Blog / December 21, 2022 / Mary at CloudKitchens

Social media marketing for restaurants: a guide

Ghost kitchen marketing

It’s unlikely to open any social media feed these days without being bombarded by photos of croquettes, cakes, and caviar. (And we’re not complaining.) 

Diners love to share the visually stunning plates they’re about to dig into, and restaurants reap the rewards when they hit the share button on a social media platform. But is there more to social media restaurant marketing than serving up an alluring dish and raising a prayer to the Instagram gods?

In a word, yes. Social media marketing should be a top priority for your restaurant’s overall digital marketing strategy. Learning to finesse Facebook, game Google, and ignite Instagram can open new audiences to your culinary prowess. Dig in to discover how restaurant social media marketing can build and improve your brand awareness to more hungry customers.

Why is social media important for restaurants?

Social media was created with the intention of connecting with friends. Nowadays, however, it’s a space for general information sharing and brand advertising. 

Over 3 billion people have a social media account of one kind or another, with a high percentage of them in Western markets. 

Perhaps only our need to eat permeates our lives as much as social media use (although we’re probably biased). Whatever your opinion on its prominence in our culture, savvy restaurateurs can use these two constants to their advantage. 

Successful restaurants engage with their customers on each social media channel to foster relationships and develop communities around their brand with both new customers and existing customers. Food inventory management is the practice of sourcing, tracking, and expensing every ingredient that a restaurant business uses. Just like product inventory tracking in a retail or apparel store, food inventory must be overseen and measured in a restaurant. 

How will an engaged fanbase support your restaurant? 

For existing customers, feeling like they’re on a first-name basis with their favorite eatery turns a diner into a devotee. They’ll spread the word about your delicious cuisine because they feel an emotional attachment to your restaurant business. And for that, they’ll tell your story and return for seconds—with a group of friends. 

First, however, they need someone and somewhere to facilitate all of this sharing and connecting. Creating a social media profile for your restaurant on multiple platforms provides a space for your customers to be your invaluable brand advocates. 

So how do you begin to tackle social media marketing for restaurant branding? By mastering the three social media channels where your customers are already hanging out:  

•Google
•Facebook
•Instagram  

#1 Get on top of Google 

Google may not be the most conventional “social media” platform, but it's perhaps the most important one to master for brand awareness purposes. Before a customer knows that your impossibly juicy beefy birria exists, they’ll search tacos near me on their favorite search engine. 
 
9 times out of 10, they’re using Google for that search. Make sure that your restaurant business’ information is accurate and up-to-date in Google’s ecosystem to ensure hungry eyes (and stomachs) get a taste of what you offer.  

When perfecting your presence on Google, consider:

Essential information – Make sure your hours, address, phone number, and web links are free of errors. Pay attention to the details, like seeing to it that your location is listed on the correct side of the street. These info bites are your customers' lifeline to your business. They are a beacon of hope that guides hungry, lost diners to their stomach’s salvation.

Reviews – Google and the Internet as a whole have catalyzed social-proof culture. Today, 95% of customers read reviews before buying from a business. So you’d better believe that eaters are browsing yours before they order. When you receive a positive review, thank the reviewer. When you receive a negative one, respond graciously (because the world is watching.) And before happy customers leave the premises, ask them to leave you a review.

Menu and booking features – Google has updated its features in recent years to provide additional resources for restaurant listings. Take advantage of the section where you can upload your full menu to make it easier for customers to peruse your offerings. If you accept reservations, activate the booking tool to draw in customers booking a special-occasion meal.

While Google is often the place where diners will first discover your business, your website is the place where they go to learn even more about your brand. So while you’re updating your Google listing, pop over to your website and make sure that’s updated, too. 

This is no Meta-joke: Facebook is seriously important for restaurants

Facebook is the most-used social media channel on the planet. This makes it a crucial component of any social media marketing plan for restaurants. 

Facebook has a variety of uses, from keeping tabs on your high-school buddies to selling old sofas. For restaurants, it’s a powerful tool for reaching a target audience of potential new customers as well as engaging with current customers in a personal way.

The easiest way to get started with a social media marketing strategy on Facebook is to build a business profile. Like Google, make sure all of your hours, location, and business information are up-to-date. Then, post content! Share information about your specials, stories, and events. 
 
Actively engaging with social media users and fans on your restaurant’s community page is a surefire way to connect with people interested in your cuisine. To keep your Facebook presence flavorful, try:

Being expressive – Facebook is a way to impart your own voice into your brand. Post with personality, not only about food, but about your and your restaurant’s life. Highlighting staff, celebrating wins, and, of course, posting pictures of your culinary creations can show off who you are behind the apron. Customers are drawn to the people behind the magic of brands—especially the ones they love.

