So You Want to Start a Restaurant TikTok?
You’ve probably heard that your restaurant should start a TikTok. But have you really heard why—or what you should do to actually get started?
Sure, it’s got a billion people using it every month, but it’s not just a popularity contest. Your restaurant should be on TikTok because TikTok users love restaurants!
More than half of all TikTok users who have visited a restaurant they saw on TikTok say they did so just because they thought the food looked good, or because the restaurant’s TikTok showed off a unique menu item. When your restaurant posts, people aren’t just entertained—they want to come in and experience your restaurant for themselves.
TikTok is a social media platform uniquely suited for organic discovery, meaning you can put your restaurant in front of a lot of new people without paying big bucks for restaurant marketing. But where do you start if you want people to discover your restaurant on TikTok (and ultimately turn them into customers)?
Here are some pointers for figuring out what to post and getting started on TikTok.
Find Your Restaurant’s TikTok Voice
Not sure where to start, or not sure you know how to do it “right?”
Here’s the good news: you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. In fact, unlike the heavily edited, highly curated restaurant marketing glamor shots you see on networks like Instagram, TikToks are popular in large part for their authenticity. (More on that in a minute.)
The other good news is that restaurants are goldmines for the type of content that thrives on TikTok—the stuff that users near you are gobbling up the most, and that influences how they choose things like where they go out to eat.
One of the reasons that so many restaurants get such good results from TikTok is that they share content like:
Hey, it’s obvious because it works—and you already know that you eat with your eyes before you take your first bite. TikTok users love seeing a beautiful plate of food as much as anyone, and by now, you probably know a thing or two about pointing your phone’s camera at a work of culinary art.
Here’s where you get to start doing things a little differently from other social networks. Behind-the-scenes videos shine on TikTok, where users love to watch master craftspeople do their work. Don’t just show off the finished product—get some footage of your signature dishes being prepared and give people a peek at how the magic happens.
People want to know what to expect from a restaurant’s ambience. Upscale or casual? Cozy or spacious? Modern or old school? Show off your restaurant with TikToks that reveal its highlights—the bar, the seating, the overall aesthetic and vibe. It’s just as important as the food you serve!
Remember what we said about authenticity? TikTok users love seeing the people that make a place special, so if you have staff members who are comfortable appearing in your restaurant’s TikToks, give them a chance to shine by capturing candid moments or participating in viral trends.
Engage Your Audience
TikTok is a classic “learn by doing” platform—especially because you won’t know for sure what types of content perform best for you until you start actually posting.
Once you’ve cooked up a few ideas, here are a few tips for actually creating and sharing a completed product:
While regularly sharing new TikToks will help you build momentum, don’t burn yourself out, either. Try to post something a few times per week, but don’t feel pressured to upload daily, even if that’s what brands with dedicated restaurant marketing teams are doing.
Unlike users on other social networks, nine out of ten TikTok users say that audio is vital to their viewing experience. Whether you’re capturing the sounds of your restaurant yourself or simply choosing the right soundtrack to your TikTok in the app, keep in mind that the vast majority of viewers will have their volume up.
There’s no universal formula for what makes a restaurant’s TikToks find an audience, so don’t be afraid to throw different things at the wall to see what sticks. Experiment with different formats and styles, and see what people respond to—you won’t know until you try.
Pay Attention to Trends
The most successful TikTok creators are TikTok users—not people who only open the app long enough to check their own mentions. Spend a few minutes each day scrolling through videos so you can get a sense of what other people are creating and find fresh inspiration.
Make Your Content Discoverable
Just like on other social networks, hashtags can make your restaurant’s TikToks easier for users to discover—just use them sparingly (no more than a few per post). TikTok users can also browse videos that use the same audio, so setting your uploads to a popular track will help them find an audience, too.
Scale Over Time
Let’s say you’re getting the hang of this TikTok thing. You’ve got a list of ideas, you’ve started shooting and uploading TikToks, and maybe you’ve even picked up a few new fans already.
What you do next is going to go a long way toward making this a sustainable and scalable restaurant marketing resource for the future:
Templatize Your Work
You’re not always going to have a lot of time and energy for coming up with new ideas—and when that happens, you want to have tried-and-true backups you can rely on. Maybe every week you showcase a new cocktail, or a fresh look at your dining room vibes. Develop repeatable routines so when the time comes for you to post, you’re not starting at square one.
Pay Attention to What Works
Remember what we said earlier: you won’t know what an audience will like until you try. And on top of that, you won’t know what they like unless you pay attention. Keep an eye on the responses to your restaurant’s TikToks—what attracts the most engagement? What gets the most views? When you find something that works, stick with it!
Make It Timely
Some TikToks stay relevant for weeks, or even months, while others have a much shorter lifespan by design. Use yours for timely restaurant marketing announcements like promos and specials to encourage the people who like your content to follow.
Teaming up with local power users and influencers can help you expand your reach quickly, but they aren’t your only option! Reach out to your restaurant’s existing partners, like Seated, and see what opportunities they may offer for promoting you to their own audiences.
Restaurant marketing takes time on any social network when you’re just starting an account, so don’t give up if your TikToks don’t appear to be finding an audience as quickly as you’d like.
Keep creating, keep trying new things, and keep an eye out to see what works!
And check out the Seated TikTok account to see what kind of content performs well with hungry diners.
Looking for more ways to market your restaurant online?
Reach out to the team at Seated for a full consultation and a personalized strategy for getting more guests in the door.
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