How to Acquire More Diners with Restaurant Facebook Ads

How to Acquire More Diners with Restaurant Facebook Ads

The restaurant industry is its own ball game when it comes to social media. Unlike most products, customers are not searching to buy something they can take home and enjoy for years. Instead, they seek a happy experience that will satisfy their hunger -- a momentary pleasure that creates a lasting memory.

Your social media marketing strategy should reflect those goals. The same digital marketing strategy that works for a car dealership or a furniture store is not going to also work for your restaurant. 

A great way to attract more customers to your restaurant is with Facebook ads that target their food preferences. You need to find ways to use restaurant Facebook ads to your advantage. But how can you do that?

Here are some suggestions, reminders, and creative ways to make that happen:

1. Brand Awareness is Key

Brand awareness is everything when it comes to marketing your restaurant online. Regardless of the type of cuisine you offer, you’re not going to attract new business if nobody knows you exist or where you’re located.

Facebook has an engagement ad campaign that specifically optimizes for “page likes.” In the Facebook world, likes = followers, and you want as many as possible. This campaign allows you to show your target market an ad that invites them to like your Facebook page. If they do, they’ll see a percentage of your posts in their newsfeed moving forward. 

This is a crucial part of establishing your presence on Facebook and building brand awareness in your local community. Gaining page likes will not only help people in your area to know you exist but it will also help garner trust with new customers down the road.

One thing to remember: A "page like" ad has a 90-character limit and optimizes for page likes. This means Facebook shows the ad to people within your target audience who are likely to like your page upon seeing the ad. This likeliness is based on their past behavior.

Boosted posts, which cost money, don’t have a character limit and optimize for post engagement as opposed to page likes. Either option is great for your marketing needs. But some creative twists are essential to enhance either approach. The biggest would be: 

2. Invest in Quality Photos for Your Restaurant Facebook Ads

Photos are an important part of any advertising campaign. But they’re doubly important in the restaurant business. No matter what creative promotional items you add to boost traffic, from live music to daily drink specials, customers are not going to want to eat there unless your appetizers, entrees, and desserts look inviting in your photos.

Take this tip to heart: In the restaurant industry, investing in marketing photos equates to investing in your sales. And when we talk about investing, we don’t necessarily mean money!

You can take a great photo with your iPhone and make it look mouth-watering when you invest the time to edit it properly. Customers do this ALL the time! Just search the hashtag #foodofinstagam and you’ll see what we mean. Let those images inspire you. Using customers' photos to your advantage is a great way to spread positive messages about your restaurant in a low-cost, word-of-mouth manner.

Regardless of whether you use customers' photos or hire a professional (you should do both!), the importance of having enticing food images in Facebook ads and posts on other social media platforms cannot be overstated. Putting money behind a boosted post on Facebook that contains a great photo of diners enjoying your food is powerful for the following reasons: 1) The image alone will make readers hungry; 2) You're spreading brand awareness about your restaurant, and 3) You're implementing trust that others love to eat there. 

3. Use Mouth-Watering Adjectives to Describe Your Food

Don't stop with photos, however. Make sure you create copy that will make your customers hungry just reading it. Replace generic adjectives like, “delicious, good, tasty” with “juicy, tender, and zesty!” You want your customers to be able to envision exactly what they’re missing if they don’t dine in with you.

4. Target the Right Audience with Restaurant Facebook Ads

To get the maximum mileage from your Facebook ads, you must target the right audience. Let’s start with some of the obvious points:

  • Target customers located within close proximity to your location or locations. There’s no return on investment by targeting diners who live more than 100 miles away. It’s a waste of money.
  • Ad copy or images that suggest having an alcoholic beverage must be targeted to customers 21 and older. If not, you run the risk of having the ad disapproved by Facebook.
  • Target customers with interests and behaviors that match your product. For instance, if you serve BBQ, consider looking at other places that serve BBQ in your area and seeing if you can target their followers.
  • Lean on your existing customer base to target potential new customers. If you have an email list of 1,000 or more from your existing customer base, you can upload that list into Facebook to target them directly and/or create what’s called a lookalike audience of them. A lookalike audience is exactly what it sounds like. By uploading 1,000 or more email addresses and telling Facebook, “This is what my customer base looks like. Find more people who look like my customers,” that’s exactly what a Facebook lookalike audience will do.
  • Use retargeting ads. Retargeting can include a multitude of audiences: website traffic, post or ad engagement, existing customer emails, and much more. Retargeting just means showing your ad on a recurring basis to an audience that already is familiar with you in some form.

Staying in front of your customer base online will help them think of you the next time and they’re out and could use a bite to eat!

5. Track Online Orders & App Installs

This last tip has been a game-changer in recent years for restaurant Facebook ads. While the end goal for restaurants is to have in-store diners, there is a lot of money to be made from online orders, whether it is through a website or a mobile app. Both options are trackable and can equate to direct revenue.

Let’s start with mobile apps. You’ve probably noticed big chains like Chick-Fil-A or Starbucks promoting their apps. They give their customers a great incentive to download the app by offering a rewards plan. Generally, if you pay through the app, you get so many points per dollar. Once you acquire enough points, you get a free sandwich or drink. You can do the same thing, on a local level, with your own app.

By placing an app install ad on Facebook, this campaign would allow you to clearly track how many people install your restaurant’s mobile app as a result of seeing your Facebook ads.

If you don't have an app, you could still run a Facebook conversion campaign that allows customers to order online from your website and reveals how many are sent there by Facebook ads. Conversion campaigns do take a little bit of extra setup, but they are well worth the time and effort.

Both the app install and conversion campaigns give you something very tangible to track, expanding your social media strategy past brand awareness. And if you’re able to track online pickup orders, that’s direct revenue for your restaurant!

The Bottom Line for Boosting YOUR Bottom Line

Here's the bottom line when it comes to running restaurant Facebook ads. Yes, these ads can be a little bit trickier for restaurants than they are for other industries. But that doesn’t make it impossible. In fact, a successful restaurant with a desire to grow cannot afford to ignore Facebook as a marketing outlet. With the right, custom-tailored strategies in place, your restaurant Facebook ads are sure to take off. And that will boost your business in a big way.