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Facebook/Instagram Marketing for Restaurants - 8 Proven Strategies to Attract & Engage Customers

We all know that Instagram and Facebook is the place to be when we talk about food, fashion and all things love.

Anybody who has a love affair with food and gastronomy will follow a few social handles on Facebook & Instagram. It could be their favorite restaurants, cafes, influencers, food bloggers & vloggers, and of course their foodie friends.

So if you are a restaurant owner or in any way involved in restaurant marketing, by now you would be very much familiar with the Facebook & Instagram marketing world (unless you’re living under a rock!)

Facebook Marketing for Restaurants

As per a survey finding in New York, one-third of the millennials order food just to take photos and upload them. They do not intend to eat that food in the 1st place! Now, these numbers might be shocking for some, but Gen Z is so consumed by the colorful feed and trends that they don’t mind shelling out a few bucks just to make their feed look good.

Another survey finds that 50% of the Millenials take food photos before they eat (we’re guilty too). There are close to 180 million hashtags of #food currently uploaded on Instagram. Other popular hashtags like #foodporn #foodie etc., are also frequently used. These stats are giving you the signals that Instagram is the perfect platform to advertise your restaurant or cafe.

If you have never created ads before on Facebook, here is our step-by-step guide on the same.

If you have already been running ads for a while, then you can check out our article on how to optimize your ad and creative, where we share some hacks & tips to boost your Facebook & Instagram ad performance.

Before we get started on the strategies, let’s first talk about why the need to run Facebook & Instagram ads for your restaurant.

Facebook & Instagram still rule the roost when it comes to the highest number of followers.

Most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2022, ranked by number of monthly active users

Social media network users in 2022

Source: Statista

Hence if you aren't running ads on Facebook & Instagram for your restaurant, then you might be losing out on a lot of potential customers to your competitors. 😱😱

Facebook Ads Manager makes it very easy to run ads for your business. They have multiple targeting options to choose from, which well defines your TG.

The most effective location targeting for restaurant ads would be by radius or pin codes. Doing a city-wide, state-wide, or nation targeting; hardly makes much sense for restaurants as people prefer to visit or order from nearby places.

For example, if your restaurant or cafe is located in New York, then you can either go ahead and target specific neighborhoods like Central Park, SoHo, Manhattan, etc., or just go with a radius of 10-20 miles/km around your location.
If you do not want people from Newark or New Jersey to visit your restaurant or if it's too far for them then just go ahead and exclude those regions.

This way your restaurant's Facebook or Instagram ad will be seen only by people who live in that vicinity.

Facebook advertising for restaurants


You can also select the age and gender of your target audience. Ideally, it would be preferred to keep it open between the age group of 18-65 and target all genders. By restricting the age and gender, you end up highly limiting the audience, which can lead to higher costs.

Detailed targeting:

To further refine your potential audience or customers, you can add a layer of detailed targeting which can help reach accurate customers for your restaurant through Facebook and Instagram ads.

Here you can see, we’ve selected some Interests, like Food & Drinks (which is obvious), Entertainment, Shopping & Fashion, and Family & Relationships. This would make the audience size very broad, if you want to keep it narrow or precise, just select ‘Food & Drinks’, and that would make an ideal audience.

These interests & behavior are based on your potential TG's previous interaction with any of these businesses. If they have shown any interest or affinity towards the specified category, they would be your potential customers as well.

If you are an upscale restaurant or cafe, then showing Facebook and Instagram ads of your restaurant to lower or middle-income range customers wouldn’t make much sense. You can filter your audience based on income levels as well.

If you are a local gastropub, then keeping your targeting wide would be better for marketing your restaurant.

But if you are a Vegan cafe or restaurant, then make sure you select the ‘Vegan’ option under Food & Drink and exclude maybe meat-eaters.

You can play around with it, do some trial and error with the audience selection and see what works best for your restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram ad.

Detailed targeting options are endless and can sometimes feel like a maze. But if you are new to Facebook Ads, we’d suggest going slow and sticking to the basics first.

Instagram advertising for restaurants

Lookalike Audience Targeting:

This targeting option allows you to reach customers who share similar interests and behavior to your curated audience list. All you have to do is upload your existing database, and Facebook will create a Lookalike Audience based on those interests which your current customer set exhibits.

This way, you can reach audiences who will be interested in visiting or ordering from your restaurant after seeing the ad on Facebook or Instagram.

There are zillion targeting options that Facebook Ads provides, you can check them out in the ad platform.

Well, then let's get cracking on a few brilliant strategies which you can apply to your restaurant’s Instagram & Facebook marketing to boost the growth of your business.

1. Create a quirky hashtag for your restaurant

Hashtags as we all know help in discovering products and places of which we weren’t even remotely aware. So Instagram hashtags work just like a search engine, the more memorable a hashtag, the better the discoverability of your restaurant. Plus it's easy to track user-generated content.

What is UGC?

User-generated content or UGC is a post created by your user using your hashtag. This can help the restaurant to re-post the user’s content and help in their Instagram marketing. For restaurants, this works more like word-of-mouth and a combination of testimonials.

