10 Examples of Awesome Social Media Marketing for Restaurants

Social Media Marketing

Social media is an essential part of running a modern business. To get your restaurant noticed, you must make your social media marketing efforts stand out from those of your competitors.

For many restaurant operators, managing social media profiles is just another item on the increasingly long list of to-dos. For others, social media is a priority in their business development and something they’ve built into their restaurant marketing plans.

As selected by pos.toasttab.com, here are 10 best-practice examples to inspire your restaurant social media strategy and apply to your own business:

1. Create a Consistent Voice

Who: Sweetgreen

What: Sweetgreen has built an iconic brand on the fresh and sustainable food ideology. Their clean and modern look is consistent in everything they do — whether you’re on the mobile app, in-store, or following them on social media.  It’s subtle, but Sweetgreen uses only lowercase letters on social media, consistent with their app, logo, and website. The same vibrant photography is used across all marketing materials. The Sweetgreen brand is recognizable even when their logo isn’t on the screen.

Why it's awesome: There’s no doubt that Sweetgreen thought long and hard about their social media strategy. Even without professional help, it’s possible to create a consistent message and imagery for your business. It allows your brand to become more than just a place to eat food, enabling guests to relate to your business outside mealtime.

2. Respond to Online Reviews 

Who: Paris Creperie

What: The managers at Paris Creperie constantly monitor their Yelp business page. A Paris employee responds to every single review, the good and the bad, with a personal response addressing the reviewer's comments.

Why it's awesome: By addressing negative reviews and showing appreciation for positive ones, the Paris team has created a transparent and friendly persona online. They're not afraid to talk about their flaws and make a public attempt to improve upon them. It's a good idea to address your disgruntled customers and to try to turn that relationship around.

3. Share Customer-Generated Content

Who: Pieology Pizzeria

What: Using the #MyPieology hashtag, Pieology social media followers get a chance to be featured on the large brand’s social media pages. Pieology is constantly sharing customer photos on all their social media channels.

Why it's awesome: Pieology is turning their customers into valuable brand ambassadors by sharing their comments and photos online. By acknowledging these posts and encouraging them with the #MyPieology hashtag, Pieology is creating social proof for the brand and generating a backlog of social media content. It’s essentially free marketing!

4. Offer Exclusive Coupons to Social Followers

Who: Pieology Pizzeria (again)

What: When Pieology fans in Irvine, CA share a photo of their pizza on social media with the hashtag #MyPiology, they’re sent a coupon for free cinnamon sticks.

Why it's awesome: Pieology gets a second shoutout here because this location is taking the next step in encouraging customer social media engagement by offering an exclusive deal to customers who share online! According to a study from Whaleshark Media, 74% of active coupon users indicated that they would be likely to try a new brand if they received a coupon or promotion code.

5. Ask Guests to be Evangelists

Who: Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio

What: Monteverde won Chicago Eater’s Restaurant of the Year because of their unapologetically adventurous Italian food and support of local fans. They used social media to spread the word about their Eater Award nomination and directly asked patrons for their support. Clearly, it worked.

Why it's awesome: You work hard to develop a relationship with guests when they’re in the restaurant. Social media is an opportunity to capitalize on those relationships and let them help build your brand. If guests like your product & are connected with you online, followers will be happy to support the business. Bonus points to Monteverde for sharing other people’s posts on Twitter, creating social proof that they’re a great spot.

6. Spotlight Your Employees

Who: Mei Mei Street Kitchen

What: Mei Mei was founded by three siblings and has since developed a reputation for award-winning food and staffers that they treat like family. Mei Mei has made put their staff at the center of their brand.

Why it's awesome: Profiling the people behind any business is a great way to humanize the experience for customers. Whether or not your team is winning awards, posting pictures from "behind the scenes" or sharing funny anecdotes about the staff can make followers feel more connected to the business and the people that make it possible.

7. Ask Questions to Engage Followers

Who: Which Wich Superior Sandwiches

What: Improve engagement on social media by asking fun questions and encouraging responses. Followers are more likely to remember the content of the post, like the fact that Which Wich now offers Ultimate BLTs, if they interact with it in some way.

Why it's awesome: Social media is a dialogue, not a lecture. It's about listening to your followers as well as informing them. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a great way to create a two-way dialogue with your customers. Ask questions like "fill in the blank," "what is your favorite item?" and "what item would you like to see on our menu?" to inspire followers to engage with your posts and to interact with you rather than simply continuing to scroll down the page. Which Wich, which topped the charts for social media engagement in Q1, uses Twitter polls to engage social media followers and show off their fun brand.

8. Capitalize on Trending Topics

Who: Upper Crust Pizzeria

What: When social media was abuzz with a vicious Nor’easter named Stella that hit Boston, Upper Crust Pizzeria chimed in on social media using the already trending hashtags (#openinBOS) and a photo of their team bundled up with a local weatherman.

Why it’s awesome: Jumping on topics that are already trending on social media is a great way to increase exposure for your posts, especially if you have a clever take on the topic. Marketers call this strategy "newsjacking" and use it as a way to be seen by everyone following the popular trend. Upper Crust also took this opportunity to show off their staff (see #6 on this list). 

9. Host Social Media Contests

Who: Capriotti's Sandwich Shop

What: Everybody loves free sandwiches! Capriotti's uses fun games like caption contests for food coupons to engage followers. They select a winner for the most creative comment and send them a coupon to use the next time they visit the restaurant.

Why it's awesome: There are a million types of contests you can run on social media. They're quick wins for both the restaurant and the fans. By asking guests to participate in fun trivia questions, riddles, fill-in-the-blanks, photo contests (see Example #3), or caption contests, the restaurant is building rapport with guests and encouraging engagement online.

10. Use Video to Bring the Brand to Life

Who: Il Primo Pizza & Wings

What: Il Primo posts a video about once per week to promote new specials, a local sports game, or an upcoming fundraiser. They use video to show what’s life is like “behind the scenes” and build a fun, family-friendly brand.

Why it's awesome: The team at Il Primo is proof that you don’t need a professional marketing team to make a splash with video on social media. The 6-location pizza group uses budget-friendly services and even their mobile phone cameras to shoot video and share with their social media followers.

While starting and maintaining a vibrant social media network can seem like a daunting task, the bottom line is that it's about people. Social platforms provide a direct line of communication with existing and potential customers. Use these examples of social media for restaurants as inspiration to kick your business's social media marketing into shape.