Regardless of the size of your restaurant or chain of restaurants, having Facebook and Instagram accounts are as important – if not more important – as having TV ads or sponsoring local events.

Through incredible marketing tactics such as using pixel remarketing, ads, and organic content, you can quickly gain an edge on your competition and forge meaningful relationships with your followers.

But that all assumes you follow a few key tenets when it comes to mastering Facebook marketing for restaurants.

For starters, take Facebook marketing seriously

It’s not uncommon for restaurants to hand off social media management responsibilities to a young employee on staff or, perhaps, a college student “majoring in marketing.”

We get it – it makes total sense to look to your youngest employees to manage your social identity, doesn’t it?

No, not really. Ask yourself this: would you dish out total marketing responsibilities to that same employee? Would you trust this person to talk with prospects, nurture leads, establish partnerships with local businesses and respond to criticism?

Social media marketing is serious marketing. It’s another channel from which you can project your brand. It requires far more than just quick posts and quirky images.

Restaurants require a digital marketing strategy. It requires forethought and an understanding of the direction you want your brand headed.

Be authentic

Our digital advertising company in Jacksonville almost left this item off the list because we’re tired of that buzzword: authenticity. Of course, buzzwords become buzzwords for a reason. In this instance, being genuine is key to social media success.

It isn’t about pushing your menu all the time. It’s not about highlighting the big sale. It’s about peeling back the curtain and letting your audiences know the people behind the restaurant. This is particularly important with your organic posts. Social posting is about having a conversation, like what a small restaurant in Massachusetts did here:

facebook restaurant ad

They merely posted a picture of a car in their lot (a mighty full lot, we should add, meaning they’re likely pretty popular!).

When it comes to your digital marketing advertising strategies, that’s when you want to push your menus and promotions.

This careful mix of self-promotion and conversation will build your audience while ensuring those audiences actually convert from time to time.

Become a guru of the glass

This is our fancy way of saying – learn how to take good pictures.

Ansel Adams – the famous black-and-white photographer, would marvel at the power of the cameras we hold in the palms of our hands, masked as phones. There’s virtually no excuse for taking poor quality images.

But here are a few tips to consider:

  • Consider using angles otherwise ignored
  • Be mindful of the background of your images
  • Don’t over-filter

Just look at this incredible image from Atlanta-based The Varsity (their restaurant is in the backdrop, as well as inverted within the globe):

the varsity restaurant ad

Social media has made us all hooked on instant gratification, and quick to hit publish. But each image you publish on behalf of your business should be reviewed and, when possible, edited.

If you subscribe to Adobe’s Photoshop/Lightroom Creative Cloud plan, you can actually edit your images on your phone – via the Lightroom mobile app (which is incredibly powerful).

Resist vanity metrics

Let’s be honest: Vanity and social media go hand in hand. Still, when it comes to assessing the value of your restaurant reputation management strategy, certain metrics simply don’t tell the whole story.

Namely, most restaurant (and business) owners we know become obsessed with the number of followers they have.

That’s not important.

What’s important is how engaged your existing followers are. It is far more important to have a smaller number of people who actually engage with your content than it is to have a large group of people who ignore your every post.

Involve your community

One of the toughest concepts for our clients to understand is that their best marketing doesn’t come from them; it actually comes from their customers. It’s a lot like how word of mouth is far more powerful than an ad found on TV; user-generated content is the holy grail of social media marketing.

How can you use this as you market your restaurant on Facebook?

Fortunately, Instagram makes this really easy. Since Instagram and FB are social media siblings, it’s quick and easy to connect your IG and FB accounts. One of the reasons you’d want to do that (aside from posting IG pictures right to your FB page – minus all those hashtags) is so you can share others’ content to your FB page

IG allows your patrons to tag you with their images. It’s what happened here with NYC restaurant Tavern on the Green:

tavern on the green ad

An IG user posted this shot – and tagged the restaurant. The social media manager for Tavern on the Green then took that image and shared it on their FB page.

Make sure to monitor your brand mentions across the web and social media so you, too, can take advantage of this easy user-generated content.

You might also want to incorporate some campaigns to encourage your followers to get involved. “Name our next dish” is a pretty popular strategy.

Tell your story – beyond the food

Let’s say, for example, that your restaurant touts its locally sourced organic food, from farmers nearby. Why, then, would you only highlight the food? Why not include posts, images, videos and stories about the people who bring the food to your tables?

This goes back to being authentic but raises it to a whole new level: think beyond food. If your restaurant was a person, what kind of person would he or she be? Personify your brand so you can create a social identity.

For example, perhaps your establishment is known to be the place sports teams go to celebrate after a win.

Great! Own that role! Take photos of these teams coming to your place. Better yet, once in a while go to the games and show your support (then share it on Facebook).

Believe it or not, people don’t just come to you for the food. They come for the experience. Help them to understand this experience through your FB page.

Organic is just one aspect – invest in your FB page

Facebook ads landing page on laptopDon’t be afraid to invest in ads on Facebook. We’re certain that if you create a targeted ad, focused on a selective group of prospects, you’ll see some incredible returns.

Do you have a newsletter list? If so, you can upload that list to FB to create a custom audience. That way, you can create an ad “exclusive to your newsletter members.” You can then create an ad to non-newsletter members (who follow your page), that encourages them to join your list to get exclusive deals.

You can also use remarketing. Let’s say, for example, someone visits a page on your site that focuses on catering services for business lunches. You can then create an ad on FB that targets these folks with an ad that reminds them of your services. The more they see the ad on FB, the more likely they’ll eventually convert when they need to schedule a business lunch.

Go for the gold

Your Facebook Page is a goldmine of marketing possibilities. Nearly every one of your target audiences – and their friends and family members – have a Facebook account. The average person checks in on FB at least a handful of times each day.

By creating a page built around both organic and paid marketing strategies for your restaurant, you can build a community that your prospective patrons will want to be a part of – both on social media and in real life.