tiktok for restaurants
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Have you mastered all other social media platforms and are looking for a new challenge in terms of restaurant marketing? Then look no further than TikTok for restaurants. This rising star can help you tap into a new market and turn TikTok users into loyal customers. Let’s see how you can do that and what to pay attention to when creating a TikTok marketing strategy.

What You Need to Know About TikTok

This relatively new social media platform has taken the world by storm and continues to do so as more people and brands alike are signing up. Due to its authentic way of consuming content, TikTok has won over 800 million people worldwide (and counting). While the target demographic and most avid consumers are gen Zers, people of all ages can enjoy this app – and they do.

You might be interested in reading more social media statistics for restaurants. Download our restaurant social media stats infographic.

So, how does TikTok work exactly? This is an app that allows you to create short videos (no more than 60 seconds), customize them with effects and filters, and share them with the world. As a restaurateur, TikTok can be a great place to find brand ambassadors that are not necessarily well-established social media influencers.

Young users on TikTok like to watch videos, but they also like to create them. They can end up representing your brand if they like your food and presence on the platform, and bringing your restaurant to more people’s attention.

Related: [Infographic] Video Marketing for Restaurants: How to Stand out with Unique Video Content

TikTok and Marketing: Why You Need It for Your Restaurant

Especially now, when most interaction between a brand and its customers is done online, businesses have to take advantage of every relevant social media platform. If TikTok is on the rise, your restaurant should be on it. Here are some good reasons why:

  1. Can help you get new customers: If you get people to notice your videos by posting engaging content, you should also add a link to your website or online ordering page on your profile to increase conversions.
  2. Will connect you with locals: TikTok uses an algorithm that prioritizes what videos to show users based on their location. So, your videos will probably be seen by potential customers in your area.
  3. Delivers high engagement: As opposed to other social media platforms, TikTok’s algorithm makes it easier for more people to see your videos and engage with them. And the best part? You don’t need to have a lot of followers to have your content go viral.
  4. Features micro-influencers you can partner up with: Another way to reach a local audience is to find an influencer that has a couple of thousands of followers but is popular within a small community. If you want to target a specific location, find an authentic influencer that people in the area love and propose a partnership.
  5. Offers the possibility of advertising on the platform with less competition: This is all about being an early bird and taking advantage of this opportunity before a lot of brands start advertising on TikTok and the competition increases. Right now, you can still get more reach and engagement on your ads on TikTok than on other platforms.

How to Use TikTok for Restaurants: 5 Tips & Ideas

TikTok is evolving as we speak, and new opportunities for businesses to advertise their products will undoubtedly show up. For now, these TikTok ideas for restaurants aim to help you get more engagement on the platform and send some of those users to your website.

1. Create a hashtag challenge

Hashtag challenges are one of the most popular activities on TikTok. They truly bring the entire community together, from young people to seniors.

You too can create a hashtag challenge by simply uploading a video of yourself (or one of your staff members) doing the challenge and including its name in a hashtag, like Jimmy Fallon did with #tumbleweedchallenge, which has become insanely popular.

The hashtag will help more people find your video and attempt to recreate it. Here are 3 challenge ideas to help you get started:

  • #burritowrapchallenge – If you sell burritos, this is a good way to showcase your products while showing off a unique and fast way to wrap one.
  • #pizzathrowchallenge – If pizza is your main dish, challenge tiktokers to an old-fashioned dough throw to show them how it’s done.
  • #1minutesaladchallenge – Prepare a delicious salad in just one minute and encourage other tiktokers to do the same.

2. Come up with unique campaigns

The content you put out on TikTok should be as creative and quirky as possible. Do you sell meal or cocktail kits? Encourage people to show off their skill by putting it together in a fun way and uploading the video on TikTok using a dedicated hashtag.

To showcase your TikTok restaurant menu, create a campaign building anticipation for a new menu item. Ask people to guess what it might be according to some clues, challenge them to find a unique name for it, and share behind the scenes clips of how it’s made.

3. Partner up with micro-influencers for skits and fun challenges

Like I said, micro-influencers can really boost your channel and presence on TikTok without you having to spend a fortune. Find some local TikTok celebrities and propose a partnership in which they hype up your menu items to their followers.

For this to work, it’s important to let their personalities shine. There’s a reason why people already love them, so work with them to create skits and challenges that their audience will love and that include your products.

Once you get at least 1,000 followers, you also get the option to host live events on TikTok. This is where things get truly interesting. Find influencers that are willing to teach your audience something or engage them in a fun game.

To find TikTok food influencers, you can use their Creator Marketplace.

Read more: Restaurant Influencer Marketing Guide: How to Do It and Why

4. Share behind the scenes clips and secret recipes

I’ve seen enough TikTok viral recipes to understand that they work. You can ride that wave by sharing some of your staple recipes so people can prepare them at home. Show them tips and tricks on how to cook different dishes and kitchen secrets that will make their life easier. Package all that in the fun and upbeat manner typical of this platform.

