Marketing on Facebook takes a lighter touch if you want to promote your restaurant successfully. Customers love to hear about new menu items and promotional events, but Facebook browsers don’t want to feel like they’re locked in a room with an aggressive time-share salesperson.

Facebook promotional campaigns that work and attract viral attention do so because they’re funny, lighthearted, visually compelling and designed for easy sharing. Restaurateurs can easily become overly promotional, but the best Facebook ideas find the right mix of humor, information, customer service and special offers.

A Restaurant on Facebook

Facebook, as the most popular social media network, is an essential part of any successful restaurant marketing strategy. Facebook Pages can engage customers, target advertising prospects, build a stronger Internet presence, enable easy social sharing on the restaurant’s regular website and provide a useful forum for sampling public opinion and offering customers a place to complain, praise and communicate.

Facebook marketing best practices include posting your menu on Facebook and ensuring that you’re talking to local people instead of linguistically adept marketers in India. Using geo-targeting, social-ad targeting and local email lists for your posts ensure that you reach your audience. Other general marketing tips for Facebook include:

  • Highlight key events and milestones by clicking on “Offer” and then clicking on “Event+.”
  • Focus each campaign on specifics, and avoid generalities.
  • Identify your concept and niche for people who might not know much about your restaurant, but do it succinctly.
  • Tailor your messages to your targeted audience.
  • Interact with customers, offer timely posts and make sure that customers can find your restaurant using Facebook search tools.

Four Ways to Be a Facebook Marketer

If you want to gain promotional benefits from Facebook, use humor, visuals and behind-the-scenes information even if it’s not 100-percent flattering. You’ll get high marks for honesty and transparency because everybody knows that people aren’t perfect and that unexpected things can happen. Show people that your restaurant rolls with the punches and can find humor in adversity. The following four ideas are good ways to start reaping a harvest from your Facebook marketing seeds:

  1. Memes
    Memes are memorable visual images, slogans, stories, videos or even stock photos that become so popular that people co-opt them to replace their original messages with humorous ideas or advertising messages. An example might be replacing President Barack Obama’s famous campaign poster’s message “HOPE” with “HOPELESS” OR “ABANDON ALL HOPE.”You can promote your restaurant with these memes on Facebook and attract big audiences, and the marketing strategy doesn’t cost much money or time. You can even generate automatic meme ideas with free meme generators available online like the one at Examples of popular memes that have been used in the restaurant industry include:


    • Ice Cream Cones
      Australian comedian Alki Stevens is credited for creating the idea of having fun with ice cream cones. The original prank showed a driver in a drive-through applying ice cream cones to his bare chest to simulate a woman’s breasts. The meme inspired about 12,000 unique videos of people grabbing ice cream cones in weird ways.
    • People Getting Happy with Their Salads
      Chicago designer Mark Hauge parodied the common advertising practice of shooting advertising campaigns with people eating alone and laughing. Bloggers began using stock photos and meme captions like “Women Laughing Alone with Salads,” and “Guy Shares a Risque Joke with His Fruit Salad.”
    • Rachael Ray and Captain Obvious
      Even celebrity chefs sometimes become creatively blocked. Rachael Ray drew attention when she offered self-explanatory recipes like “Pineapple Wedges” and “Late Night Bacon” on the Food Network’s website, which inspired a slew of sarcastic recipe posts like “Vegetable Soup: Open can, pour in pan, heat, eat and enjoy. Transferring soup to bowl is optional.” Instead of hurting Ray’s image, the copycat memes actually caused the Food Network’s traffic to spike.
    • Tough Men Making Tender Chickens
      The Perdue Chicken advertising campaign “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken” inspired countless plays on the words like Empire Kosher’s use of the meme: “It takes an even tougher man to make a Kosher chicken.”
    • Zombie Colonel Sanders
      KFC has recently dug up an old advertising strategy — using the chain’s founder Colonel Sanders as its spokesperson. Unfortunately, Colonel Sanders is long dead. You can expect to see some memes on this topic because fans don’t seem to like the imposter, but it’s still early to tell whether the strategy will ultimately be a hit or miss.

    You can start generating your own memes by using standard images or supplying your own creative photos. Using memes is one of the easiest ways to market on Facebook without falling into the trap of becoming too promotional.

  2. Soft-Sell
    Posting funny, humorous, biographical or visually appealing photos and videos to foster desire is more effective on Facebook than just telling people how great your food is. The soft-sell approach favors posting a photo of a succulent soft shell crab entrée instead of writing a thousand words about it. Get visual, and post frequent updates to your Facebook Page. You can also enlist your customers to share photos and generate interest in your restaurant.
  3. Sharing Love with Multiple Partners
    The social media platforms provide the perfect forum for group marketing. You can advertise on Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites, but Facebook offers a commanding advantage because it reaches the most people. Offering incentives to groups on Facebook is a great way to generate a viral campaign and get people to share information about your restaurant with their friends. You could offer a demographic or philosophical group of like-minded people a free appetizer or BOGO deal. Discounts and coupon have always been popular restaurant marketing tools, but you can benefit from social media upgrades for targeting customer buying habits and demographic profiles more accurately.You can use the Facebook Graph Search to benefit your brick-and-mortar restaurant by using an update of an older Facebook feature. Instead of making offers, all you need to do is change your verbiage to “Check-in Deals.” It’s one of the simplest ways to target groups for incentives, and Facebook’s Graph Search uses the keyword ” Check-in Deals” to extend your advertising reach. Ideas for effective Check-in Deals include:


    • Donating to a charity or community cause when people check-in
    • Providing an incentive just for checking in
    • Offering discounts, freebies or incentives for checking in a specified number of times
    • Crafting a special offer for people who check-in together as a group
  4.  Say It Loud, and Say It Proud
    You can get unexpected marketing benefits by encouraging your customers to speak their minds on Facebook. More than 50 percent of consumers report that they find companies’ Facebook Pages more useful than regular websites for resolving customer service issues. You can use Facebook as your own customer service platform, and it’s free. Of course, you must be prepared to monitor the chatter, comments, reviews and complaints and respond to them, but timely interactions generate great promotional benefits. Designate a guy, gal or marketing consultant to keep up with your Facebook presence.

Old Dogs and New Tricks

Common wisdom holds that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. It’s a good thing that you’re a restaurateur and not a household pet. You can learn how to market your restaurant effectively on Facebook, even if you’re not computer-savvy. The goals of digital and social marketing are the same as traditional advertising — it’s just a matter of adjusting your promotional approach to become Facebook-friendly.