How to Get the Most out of Facebook Ads for Restaurants

Facebook is the most widely used social network in the world, with almost 2 billion daily users and counting. It’s where a lot of your customers spend a lot of time, and capturing their attention is a great way to boost your sales.

While you may already have a Facebook page to share information about your restaurant, Facebook also will sell you ads to help you reach existing and new diners.

Setting up a Facebook ad can be daunting. We'll walk you through the basics so you can start expanding your restaurant’s reach.


First ask yourself: What's the goal here?

Before you jump, figure out where you want to land. There are a number of ways advertising can help you get more business. For instance, you can ...

  • get more online orders 

  • find and engage new customers

  • drive traffic to an e-commerce store

  • promote a new menu item or special 

Your goal will determine what your call to action, or CTA, in your ad. It answers the question, What do you want the customer to do? If, for example, you're trying to increase online sales, your CTA should nudge customers to visit your website or delivery platform.


Then, establish and target your audience

Consider whom you want to reach (is your audience existing customers, or people who've never tried your restaurant?) and where they live. Local audiences are great if you want to gin up delivery orders or announce a new special. If you want to promote an e-commerce store that ships nationwide, your audience will need to be national.

How can Facebook tell whether people seeing the ad are new customers? When you build out your ad, Facebook offers options to grow your audience. You can select interests like “Dining Out” and specific cities to market to. 

To get even better results you’ll need to integrate four key tools: Facebook pixels, customer lists, exclusion lists, and lookalike audiences. Let’s dig into each.

What's a Facebook pixel?

Before you do anything with Facebook ads you should make sure that your Facebook pixel has been added to your website. A Facebook pixel is a piece of code that Facebook assigns to your restaurant to help you track people who visit your site. You'll be able to count website visits, e-commerce store purchases, and delivery orders placed as a result of your ad.

Facebook pixels also track who visits your website generally. When that person goes onto Facebook later, Facebook will recognize them as someone interested in your business, and can potentially serve them your ad. If you don't install the pixel, you simply won’t be able to see whether your ad is working. 

Website designers and platforms may install your Facebook pixel when they are building out your site. Contact them first to confirm. If they haven't, here is more information on how to add it yourself. Make sure the pixel is added to each page on your site.


What's a Facebook customer list?

This one is more self-explanatory: you want a list of current customers. A great place to find this list is via your email subscribers or contact info you’ve collected from any previous e-commerce or delivery orders. 

Your customer list contains people who already know and love your restaurant. They will be the most engaged and familiar with what you have to offer. A customer list will help you target ads for promotions or new offers at your restaurant.


What are Facebook exclusion lists?

An exclusion list is anyone you don’t want to send an ad to, which is another way of saying, they keep you from wasting money.

Your customer list might double as an exclusion list, if you're trying to reach all-new customers. You can also make an exclusion list of people who already like your Facebook page or who have interacted with previous ads.


What's a Facebook lookalike audience?

When an ad campaign plateaus, you need a new audience, ideally one similar to the one that's been working for you. A lookalike audience, then, is a new audience that has traits of your existing audience. You can even create a lookalike audience on your own.


How to set up Facebook ads

Now! Let's get some ads set up, yeah? There are two ways you can deploy paid advertising on Facebook: through your Facebook Ads Center and through the Facebook Ads Manager. They sound very much alike, but don't confuse them.

Facebook Ads Center is the easiest to access. You can find your Facebook Ads Center by going to your restaurant’s Facebook page as an admin. The left-hand toolbar will have an option labeled as “Ad Center”.

This is where to start if your ad goals center around boosting your restaurant’s Facebook page or building general awareness for your restaurant. It lets you push ads to increase page likes, comments, and shares.

Say you've just published your newest menu on your Facebook page. You can use the Ads Center to "boost" that post to reach a wider audience. You can also reformat images from your past Facebook posts into ads in the Ads Center.

Facebook Ads Manager is your go-to for more advanced campaigns. Ads there are optimized for app installations, getting e-commerce orders, and pushing sales—think online delivery or takeout orders.

To access your Ads Manager account, go through Facebook’s separate Business Manager platform. Start by creating a Business Manager account for your restaurant. Once you set this up, you can access your Ads Manager and connect it to your Facebook page so you can publish ads.

The Ads Manager looks different from the Ads Center. You'll notice much more robust reporting. You can customize the columns to see the metrics most relevant to your campaign. You can also see how much each engagement, like, or sale is costing you in ad spending. 

Ads Manager also lets you create campaigns, with ad sets and ads inside of each. You can run ads for different goals at once while keeping the ads organized within their respective campaigns. 


How many Facebook ads should you run for your restaurant?

So how many ads should you run at the same time? Start with at least two for each of your goals. If you're trying to drive more online ordering, for instance, use the same CTA destination to two ads that use different copy and images, so you can test different tactics against each other. Maybe you use video on one ad and a carousel of photos on the other. If the video performs better, you can pause the other ad and build out more ads using videos.

You’ll also want to refresh your ads over time. Changing the copy and creative in your ads will keeps them fresh without annoying potential customers. Aim to serve new ads every two to four weeks, depending on how they perform. If you're not getting traction, pause and try something different

Do create your ad graphics with mobile viewing in mind, as 94% of all Facebook Ad revenue  comes from people viewing on mobile devices. Make sure the text is large and that the photo is eye-catching, and that you view your ad on your phone to check it, rather than only on a desktop or laptop.

Always tracking your ad’s performance. This is the best way to measure what is working and what needs to go. It’s also the most effective way to see what type of return you are getting from your investment. 


And a final note about Instagram integration...

Since Facebook owns Instagram, it houses ads for Instagram in Facebook Ads Center and Facebook Ads Manager. You can easily run Facebook and Instagram campaigns side-by-side and get the same reporting metrics. The best part is, you don’t have to toggle between the two platforms.