2 million in yearly marketing budgets and has worked with local businesses, agencies and the US government.  Give him a call at (877)655-3438 to schedule a free consultation.

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