How to use TikTok for restaurant marketing

How to use TikTok for restaurant marketing

16th November 2022
Thoughts & Insights

While it may have begun as a place for millennials to show off their dance moves, TikTok has fast become a place for everyone: 1 billion users and counting. As the platform has grown, so has its association with food.

Knowingly or not, most have us have given a TikTok food trend a try – whether it be cloud bread, whipped coffee or the renowned feta and tomato pasta. Audiences are logging on in their millions in search of their next meal – which makes the social site a prime opportunity for restaurant marketing.

There’s no doubt that the coming months are going to be tough for businesses in the hospitality industry. But by capitalising on the potential of the platform, chains and independents alike can become TikTok trend restaurants to get more diners through the door.


The new review

We all know restaurants rely on word of mouth and looking at the stats, it appears TikTok restaurant recommendations are more influential than those from Tripadvisor, Google Reviews and your best friend put together:

36% of people have dined at a restaurant after seeing a TikTok video about it.

65% of people have dined at a restaurant after seeing a content creator’s post about it on TikTok.

55% of users have visited a restaurant after seeing its unique menu item on TikTok.

The site is fast becoming our first port of call when looking for somewhere to eat, particularly when visiting somewhere new (20% of users have dined at a restaurant in a different location after seeing on TikTok.) When it comes to how to find restaurants on TikTok, developers are making it easier for users to scope out dining opportunities in different places. The recently added location tagging feature make these videos more prominent in searches of that area – and assists the ’For You’ page algorithms, which prioritise location and language.

While there’s no denying the value of TikTok restaurant recommendations, it’s important for businesses to recognise that these reviews are not the extensive, considered write ups seen in newspapers or on sites like Tripadvisor. The platform’s consumable content distils the entire restaurant experience into 30 – 45 seconds – with Tik Tok tastemakers like The VIP List using this time to deem the venue worthy of a visit or not. This is leading to a resurgence of the scathing review as creators strive for that pithy sound bite – so restaurants may need to remind themselves to take these with a pinch of salt.


Sitting down to content creation

TikTok for restaurants doesn’t demand a big budget or high production values – all you need is a smartphone. Authenticity is king here, so a relaxed, humorous style works far better than the polished videos we see on other social media sites or marketing channels. If you’re looking for content ideas, these suggestions are a great place to start:

Showcase the restaurant experience: it’s a relatively simple premise, but these bite-sized videos are a great way to show off the dishes and the dining experience. Most often, users will do this for you. For just one example, a single search of London’s Italian Gloria Trattoria reveals endless videos of their cheesy pasta wheels and towering lemon meringue pies. As the brand, you can get in there first by offering sneak peeks of new dishes, décor or locations to build a bit of hype.

Take viewers behind the scenes: BTS content is enduringly popular on TikTok, tapping into the desire for authenticity. Handing the channel over to staff works well here, as 5 Guys saw when one of their employees earned 3.5 million views on a BTS of how they make their fries. Alternatively, restaurants can also capitalise on idea of TikTok as a place for learning by sharing kitchen hacks, recipe tips and ideas from their chefs (just like US salad chain SweetGreen do with this asparagus hack.)

Partner with influencers: of all the social platforms, influencers are arguably at their most influential on TikTok – particularly micro-influencers (under 100k followers) who retain that all-important level of authenticity. Restaurants lend themselves well to this type of marketing as there are many ways they can get involved – collaborations on new dishes, restaurant ride-alongs and challenge participation (as explained below) being just a few.

Set a challenge: there’s no reservations about audience participation on TikTok, so proposing a challenge is a great way to spark engagement and get a hashtag trending. Chipotle are the masters of this approach, seeing incredible results on the Lid Flip and Guac Dance challenges, both driven by leading influencers.

Take on the trends: TikTok is all about trendsetting and following, so creating videos based around trending audio or themes is a simple and effective way to use the potential of the site effectively. (Just as Nando’s did with this video incorporating the ‘sabagliato/prosecco’ trending audio clip.) These trends don’t stick around very long so it’s important to act fast – and do your research to make sure you’re using it correctly.


The best restaurant TikTok accounts are authentic, engaging and relatable – showcasing the USPs that make dining there special. If you’d like a few restaurant TikTok ideas for your venue, get in touch with the team at Shoot the Moon and we’ll explore how the platform can work for you.  

Helen Kennedy
Article by Helen Kennedy

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