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TikTok Marketing for Restaurants




TikTok has quickly risen from a social media app for pre-teens posting viral dance videos to a critical marketing tool for small businesses. Reaching 500 million monthly active users in year one, TikTok's growth has only skyrocketed since then.


For restaurants, creating engaging, creative, viral videos on TikTok can result in more than just a larger following. Creating a marketing strategy that incorporates this trending channel can lead to a broader customer base, new audiences, and boosted sales.


If your restaurant isn’t already on TikTok, now is the perfect time to begin leveraging this effective marketing tool and watch how quickly it can help convert views into dollars.




What is TikTok?

TikTok, an app-based social media platform in which users post short videos accompanied by music or narration, originally rose to fame when users in droves began posting imitation dance videos that instantly went viral. TikTok is a fast-paced app. The second you log in, you see a video at the top of a feed that's algorithmically curated around your interests.

  • Much like other social networks, TikTok relies on an algorithm to show users videos based on other videos they’ve engaged with.

  • TikTok’s location feature makes it simple for local businesses to show up in restaurant searches.

  • The platform’s unique sounds feature differentiates content from other social media platforms.

  • Sounds double as a discovery tool, allowing users to tap a sound tagged in a TikTok video to find other videos that use the same sound.

Tip: Experiment with popular TikTok hashtags to help you brainstorm social media content ideas and help users find you.




Why More and More Restaurants Are Leveraging TikTok

If you’re new to the platform, you may be asking yourself what viral dance videos have to do with restaurants. Restaurants are incorporating TikTok into their social media marketing strategies for a number of reasons.

  • Attract new customers. Roughly one in two millennials and two in five have visited a restaurant after seeing it on the platform.

  • Meeting audiences where they are. One billion monthly active TikTok users are constantly ingesting new content.

  • Connecting with younger generations. With 67% of Americans under the age of 19 and 56% of Americans aged 20-29 using TikTok, it is the platform restaurants are using to engage with Gen Z.

  • Being playful with branding and marketing. TikTok is still a platform ripe for experimentation, less polished than platforms like Instagram and Facebook.



10 Most Popular TikTok Ideas for Restaurants


1. Make Your Signature Dish Go Viral

Going viral is the key to TikTok success. The more eyes that are on your TikTok account’s content, the greater your chances of inspiring users to visit your restaurant or website. Generating hype around a signature dish by leveraging a trending sound or hashtag in a way that’s relevant to the dish, helps make your menu look irresistible.

Pro Tip: While everyone that posts a video hopes it will go viral, that shouldn’t be your only goal. Slow and steady growth on social media can be achieved by committing to a consistent posting schedule and letting your food speak for itself.


2. Engage in Trending TikTok Challenges

Take advantage of trending challenges to catapult your content on TikTok and earn you new eyeballs and followers. Put your own spin on the challenge to add a WOW factor while staying true to your brand.


Baskin-Robbins personalized their submission for the #CakeFlipChallenge, a TikTok trend that got almost 73 million views, just by filming staff flipping their ice cream cakes.

3. Create Your Own TikTok Challenge

TikTok thrives on people repeating what others have already done. So, in addition to participating in existing challenges, consider creating your own TikTok challenge.


Promoting a challenge like a pizza pie eating contest during your town’s big NBA game or a wing-devouring challenge during the Super Bowl and encouraging customers to share their videos on Tik Tok might encourage people to order more than they normally would or even attract brand new visitors to your website.


Take inspo from Pizza Hut’s slice challenge that challenged people to eat a large volume of their food.


4. Work With Local Influencers

Partnering with local foodie influencers to create sponsored content on behalf of your restaurant is more relatable than traditional advertising. Host influencer-only live events at your restaurant to incentivize content, or partner with influencers formally through TikTok’s Creator Marketplace.


Pro Tip: Creating drool-worthy content may cause a spike in orders, so be sure you're prepared!


5. Promote Branded Merch

In addition to connecting with local followers, you can engage with a world of users by selling your branded merchandise by showing it off on TikTok.


Dunkin’ shows off its colorful branded merchandise line in the platform’s popular “day in the life” format.


Pro Tip: Wear merchandise in all of your TikTok videos to reap subtle marketing benefits or create videos that explicitly promote your branded t-shirts, barbeque sauce, or cookbook.



6. Create hype for new menu items

Create excitement for new menu items and evaluate interest by giving followers a sneak peek and asking them to share what kinds of things they’d like to see on your menu. Auntie Anne’s shows off their possible new menu items on Tik Tok.


7. Give a Behind-the-Scenes Sneak Peek

Use TikTok to give followers an inside look into other aspects of the business. Try creating a series of bloopers that show the funny realities of working in a restaurant. Not only can these types of videos show off your business’s friendly culture and strengthen your brand, they can also support hiring initiatives.