  • It gives more credibility to the restaurant
  • It leans people to experience your restaurant
  • It helps build engagement and community
  • It saves you the time to create new content, as you can re-post the user content

There are many restaurants out there that have nailed the Instagram hashtag game. Let's see a couple of cool and quirky examples below.

Marketing Tips for Restaurants

There are two types of examples here, the first where the hashtag of the restaurant had so many posts by users, and the second where #CCD and #IndiaRunsOnChai is what the brand wants you to use when posting about them.

This clearly indicates that your restaurant hashtag game has to be strong and you need to use it in all posts.

Use a hashtag strategy for marketing your restaurant. Hashtags can play a big role in contests and giveaways. You can ask your followers to use a particular #hashtag and send in their food entries. Another way of marketing your restaurant is that you post some food & drink pictures and let your followers suggest the quirkiest (whackiest) hashtag for the post! Whoever gives you the best hashtag, wins a special meal or complimentary gifts. This way you can use these UGC posts and share them at a later stage.

2. Include all special days & holidays in your Instagram plan

Any restaurant marketing strategy should involve all the international days and special days around food & drinks. It's an integral part of your marketing campaign. For example, if Mother’s Day is soon approaching and you have some special activities planned for that day, it could be any event, brunch, or activity with your child, all these special events have to be promoted on Instagram and Facebook to reach as many people as possible.

Say if it’s like International Coffee Day or World Chocolate Day, then you can easily showcase some items from your menu that highlights these ingredients and use the hashtag which is trending for such days and events.

Restaurant Marketing Strategy in 2022

If it's Independence Day, then you can try and keep your feed in the colors of your country’s flag or create a dish that represents your country at its best. Cashing in on these special events and days will make sure you catch the attention of your audience and also get them to participate or visit your restaurant.

Growth Strategy for Restaurants

The above post from Ronnies on Sunset promotes their beer on #nationalburgerday in a smart way. They are marketing their special happy hours and promising you a good time with a live screening of a sports event!

💡Pro Tip: Boosting such posts or running paid promotions before the planned event can further increase your reach and even see high table reservations or bookings.

3. Make your Instagram feed look like a painting canvas 🎨

Everybody loves a rainbow. When you spot one, it is sheer happiness. The same rule applies to a restaurant’s Instagram feed. It should look cohesive and not chaotic. The color palette should reflect the vibrancy and have a similar tone running through all posts. Be it the decor, the color of the walls, cutlery, and food images, everything put together should sing a happy song.

A person first eats with their eyes, then senses, and finally the palette. So the visual representation has to be strong and cohesive enough to entice them to dine with you. This will give millennials a chance to take more pictures and upload them on their feed or stories, plus get others to try out your restaurant and have your customers promote it organically without you putting in much effort.

Below we’ve shared an example of what a good feed looks like. One is focusing on food & styling and the other is focused on the offers and promises them a good time.

Restaurant Facebook Marketing

What stands out between an attractive and unattractive feed is the way restaurants use the grid layout of Instagram. The best way to go about this is to use Grid templates that you know can work. You can use Canva’s feature of the design grid which will help you drag & drop and crop the photos to fit into those grids beautifully.

You can also use Pinterest to get some design ideas and inspiration for your Instagram grid layout and story ideas. Using a grid planner can help you save time and resources and be more efficient with your restaurant’s Instagram marketing.

4. Create an Instagrammable cafe or restaurant 🌺

Instagram is all about making things look good and picturesque. The whole viral game has started because of Instagram, so you should try out some decor or unique hacks to make your place look pretty as a flower.

Let me first share a couple of examples of cafes & restaurants that have something unique and pretty about them.

Instagram Ads for Restaurants

This little cafe @thenotecoffee is one of the most unique cafes in Vietnam, Hanoi. What sets this cafe apart from other cafes is that it sells love through its concept of love letters or sticky notes which the whole place is filled with. From the walls to the tables, every corner is decorated with these letters and notes. So, not only are they promoting coffee but also spreading love and positivity.

Another beautiful and unique 2D cafe is the Greem cafe in Seoul, South Korea. The whole concept looks like a 2-dimensional world, which is inspired by the famous Korean drama ‘W’. This cafe looks more like a storybook pencil illustration but it's very real! We aren’t surprised by the number of people who will flock in droves to witness this one-of-a-kind concept cafe.

Instagram Advertising for Eateries

The other great way to capture your audience's attention is the use of neon signs and photo booths! Throw in some bold neon colors with a good caption and post those pictures on your Instagram and Facebook handle. The selfie addicts will immediately get attracted to that corner of the room and post numerous photos on their feed tagging your restaurant in the process.

Online Advertising for Restaurants 1

Online Advertising for Restaurants 2

This restaurant in Mumbai, Pink Wasabi, knew how to incite the excitement of customers and used props and lighting to enhance its decor and style. So obviously, this spot is where everybody heads to when they visit the restaurant. And as the name suggests, the place is heavily done in hues of pink.

