Social media marketing for Restaurants

In this blog post I will be exploring four restaurants and showing how they each exploit social media marketing in different ways, and highlighting the do’s and don’ts when marketing for restaurants and fast food places.

The first I will be talking about is Nandos, because their popularity has sky rocketed over the last few years. At this moment alone, Nandos has 91,265 people talking about them on Facebook, 1.2 million vine loops and 1.5 million followers on Twitter and its Instagram presence boasts 147k followers. So what is the secret to their success? Well let’s just focus on Instagram, because it is the main source of their visual content. So through Instagram they have successfully exploited hashtags making #Nandos (997,109 posts) #NandosUK (2,725 posts) #PERiPERi (107,207 posts) their own. Asking customers to tag them using these hashtags, this creates engagement and free advertising, through mass content provided by customers, this is shown by the numbers of each hashtag. Furthermore, the focus on Instagram is very important as it is the main channel for engaging users with visual content.

The second restaurant who have an impressive social media presence is McDonalds, it’s a huge brand that is well known across the world, its everywhere, which is why their social media is significantly impressive. McDonalds has 97,703 people talking about them on Facebook, were recently trending and have an astounding 66.5 million likes on their main Facebook page. Their main twitter account which is for the USA has 3.2 million followers, and its Instagram has 1.6 million followers. #McDonalds has 4.7 million posts, showing a huge amount of mostly user generated content. As well as making use of hashtags just like Nando’s, McDonalds had multiple twitter accounts for the various countries they are based in. This is another strength to draw from the marketing of a huge fast food brand, their approach to social media shows that they prioritise customer service and manage customer engagement by spreading the load across multiple accounts. This allows McDonalds to filter the relevant content to different segments, McDonalds Brazil for example will post in the relevant language, and incorporate content specific to McDonalds in Brazil.

On a smaller scale, a local restaurant called Cafe Casita Ristorante Italiano based in the West Midlands only has a Facebook page, with 229 likes, 13 check ins and 4 reviews. This restaurant is an example of poor social media marketing as it shows a lack of social media engagement as there are only 3 user generated photos, and they have very little to offer of their own visual content. They also don’t have other social media channels which means they are missing on opportunities to engage customers through Instagram for example which is better suited for visual content, which is a huge contrast to McDonalds and Nandos who have capitalized on hashtags to group together user generated content, which is effectively free advertising. Moreover, they clearly haven’t encouraged customers to like them on Facebook, check in and leave reviews. The check in is another indirect feature that can benefit a restaurant, as it has a reach to all the friends of the person that check into your restaurant, which is effectively free advertising. A restaurant could encourage these check ins by offering a discount on the final bill.

Another local restaurant is the newly opened Hickory’s smokehouse located in Kingswinford, Hickory’s does form a larger chain across the country, but there is only one in this local area. This Hickory’s has its own Facebook page for the wall heath branch, showing that it has adopted a similar approach to McDonalds, in having multiple accounts specific to area. It has already managed to build a following of 20,051 likes with 481 reviews giving it 4.4/5 stars. This restaurant shows strength in its social media by the sheer amount of content they have on their Facebook page. However, what makes Hickory’s social media very interesting is that they have 40 videos which is a creative way of engaging customers, and differentiates their restaurant from those that just engage in pictures. Visual content is very important, if you see mouth-watering food or even better, food being cooked live this will attract a lot of attention and engage customers and social media users in a more interesting and interactive way.


So there you have it, restaurants of all shapes and sizes, big or small can utilize social media in various ways to benefit the business. So what are my top tips?

  • Don’t underestimate the influence social media can have on restaurants, it is a common occurrence for customers to take pictures of their food whether they are impressed (or not so impressed) with the food, regardless customers will provide a vast majority of the visual content that flows through social media channels.

  • Make use of hashtags to engage customers, whether it’s through special offers, discounts, or just encouraging user generated content. Don’t forget to engage customers even more by incorporating customer serve into your social media, talk to customers by tweeting them, messaging them or responding to their posts, you have all of these features at your disposal so make the most of them all.

  • Get creative with the content, there’s no reason why you can’t make content fun, the kitchen is an interesting place and a video of fresh food being cooked could do wonders for your restaurant. Also with Facebooks new live feature you can broadcast live from the kitchen, birthday/celebration meals and other events. Also exploit Instagram, it’s the main place for hashtags and visual content which is most suited for restaurants, but even more so now as it combines with its own version of snapchat with Instagram stories, where followers can see videos and pictures that you post, but most importantly take advantage of picture and video content.

  • Encourage customers to check in, offer a discount if you need to, it will be worth it as this will reach a wider audience of users through the friends list of your customer and this is effectively free advertising.


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