8. Show How it’s Made

Fans of the platform have long been turning to TikTok to learn new skills, so why not teach people how to create your restaurant’s top menu items? Create TikTok videos that show viewers how to make your signature dishes while subtly promoting them. Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck masters this marketing strategy by hosting mini cooking lessons on TikTok, while promoting his cookware line at the same time.


9. Improve the Takeout and Delivery Experience

Since not everything travels or reheats well, create TikTok videos that explain the best items on your menu for takeout and delivery. Then you can expand on the concept by creating videos that teach the best way to menu items. Advise customers to reheat pizza in an oven instead of in a microwave, for example, to achieve maximum crispiness.


10. Answer Frequently Asked Questions

If you repeatedly hear the same questions about your menu items, create TikTok videos that answer them in a fun and engaging manner. If customers are constantly asking how to use chopsticks, have your chef perform a demo. Video. If customers are a little bit confused about how to order directly from your social media channels, create a quick video that gives a step by step tutorial.




Measure the Impact of Your TikTok Campaigns

As with all marketing ventures, incorporating TikTok into your restaurant’s marketing strategy will require a bit of trial and error. As you embark on your new journey into the trending social media channel, remember to measure the impact of your campaigns to learn what works and what doesn’t.

For restaurants, TikTok presents a huge opportunity to quickly connect with potential customers , including ones you may never have reached on any other platform. To attract customers via TikTok, it’s imperative that you post regularly and imitate trending content.


Best Time to Post on TikTok

According to HubSpot’s 2023 Social Media Trends Report, the best times to post on TikTok are 6 to 9 PM, 3 to 6 PM, and 12 to 3 PM. The best day to post is Friday, and the worst days are Monday and Tuesday.

When creating your own strategy, it’s important to remember that although each social network sees its engagement increase at specific hours and days of the week, you still have to tailor an approach that best fits your brand and audience.



25 Stats to consider:

  1. Marketers say that TikTok and Instagram have the biggest potential to grow in 2023. 53% of marketers will increase their investments in the app.

  2. 40% of young people go to TikTok or Instagram when looking for a place to eat instead of Google Maps or Search.

  3. TikTok has the 4th highest audience engagement rate for UGC (User Generated Content) campaigns.

  4. A TikTok from a macro-influencer receives an average of 38,517 views.

  5. TikTok’s CPM is half the cost of Instagram, a third of the cost of Twitter, and 62% less than Snapchat.

  6. TikTok's largest age group is between the ages of 18 and 24.

  7. 54.1% of global TikTok users are female, and 45.9% are male.

  8. 62% of Gen Z use TikTok and spend the most time on TikTok.

  9. The average user spends 89 minutes per day on the app.

  10. 36% of Gen Z and 22% of Millennials consumers want to learn about products through short-form videos.

  11. 88% of people on TikTok report that the sound on the platform is central to the overall app experience.

  12. 46% of TikTok users engage with content on TikTok without distractions or using multiple screens at once.

  13. A quarter of U.S. adults under 30 regularly get news on TikTok.

  14. 38% of TikTok users say entertaining ads teach them something new.

  15. When users see brands organic TikTok content before their paid ads, there is a 27% increase in brand recall.

  16. TikTok users are 1.3x more likely to agree that the platform helps them hear different perspectives than they normally hear vs. other entertainment and social brands.

  17. TikTok users are twice as likely as users of other channels to recommend something they found on the platform.

  18. Ads on TikTok viewed for less than six seconds still produce a stronger impact compared to ads viewed for 20 seconds or more.

  19. Brands are remembered 40% more on TikTok than on other platforms.

  20. 71% of TikTok users who take action off platform say that TikTok shows them exactly what they are looking for.

  21. 2 out of 3 of TikTok users are likely to buy something while on the platform.

  22. 50% of TikTok users have bought something after watching TikTok LIVE.

  23. TikTok users are twice as likely as users of traditional social platforms to recommend a product or service they’ve discovered on the app and 1.5x more successful at convincing others to try the product or service.

  24. 55% of users use TikTok to research new brands or products.

  25. 50% of TikTok users reported feeling joyful, excited, or happy about the products they purchased, which is 25% higher than on traditional social platforms.


Take Away

Creating engaging, creative, viral videos on TikTok can result in more than just a larger following for your restaurant. Incorporating TikTok into your marketing strategy can expand your customer base, attract new audiences, and increase sales. So, if your restaurant isn’t already hopping on the TikTok bandwagon, now is the perfect time to begin and watch views convert into dollars.





By Eileen Strauss



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