A Quick Recap of Restaurant Marketing Trends

restaurant marketing trends indoor media

Today, there are thousands of restauranteurs around the country just trying to get one step ahead of their competition. For small business owners, it’s especially important to make sure you’re putting the same effort into marketing your business as you put into daily operations. One way to simplify this cycle is to research and identify restaurant marketing trends in your area. Part of this can come from testing your own social media content or watching for successful advertising campaigns in your community.


However, if you’re looking to really get ahead, you know that every single contemporary industry is mining data and using it to shape their content. If that sounds too complicated — don’t worry. We’ve read through a recent Restaurant Success Report published by Toast (one of the largest Restaurant POS systems, and a company that has access to a ton of restauranteur user data) and boiled their research down into the quick guide below.

Social Media Advertising

Today, more than 67% of restaurants have started advertising on social media. Many small business owners feel they have a good enough grasp on the platforms that matter most, so they’re happy to try their luck creating and sharing content. What they may not realize is that over 34% of restaurants have at least one employee who is solely responsible for digital marketing.


Whether that means hiring your niece part-time to keep up with your website, or creating a contract with a social media manager, many business owners have found that it is too much work to run their social media accounts while also tending to the day-to-day operations of their restaurant.



As mentioned, social media is the most popular form of digital advertising for restaurants — and ranks above paid Google pay-per-click ads (these are the ads you see at the top of your search engine results page). Instagram is a great starting place if you are considering creating a social media platform for your restaurant because it is so intuitive and a great place to share images of your food.


restaurant instagram post
Instagram Post from Fox in the Snow Cafe in Columbus, OH.


That being said, it’s also an important place to hop onto because in 2019 alone 78% of restaurants had a profile of Instagram. Compare that to 2018 when only 24% of restaurants were using the platform and 2017 when a mere 18% had profiles.


Part of why the image-based platform Instagram is such a great place for restaurants to reach their customers is because Toast found that 72% of guests believe that the quality of their food is important. This ended up beating “Value,” “Price Point,” and even “Convenience” as the most important criteria for a guest to choose a restaurant, so building your content around the quality of your food is a great place to start.



Despite Instagram’s new wave of popularity, Facebook has remained the #1 social media platform. In 2019, 91% of restaurants said they had profiles on Facebook. That jumped from 68% in 2018 and is a clear indicator of why it’s so important to create a profile ASAP.


Beyond being a great place to reach your customers and advertise your products, it’s important to create a Facebook profile simply so your customers know you really exist. Creating a profile on Facebook is much easier than building out an entire website, and while it’s important to secure your domain, Facebook can be a great starting place.


When your customers search your business, you want to ensure that your restaurant is popping up. The easiest way to do so is to start making online profiles. Once you’re established online you can also use these profiles to communicate any holiday closures, promotions, or collaborations you plan on pursuing with other restaurants.


Luckily for small business owners, “word of mouth” proved a stronger medium than online reviews. In 2019, 88% of guests said that they chose a restaurant based on recommendations from friends and family while only 35% said online reviews swayed them.


That being said, it’s still super important to monitor your ranking on Yelp or Google because when first time customers view your ratings these stats may affect their sense of the “quality of your food.”


As mentioned, that factor is still the most important criteria for new guests when dining out and so you want to make sure you’re flagging any inappropriate comments or reaching out to help your customers when something goes terribly wrong. The more in touch you are with your ratings, the better grasp you’ll have on how to steer your business.


Read more about The Importance of Online Reviews for Restaurants


Best Advertising Mediums

Another avenue for restaurants that want to ensure they’re retaining “locality” is to look into grocery store advertising. Through programs like coupon-receipt advertising, small businesses can print their restaurant coupons or branded messages on the back of grocery store register tape. In doing so, they ensure that every single shopper walks out with their supermarket advertisement.


One of the greatest assets of grocery store advertising is that you know exactly where your ads are going. With organic social media, your impressions could be coming from several states away and it’s difficult to tell whether your new followers are coming from your community. Grocery store advertising provides a degree of hyper-local advertising because most stores pull shoppers from a three-mile radius of the store. That means that with each campaign, you know exactly who you are advertising to and can retain a local feeling within your ads.


With social media, there’s a lot of pressure to quickly grow your following and it can be very frustrating to watch your posts only receive a handful of “likes” or “comments.” Consequently, it’s always a good idea to combine digital marketing with other mediums that are sure to lead to new sales in the meantime. To read more about grocery store advertising and how to create successful supermarket advertisements you can check out this guide, and find other helpful tips about mastering local marketing.

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