This is also where your staff can come in. Take users behind the scenes by filming your chef preparing a meal, the servers organizing the delivery and takeout orders, or your bartender mixing your signature cocktails.

Start Taking Delivery & Takeout Orders Today Set up a free online ordering system within minutes

If you’re not taking online orders yet, check out the video below to learn how to activate online ordering for your restaurant.

5. Sample TikTok ads to find the best for your restaurant

The good news about TikTok ads is that since the platform is relatively new, the ads are less competitive. The bad news is that they’re quite expensive, with a minimum investment of $500.

However, if you feel like it’s worth investing in attracting a younger demographic, here are the ad types you can choose from:

  • In-feed: These types of ads appear between other videos on people’s feed. You can use them to get more website clicks and turn users into customers using CTAs.
  • Branded hashtag challenges: This ad is basically a boosted challenge that you promote for extra engagement.
  • Branded effects: similar to the Snapchat geofilters, you can create a 2D or 3D effect that people can use in their photos and that is branded with your logo or name.
  • Brand takeovers: These literally mean you take over the platform by showing your ad to people right when they open the app. You can link website pages like your online ordering page in the video for extra conversions.
  • Topview: This gives your videos “premium real estate” on TikTok, showing up at the very top of the users’ “For You” page.

To create an ad on TikTok, you have to go to the TikTok for business page here. After you create an account and fill in information about your restaurant, you will have to wait for your account to be approved.

More Inspiration: 3 Successful Food Brands on TikTok

One of the most popular and entertaining things on TikTok are TikTok brand deals. Influencers partnering up with brands to create content is a huge part of what makes the following food brands successful on TikTok.

1. Chipotle

Chipotle is the king of brands on TikTok. They are the perfect example of a brand really understanding the platform and how to appeal to its audience.

They are the authors of the viral #guacdance challenge that has received more than 250,000 submissions and upwards of 450 million views in just six days. And how did that benefit Chipotle directly? Well, they broke their own record by serving more than 800,000 sides of guacamole.

@chipotleTFW guac is free. Online/in-app only 7/31 ##GuacDance Terms: chip.tl/avoday♬ The Guacamole Song – Dr. Jean

They’ve also worked with influencer David Dobrik on the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge. The goal was for people to flip a container and have it land just right. More than 100,000 people joined in the fun and the challenge got 230+ million views.

@daviddobrik#ChipotleLidFlip @chipotle #ad♬ Flip – Future

Other notable Chipotle successes on TikTok are its montage of baby boomers mispronouncing “Chipotle” and their Halloween promotion in which users were invited to create a video with the hashtag #Boorito. The five videos that got the most likes received got to eat free at Chipotle for a year. The hashtag #Boorito got more than 3 billion views and the number 1 video got more than 2 million likes.

@chipotlePt.2 y’all are comedy @jebdal @russellodor @alyssa.pustilnik @biblepainter @the.middl3.child666 @alexa_gargano #chipotle #fyp♬ original sound – Chipotle

2. Dunkin’

Dunkin’ is another brand that partnered up with a TikTok influencer to get more engagement and recognition. But not just any influencer. None other than Charli D’Amelio, the most followed person on the platform with more than 107 million followers.

The brand created a new drink and named it after her (The Charli) based on the influencer’s go-to order which usually appeared in her TikTok videos.

The result? Hundreds of thousands of drinks were purchased in the first five days, sales of cold brews increased 20% on the first day and then 45% on the next.

3. Burger King

Burger King also partnered up with some TikTok influencers to launch the #WhopperDanceChallenge. Avani, Loren Gray, and Nathan Davis Jr. debuted the challenge, and users had to copy their moves and upload the video to TikTok using the hashtag.

Then, Burger King would send them a code that they could use for a $1 Whopper. It’s no wonder the campaign was a success. It combines the fun and novelty of a TikTok dance with an almost free menu item from a well-loved brand. Everyone loves a good deal.

Bottom Line

So, what should your takeaway be when it comes to incorporating TikTok for restaurants into your marketing strategy? First of all, remember it’s all about having fun and showing users your human side. Don’t hesitate to use humor and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Secondly, take advantage of TikTok’s algorithm that presents users with videos that have views ranging from a few dozen to millions. You don’t have to be a big brand to be successful on TikTok. You too can shine and grow your profile even if you’re just beginning. Just focus on putting out quality content.

And if you need more proof of that, wait until you hear about Brandon Murphy. He is a kitchen manager at Liberty Hall Pizza in Lambertville, N.J. and he now has more than 200,000 followers on TikTok. How did he get them? Just by posting videos of himself making pizza. The videos are straightforward, honest, and funny, and he says he owes this success to the fact that he is “just a real person, doing real things.”

@pizzamanbran#foryou #wholesomecontent #pizza #pizzalovers #margherita♬ Lets make a pizza – Brandon M

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.

Use GloriaFood's Free Online Ordering System Set it up and start taking orders today!