social media marketing for restaurants

Social Media Marketing for Restaurants – A Complete Guide

December 03, 2014
Josh Light

You’ve finally finished your website for your restaurant, but you’re not sure how to drive people to your flashy new digital presence.

In this guide we’re going to teach the basics for getting your restaurant going with digital marketing.

We’ll cover:

  1. How to make yourself visible on search engines like Google.

  2. How to set up social media accounts that bring in customers.

  3. How to manage your social media accounts.

Following this guide will help you dominate your competitors online.

Making Your Restaurant Visible on Google

The art of making your restaurant appear in a Google search is called search engine optimization or SEO. Most of the “how to” articles about SEO that you can find online are going to be way too advanced for what your restaurant actually needs (so ignore them).

If your restaurant is a local business then all you’ll probably need is to be listed on various review sites. Simply listing your business on these sites will greatly boost your visibility to search engines.

The two sites you need to sign up for are Yelp, and Google Places.


yelp logo

Yelp is a popular app people use to find places to eat. It has over 60 million registered users, and over 20 million reviews posted.

A couple of tips for using Yelp:

  • Do some research on your competitors before setting up your profile. Compare restaurants with 4 or more stars with those that have less than 3 stars. Try to figure out what the 4 or more star restaurants are doing right.

  • Completely fill in your profile. You want to make sure that you’ve listed a website, phone number, and an address. Add some quality photos that will get people salivating over your food.

  • Use customer reviews for testimonials on your website.

  • Use negative reviews to improve your business.

  • Respond to customer reviews. People will love you for it.

Google Places

google places

Google Places will make your restaurant visible in Google Search, Maps, and Google+.

A couple of tips for using Google Places:

  • Register as a “Local Business or Place”. This will give you the opportunity to insert the address of your restaurant.

  • Edit your page information to include a description of your restaurant. Be sure to include links to your social profiles in this section too.

  • Fill up your photostrip with images of your food. These images will appear underneath your page’s name.

Bonus: If you want to go the extra mile then you should consider signing up for Urbanspoon, Yellow Pages, and Foursquare.

Setting Up Your Social Media Accounts

The two main social media sites you need to sign up for are Facebook, and Twitter.

Setting Up Your Facebook Account

Facebook has over 1.23 billion active users. Having a Facebook Page for your restaurant will give you access to this massive audience.

Bonus: Need help setting up your Facebook account? Check out this article, “How to Set Up a Facebook Business Page in 3 Simple Steps“.

A couple of tips for setting up a Facebook Page for your restaurant:

  • Choose “Local Business or Place” when you create your Page. This will allow you to add interesting information like store hours, price range, and even your menu.
  • Don’t use your personal profile for your restaurant. It’s against Facebook’s rules, and will get your profile deleted.
  • Consider highlighting food in your cover photo. You want to make people excited about eating at your restaurant when they visit your Facebook Page. If you need help customizing your cover photo then you should download our PowerPoint template.

Setting Up Your Twitter Account

Twitter has over 232 million users. Not having a Twitter account prevents you from accessing these people.

Bonus: Check out this article, “21 Ways Small Businesses Can Benefit From Using Twitter“.

A couple of tips for setting up your Twitter account:

  • Include a link to your website on your profile. A ton of businesses forget this critical step. You want people to visit your website so they can learn more about you. Don’t lose customers by not including your website in your Twitter bio.
  • Use your Twitter header to highlight your food. A Twitter header is a Facebook cover photo for Twitter. If you need help customizing your Twitter header then you should download our PowerPoint template for creating a custom Twitter header.
  • Write a great Twitter bio. Check out this article for more information, “How to Write a Professional Twitter Bio“.

Managing Your Social Media Accounts

One mistake I see a lot of business owners make is to spend too much time on social media. This is the last thing you want to have happen as a restaurant owner.

Social media can be boiled down to 4 things:

  1. Finding stuff to share.
  2. Maximizing the visibility of the stuff you share.
  3. Responding to people.
  4. Automating as much as possible.

Finding Stuff to Share

At Redbird we have years and years of social media management experience. One of the most time intensive parts of managing social media is finding content to share. You can easily spend 70% of your time doing this because only 20% of the content you share should be about your restaurant specifically.

huge mistake we see a lot of business make online is to only share their content. Businesses that do this are like the guy at the party who talks all the time, and doesn’t let anyone else speak. When you only share your content you come off as narcissistic, and that’s a big turn off.

On Facebook you should be sharing at least 3 times a week. On Twitter you should be tweeting at least once per day. If you adopted this posting strategy then you will need 10 social media posts per week.

Take some time to find blogs, or local news from your community to share on Facebook and Twitter. When you find a source that produces consistent quality content then you should bookmark it. Check your bookmarked sources everyday for content. When you find something you think is “share worthy” put it in an Excel sheet for later sharing.

Bonus: If you need ideas on things to share then you should check out this post, “50 Facebook Status Update Ideas for Small Businesses“.

Maximizing the Visibility of the Stuff You Share

Sharing stuff to your social networks isn’t enough. You need to make sure that you’re optimizing each post so it reaches the most people possible.

Here are a few tips for maximizing the exposure of your posts:

  • Use images. On Twitter we’ve found that including a picture with your tweets increases clicks by 144%. Consider including pictures in the stuff you share to Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Use hashtags. People are monitoring hashtags all the time. By including a hashtag you’ll expose your content to these individuals. Take some time to find hashtags that are being used locally. For example, when people tweet about Salt Lake City they generally include the hashtag #SLC.
  • Post at the right time. People aren’t always on Facebook, and Twitter. Post to Facebook between 6-8 a.m. and between 2-5 p.m. Post to Twitter between 1-3 p.m. These time recommendations are based on aggregate numbers so they won’t accurately reflect your audience perfectly.
  • Mention influencers. When you craft a post consider mentioning people who are influencers in that area. Doing so will send a notification to the influencer that you mentioned them. This will cause them to check out your post, and will increase the likelihood that they’ll share it.

Bonus: If you need help finding influencers then you should check out this article, “How to Find Influencers on Twitter“.

Responding to People

Listening to people is a big part of social media that most people miss. When you get a message from someone online take a moment to respond.

You have two options with responding:

  1. You can designate a time to do it everyday.
  2. You can set up your accounts on your mobile device, and respond as messages come in.

Both options work great. If you’re just starting you may consider going with option 1. If you go with option 2 make sure that you only have one Twitter account on your mobile device. A huge mistake people make is accidentally sharing a personal tweet on a business account. You don’t want to be that person.

Automating As Much As Possible


Automation is a huge part of any digital marketing strategy. Automating your social media will allow you as a restaurant owner to focus on what you do best…running your restaurant.

Restaurants don’t need a bunch of complicated tools to be successful on social media. The only tool you really need is one that helps you find, share, and optimize content.

We built a free social media management tool that helps you do all of these things from a simple interface. It’s called Redbird Queue. Redbird Queue is like having a full time social media manager. It helps you:

  • Schedule things to share to Facebook, and Twitter so your social media can run itself while you focus on your restaurant.
  • Find articles to share that are related to your restaurant or industry.
  • Help you figure out the hashtags you should use in your post that will get you the most visibility.
  • Help you figure out when your Twitter following, and Facebook fans are online so that your posts get seen by the most people possible.
  • Find influencers in your industry so that the people who can help grow your restaurant the most are aware of your existence. Big plus.

It may sound complicated, but it’s really simple…plus it’s free. Try it out.

Can you think of any other digital marketing tips for restaurants? Feel free to comment below.

(Photo Credit: Flickr via Kim Scarborough)