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In 2022, if your restaurant isn’t using social media marketing, you’re missing out on a ton of potential customers. Social media is free, easy to use, and has a massive reach; therefore, it should be a part of your restaurant’s marketing strategy.
Facebook is the largest social media site in the world, with nearly 2.5 billion monthly users. The social media platform’s mission statement is to allow its users to stay connected to friends and family, but it is also a great tool for businesses.
For restaurant businesses, Facebook offers access to a massive network and a data goldmine. Globally, 200 million businesses use Facebook’s business tools.
An example of what Facebook’s Business Manager interface looks like. Source: Facebook, 2022
Anyone can set up a business page on this social media platform, and the set-up can take a matter of minutes. Once your business page is complete, you can begin marketing your restaurant to the ideal target market. With a Facebook business page, restaurants can then choose to either boost a post or create an ad campaign.
Using Facebook’s business tools is a must for a restaurant business’s marketing toolkit. With so many active users on the platform, it is a no-brainer for attracting new customers.
Benefits of Using Facebook Ads
As a business, you’ve likely considered paying for a social media ad before. You’ve also likely asked yourself, “Is it worth it?”.
The answer: yes.
For starters, restaurant owners and marketing managers have the option to either boost a post from the business page, or create an ad that is not associated with any published page posts. Ads are typically the best option for restaurant businesses looking to drum up more business and attract new audiences.
By creating a new ad, you can test out several options and make changes to the ad copy and creative components throughout the duration of the campaign (you don’t have this flexibility with a boosted post). Additionally, Facebook ads allow for detailed targeting to the right audience.
Overall, ads garner most interest, have more of an immediate impact, and achieve specific campaign goals.
The blue curving line shows the overall trend of how much might be spent on an ad from day to day. The green hexagons represent what might actually be spent on a given day. If your daily budget is $10, then Facebook would never go over $70 within a seven day period. Source: Facebook, 2022
After creating an ad, you can then choose to spend as much or as little as you want on Facebook ads, ensuring that you stay within your restaurant’s marketing budget. The daily minimum for a Facebook ad is $5, and you can choose the duration of how long you want your ad to run for.
Using Facebook ads, however, may not seem worth the money if the ads are not set up correctly. The key to Facebook ads is knowing what strategy you want to use, the outcome you want, and who your target demographic is. Luckily, Facebook’s business manager offers plenty of tools to ensure.
As long as you take your time setting up the ad, have a clear objective in mind, and know your target audience, Facebook ads can be a key part of your restaurant’s digital marketing plan.
Potential customers likely use Facebook.
As previously stated, Facebook has 2 billion active users each monthly. No matter what your target market is, you will have access to this demographic on this social media platform. Within these 2 billion users, your business has the opportunity to connect with current customers, new customers and people interested in your business or organization.
Facebook offers a wide range of goals you can select for your ad campaign. Source: Facebook, 2022
Ads tailored to your specific goals.
Before deciding to commit to a Facebook ad, consider what your marketing goals or long-term goals are for your restaurant business. Do you want to increase your brand awareness? Show your ad to as many people as possible? Send potential customers to your website? Whatever your goal is, Facebook allows you to set an objective for your ad.
Local ad targeting.
Although there are a massive amount of users on Facebook, you don’t necessarily want to market to all of them. Facebook allows businesses to set up local ad targeting to ensure you are only marketing to potential customers in your area. You can select what city or region you are located in, and select a mile radius of how far beyond your precise location you would like to market to. Or, you can select broader options, like advertising to certain countries and states.
Restaurant Facebook Ad Strategies to Consider
If you are considering using Facebook advertising, start to consider what strategy you will use to achieve your desired goal.
Location targeting is key.
If your restaurant is located in Austin, Texas, you don’t want to waste your money and show your Facebook ad to diners in Los Angeles, California. Therefore, before you even create your ad, you’ll need to determine what geographical location you want to advertise to. Facebook makes it easy to configure location targeting and marketing to the right customers. On the Ad Manager platform, enter your restaurant's zip code, and possibly neighboring zip codes around your restaurant’s location. How far would customers be willing to drive to your restaurant if they saw an ad for it?
Set goals for ads.
What is your overall objective for creating an ad? Ideally, the objective of your ad aligns with your restaurant’s business goals. A boosted CTA (call-to-action) button can encourage Facebook users to make reservations, buy products, or visit your website. Boosted posts can highlight special dishes or events. A customized ad can draw more customers to your restaurant’s website and drive traffic to your loyalty program.
Target current customers.
It is more difficult to attract new customers, as opposed to customers who have already eaten at your restaurant before. If a customer has enjoyed your food and appreciated the dining experience at your restaurant, an ad serves as a reminder for them to go back. Business owners can upload email, text marketing, and online ordering lists directly to Facebook’s ad manager platform. Facebook then matches these lists to users, and allows you to show ads directly to this audience. These types of ads are often the most affordable, and often receive the highest amount of interest.
