Expert Tips for Marketing Your Restaurant on TikTok

If TikTok isn’t already a part of your social media marketing mix, research suggests it should be. A recent study from software marketplace platform  Capterra found that 78% of surveyed restaurant and retail owners saw a positive return on their investment in the 

video-driven platform. 72% of respondents described organic TikTok content as “extremely valuable” to their company’s overall marketing performance.


But if you’re new to the platform, or just struggling to adjust, it may not be entirely clear how to promote your restaurant on TikTok. We wanted to learn more, so we spoke with Samantha Markiewicz, vice president of digital for  Bread & Butter, a hospitality-focused social media marketing, public relations, and design company. 


10 Tips For Marketing Restaurants on TikTok

If you're wondering how to promote your restaurant on TikTok, Markiewicz offered up a wealth of tips. With the right mix of content, tagging, and trending tunes, you can turn TikTok into a powerful tool for brand visibility. 

“TikTok moves incredibly fast, and if a person of influence sparks interest in your business, it could go viral," Markiewicz explained. "If you have a Linktree built out to your website and reservation platforms and a little bit of content about what you do, you won’t miss out on that traffic but instead convert it into bookings.”

So, how can you set your restaurant up for success on TikTok? Here are 10 tips to consider:


1. Set up your profile for success.

Your profile will play an important part in helping you connect with your target audience. As you set up your account, try to claim a username that is as close to your restaurant’s actual name as possible.

“If you can’t get the actual name, find something close to your brand or play off the actual platform’s name,” said Markiewicz. “One theme of TikTok is that there’s all these niches, like BookTok or KnitTok or RunningTok, so if you’re restaurant’s name is Gracies, it could be GraciesTok, or you could add wherever you’re located, like GraciesLA.”

Other important profile features include a bio with geographical information, a  Linktree that connects to your website and reservation platform, and a profile pic that includes your brand’s logo. 


2. Capture what you already do best.

Creating new video content on a regular basis can be a lot of extra work. But as a restaurant, your best marketing strategy isn’t necessarily creating viral dance videos. One of the top tips for marketing restaurants on TikTok is to showcase the things you already do as a business day-in and day-out. 

“That really helps take away some of the anxiety about having to come up with ideas,” said Markiewicz.

Document activities in your kitchen, dining room, or on your food delivery routes. Not only will this approach save you the trouble of coming up with new ideas every day, but the results will simply feel more authentic and resonant for your target audience. 


3. Highlight your signature dishes, over and over again.

Identify your signature dishes, and show them off as often as possible. And, said Markiewicz, you don’t have to be shy about featuring the same dish multiple times in one week.

“With Instagram it’s more about aesthetics, so if I post the same photo day after day, the people that follow me are going to get bored,” said Markiewicz. “But with Tiktok, people are rarely going to look at your profile. Instead, they’re spending time in their 'For You' page, which isn’t curated by followers but by interest, so the more that you post things you want to be known for, the more chance you have to show up in someone’s feed.”


4. Lean into behind-the-scenes footage.

People love to get a peek behind the curtains. Showcase your restaurant in action and don’t be afraid to share the occasional harmless but entertaining fail. 

“Honesty and a little bit of grit is more interesting to people than the shiny perfectness of the brand,” Markiewicz said.

Not totally sure how to promote your restaurant on TikTok? Try filming snippets from a trip to the farmer’s market, a bartender mixing a cocktail, or a walk through the kitchen during the dinner rush. Capture moments that reflect your brand, and shine a spotlight on the people that give your restaurant its identity.


5. Repurpose existing social media content

One of the best tips for marketing restaurants on TikTok is to recycle existing content. It’s perfectly acceptable to mine your Instagram or Facebook feed for TikTok fodder. 

“I would include footage of things like the menu, interior design, and even your neighborhood because it tells a bigger story, even if it doesn’t get as much traction as some of your other videos,” said Markiewicz.

Naturally, not everything that you crosspost will succeed on every platform, but there’s no harm in trying. 


6. Always pair your videos with trending audio.

TikTok’s algorithm favors videos that use trending audio clips, and a lot of that has to do with how the app first originated.

“TikTok was born out of an app called that focused on people making their own music videos,” Markiewicz said. “On TikTok, audio will begin to trend, and [the videos with] that audio will be pushed into your ‘For You’ page, with the idea that people take that audio and make their own video with their own spin.” 

Scroll through your “For You” page to see a few of the songs that are currently trending, or turn to TikTok's Creative Center to see the Top 100 from the past seven days. Sample your options and look for something that matches the intended tone of your content.


7. Use location tags and hashtags strategically.

Tagging your content is extremely important. Location tags allow you to push out content to people in your local community, and they help people find you when they’re searching for restaurants in a specific area. Hashtags can help narrow your audience by topical relevance and jump abroad trending topics.

“TikTok will use hashtags to initially serve your content in one direction or another,” said Markiewicz. “So if I use #BookTok, TikTok is going to say, ‘I need to give this to people who’ve shown they like books’. But if you use too many hashtags in competing categories, you might not perform well in every category, and then you actually decrease your reach.”


8. Tap into the audience of influencers.

Influencers are an invaluable resource for expanding your audience.

“Depending on the business, teaming up with influencers is as valuable as creating your own content,” Markiewicz told us. “These influencers generally have an audience they built on YouTube or Instagram that they’ve taken to TikTok, and their video [of your restaurant] is more likely to go viral than when you’re starting from zero followers.”

Do a little research first. Identify TikTok users that post regularly about restaurants, are local to your area, and enjoy sizable followings. From there, it’s about creating a mutually beneficial relationship. Some influencers may work in exchange for a free meal while others may ask for a small fee. Address the details and deliverables upfront. 


9. Respond to comments and engage with your audience.

Everyone who takes time to comment on your content deserves a response. You can keep it simple, but always shoot for a tone that shows appreciation for their time, even when addressing potentially negative comments. 

As with Yelp or Google reviews, being responsive shows customers that you care and that you’re paying attention to feedback. As Markiewicz explained, “TikTok’s a place for listening to public discourse about your business. People aren’t shy on TikTok, and if they’re giving negative reviews, that can be a tool to gauge response to products being put out.”


10. Post as often as you can.

One of the most important tips for marketing restaurants on TikTok is to establish a steady cadence for posting, with the understanding that more is generally better. 

“The more content you put out there, the more chances you have to go viral, but it’s really dependent on what you feel comfortable as a restaurant operator,” Markiewicz said.

Ideally, you’ll want to work toward a minimum target of about 5 posts a week. But of course, content generation takes time. If this is more than your in-house team can handle, you may want to outsource some of your social media marketing efforts to a third-party provider. 


Enhancing Your TikTok Marketing Efforts

Building and managing a presence on TikTok is a great way to build brand visibility, connect with new customers, and drive restaurant sales. Of course, just because you know how to promote your restaurant on TikTok doesn’t mean you actually have the time or personnel to do it effectively. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent social media management resources and providers available to help, from simple social media scheduling platforms to full-service, hands-on digital marketing firms. While it can be incredibly overwhelming to research and vet all of your options, our team of experts have taken the guesswork out of the process by compiling a list of the very best social media marketing services available for restaurants. 


Additional research and reporting by Grace Dickinson.