A beautiful example of minimal design and food is Toki in Amsterdam. Rough brick walls, painted in white and with a contrast of blue floor, strike the perfect semblance of rustic and vintage.

The minimalistic design is what attracts the customers as it lends itself to a peaceful and almost calm-like state of mind

Digital Advertising for Restaurants

All the examples shared above are just a tiny glimpse into the world of Instagram marketing and how a minimal design change or any out-of-box ideas can turn your restaurant into a whole viral sensation for Instagrammers. It could be a logo, a quirky name, funny hashtags, neon signs, or just simplicity. Anything can work wonders if done right and marketed well on Instagram and Facebook.

5. Nail the food photography 📷

You must be wondering “I’m into the restaurant business so why should I invest my time in photography?” The answer is very simple. Even though you specialize in food & drinks, a picture is worth a thousand words! Visually-appealing food photography can elevate your Instagram game and win you 1000 hearts💖💖.

If you master photography, as well as all the angles and lighting, then your restaurant’s Instagram handle will be buzzing like a bee. And if you cannot do it yourself, then outsource it to the experts! There are various food photography stylists available in today’s time, who take the perfect shot of your food and drinks.

The flat lay shots are the most popular photography tricks, combined with good natural lighting or with the help of artificial light. Make your food stand front and center, so whenever any user comes across your feed, they should immediately start salivating and crave to try out the food and drinks!

What is flat lay photography?

Flat lay photography is a restaurant marketing trend on Instagram! Restaurants & food bloggers photograph their tables from above to achieve the satisfying effect we've grown accustomed to seeing on Instagram.

Food Photography Tips

Visual cues have a significantly larger impact on our brain, and it constantly keeps reminding us whenever we come across something similar

💡Pro Tip: Adding embellishments to your food & drinks will add another layer of depth and give it an extra effect. You can include books, flowers, quirky props, napkins, cutlery, candles, etc, to make it more appealing to the viewers. To know more about food styling, find some very useful tips in this blog.

6. Plan your calendar in advance to include contests & giveaways🧧🎁

Running competitions is an effective restaurant marketing strategy for Instagram & Facebook. This not only increases engagement but also expands your reach by making 'tag a friend' a prerequisite for contest entry.

By tagging people in contest posts, your followers will help increase brand awareness for your restaurant’s Instagram & Facebook accounts!

Restaurant Social Media Marketing

A contest or giveaway requires proper planning in advance, so make sure you have figured out the basics first:

What do you want to achieve with this giveaway or contest?

  • What will the contest be about?
  • Can you do a partnership with or collab with some brand or influencer?
  • How much cash prize or gift are you willing to give away
  • Method of entry and selection
  • Final winner selection
  • Terms & conditions

💡Pro Tip: It is always a good idea to promote the contests & giveaways with Instagram and Facebook ads. This way your reach will be higher and you can gain more followers and likes for your page.

7. Use food influencers & bloggers to market your restaurant

It is common knowledge in today’s time that food influencers and bloggers are the go-to solutions for your restaurant marketing needs. These bloggers and influencers have such a huge audience reach, that you can easily tap into and gain more followers. Their followers are actively engaged with them, which means that partnering with them is a great marketing tactic for your restaurant’s Instagram & Facebook pages.

There are two ways to go about this; either you pay them per story or post, or engage in a barter system where the meal is on the house for them in exchange for a post or story. Usually, the big influencers with millions of followers, charge per post. Depending upon your budget and objective you can decide what path to take.

💡Pro Tip: Influencers and bloggers can also help with contests and giveaways. If they announce it on their page, chances of higher participation in the contest plus gaining more followers are a given!

Restaurant Influencer Marketing

8. Run paid Facebook & Instagram ads for your restaurant

Of course, you have done all the organic activities to promote your restaurant, but including paid promotions is a great way to market your restaurant on Facebook & Instagram. While there are so many restaurants already vying for your audience’s attention in the ever-lasting scroll or feed, how do you make sure your restaurant’s post gets noticed? There’s no way of tracking that organically. The best way to measure the effectiveness of a post is if you boost it or run ads around it.

If you run story ads on Instagram and Facebook for your restaurant, then the possibility of noticing a post becomes higher. You can even promote a user-generated post on the story, which will look less like an ad and more like a regular post. It is a great way to increase engagement and make potential customers take action. It could be directly ordering from your app/website/3rd party aggregator site or direct bookings through calls and texts.

You first need to decide what exactly you want to achieve with the ad. Considering your goal, it could be any of the following:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Building trust and loyalty
  • Customer retention
  • New customer acquisition
  • Gain more followers and likes
  • Promote live and special events

Once you decide on your goal and budget, you can then decide on the ad format, ad content, CTA, and ad placement.

Now that your ad basics are covered, your audience, location targeting, and demographics have to be identified. We’ve already discussed this in detail right at the start of the article 🖕🖕.

Tantalize their taste buds with such visually appealing photos and highly-rated reviews of your food & drinks, that no person would want to skip the ad and your restaurant. Start implementing these restaurant marketing strategies to boost your Instagram & Facebook page likes and followers, and in turn, grow your business revenue.