Being responsive – Prospective diners who find your Facebook may have questions for you. Meta’s associated messenger service is their avenue to seek answers. Try to have someone regularly monitor messages and respond as quickly as possible. It can get busy behind the line, so setting up automated responses is an effective way to clarify basic questions when no one is available.

Utilizing all of its functions – Just like Google, Facebook can be used to set reservations, show off your menu, and drive users to an ordering page. Get comfortable with using the platform to its fullest, and don’t be afraid to experiment! The likes, comments, and new followers will tell you what’s working and what’s not.

Guidelines for the ‘Gram

Instagram has over 1.3 billion active users sharing pictures of their kids, kittens, and kebabs. That’s a lot of amateur photographers and phone-wielding foodies to connect with!

Since Instagram is all about photos, quality food photography is the top priority on this platform to reach a target audience. Seriously—cups from the world’s largest coffee chains are posted daily with nearly professional framing and lighting. We’re not saying you have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for professional photography, but we are recommending high-quality content only for your instagram marketing. Other users posting about your food is THE ideal to drive more word-of-mouth brand awareness; however, you can't control user generated content. It's up to you to utilize your own instagram posts to gain more followers and build up your social media presence organically.

Photography, like cooking, takes time to master. There are some simple ways to enhance your amateur shots, like:

Decide the moments you want to capture for social media content – Each food is different in terms of when it looks most delicious. A hot bowl of Phở looks most enticing with a thick trail of steam wafting off the top. A batch of cookies needs to cool before capturing their crunchy exteriors. Curate the right moment to capture irresistible food photos.

Optimize lighting – Low light gives food a refined, elegant mystique, while fresh daylight captures plenty of detail. Use lighting as a tool to evoke mood and show off the qualities of your food and brand that you wish to communicate. If your dining room is full of candlelight, low lighting might be best. If you’re rocking a sunlit brunch spot with eggs benedict for days, capture food photos near a sunny window.

Consider your background – It’s not only what’s on the dish, but what’s around it that’s captured in the frame. Playing around with backgrounds gives you an opportunity to display your space beyond the plate. Try different settings, new areas of your restaurant, and various angles. You can always delete the ones that don’t make the cut.

If capturing photos is far outside your bag, don’t fret: Instagram is the most likely channel where fans will take photos for you to help boost your social media presence. The way to encourage that is to provide the most beautiful dishes your customers have ever seen—so that they simply won’t be able to resist letting their phone eat first. means they sold 80% of the ingredients they purchased. 

Cook up photogenic, post-worthy plates with CloudKitchens

You can’t post high-quality photos of your delectable food on a social network without cooking it first. And you can’t cook fantastic food without the proper space and equipment to get the job done.

That’s where CloudKitchens comes in.

Our ghost kitchen set-up has the tools you need to whip up delicious, photo-worthy dishes to help with your brand awareness. And what’s more, our home-baked fulfillment system helps you expand your operation to hungry customers in your area. Hello, new social media followers! 

CloudKitchens provides spaces for you to break into the biz without laying down the costly capital. If you want to start a restaurant and are curious about building your brand without a brick-and-mortar space, consider learning more about ghost kitchen marketing.

When you’re ready to take the leap, contact us to schedule a tour of our kitchens and see why we’re changing the industry for restauranteurs everywhere. Now that’s social proof.  

Sources: 

National Library of Medicine. The future of social media in marketing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 

National Library of Medicine. Role of Social Media Marketing Activities in Influencing Customer Intentions: A Perspective of a New Emerging Era. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 

Harvard Journal of Law and Technology. Google and Search-engine Market Share. https://jolt.law.harvard.edu/  

Tufts University. Social Media Overview. https://communications.tufts.edu/ 

National Library of Medicine. The Use of Facebook Advertising for Communicating Public Health Messages: A Campaign Against Drinking During Pregnancy in New Zealand. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 

National Library of Medicine. Effect of Online Reviews and Crowd Cues on Restaurant Choice of Customer: Moderating Role of Gender and Perceived Crowding. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 

University of Maine. Social Media Statistics Details. https://umaine.edu/ 

New York Film Academy. 5 essential tips for great food photography. https://www.nyfa.edu/ 

GlobeNewsWire. Brand Rated: "Nine out of ten customers read reviews before buying a product" https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2022/01/13/2366090/0/en/Brand-Rated-Nine-out-of-ten-customers-read-reviews-before-buying-a-product.html  

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