Another option for engaging with current customers is using Facebook pixel on your website. This is a great option for potential customers who haven’t signed up for an email list or loyalty program, but have visited your website. By installing the ad pixel on your website, it lets Facebook identify your website visitors so you can target them with an ad. After a few months, you’ll have a large target audience of people who are interested in your restaurant.
Lookalike audiences can find you new customers.
If you’ve already run a Facebook ad in the past and it seemed to have performed well, you can try using the Lookalike audience feature. Facebook creates the ideal target audience for your ad, showing your ad to those who are highly likely to dine at your restaurant. If you have customers that follow your business page or are a part of your rewards program, you can upload this as the source audience that Facebook uses to find similar customers.
In this example, men in Seattle between the ages of 22 - 55 years that listen to Fox Sports Radio, watch ESPN, like the Mariners and the Seahawks are being targeted to. The reach of this audience is 94,000 men. Source: 39Celsius, 2021
Target specific interests.
If you are a vegan restaurant that specializes in raw food dishes, then there is no point in showing your ad to meat lovers. On the flipside, vegans don’t want to see ads for your BBQ joint’s new rib special. Just like choosing the right geographical location, choosing Facebook users that have specific interests is key. You can choose to show your ad to users that have “liked” specific pages. If you are a hip new bar targeting Millennials, there’s no reason for Facebook users under 21 to see your ad; selecting the correct age group is also key to reaching the right audience.
Test different ad formats.
Setting up a Facebook ad is rather straightforward - so why not try creating and running multiple at the same time? Instead of setting one aside and forgetting about it, consistently monitors its performance. Based on one ad’s performance, you might want to try creating an ad with a different format, such as video ads, single image ads, or carousel ads.
Ensure ads look good on mobile.
You might have a killer ad that looks fantastic on a computer screen, but have you checked to see what it looks like on a mobile phone? About 98 percent of all Facebook users access the platform on their phones. It’s fine if you end up designing your ad on the computer, but be sure to check out the appearance on different screen sizes. It will likely look different on an iPad or mobile device.
Highlight employees, your food and customers.
Your restaurant’s food and overall experience is what matters most to the customer, and this will determine if they’ll be back again. You can use Facebook ads to highlight your restaurant’s employees, food, and your most loyal customers. Take the time to take tantalizing photos of your best dishes (or hire someone to do so if it's in your budget) and highlight these in your Facebook ads. Service is a huge part of the customer experience, and sharing about why your employees are so great is encouraging for guests to come in. Giving a shoutout to loyal customers that your staff loves helps build a sense of community.
Sweetgreen is known for its seasonal menus, and featured here is the Chicken Chimichurri bowl for spring. Source: Sweetgreen, 2022
Promote specials and seasonal dishes.
When your restaurant adds new menu items, you’ll want your customer base to know about it. To keep things fresh, plan on adding seasonal dishes and specials to your restaurant’s menu throughout the year. This helps bring back regular customers, as well as new ones.
An example of a restaurant contest from a P.F. Chang’s Facebook ad. Source: Sprout Social, 2020
Consider contests and coupons.
To give potential customers even more incentive to try out your restaurant, consider offering contests or coupons. A special two-for-one deal or 25 percent off a meal coupon are tempting enough to draw customers in who have never even heard of your establishment before. Set up a social media contest where users must repost something from your business page to be entered to win a free meal. Offering these deals for a limited time increases the urgency, and encourages customers to come in sooner than later.
Highlight live entertainment and events.
If your restaurant hosts events for special occurrences or holidays, this can draw in both current and new customers. Or, if your restaurant or bar is playing the Super Bowl or other big sports game, this can be a huge sales driver. With seasonal events, you’ll need to prepare several weeks in advance; other restaurants will almost certainly be running ads for their own St. Patrick’s Day party or Valentine’s Day dinner. Certain times of the year or holidays will play nicely to restaurants of certain cuisines. For example, Mexican restaurants will attract a lot of patrons on Cinco De Mayo, while ice cream parlors will capitalize on the summer season.
Testing and Analyzing is key.
Even if your first Facebook ad doesn’t quite measure up to all of your expectations, don’t be afraid to try again. If your ad performance was above and beyond your expectations, take note of what you did here, and how you will apply this to your next ad. At any point during your ad campaign, you can put it on pause, and choose to change your targeting options. Looking at metrics from your ad campaign performance can help you optimize your next ad. How high was the engagement? How many customers clicked through to your website? Consider your original goals and budget, and if your ad met these expectations. .
In such a competitive and saturated space, restaurant marketing can be a very difficult task. Your business is vying for the attention of new and past customers amongst multiple competitors located in your geographical region. One way to directly reach your target market is via Facebook ads. Facebook has the most users out of every social media platform, and with its business tools and ad manager platform, it can be the best way to attract your ideal customer and reach your marketing goals.