Do you use Facebook advertising for your restaurant?

Facebook has more than 1.7 billion monthly users worldwide. Yet despite their extensive reach, their advertising tools make it incredibly simple to target local customers, making this social media network a precise and cost-effective way to advertise your growing restaurant. In this article, we’ll look at why Facebook is a good fit for small restaurants and bistros, show you how a Facebook ad can target potential customers in your town, and learn how to use Facebook to encourage repeat business.

Facebook Business Pages for Restaurants

It’s the age-old question: where do you want eat today? For many diners there are tons of eating options available, and the hard part is deciding which establishment deserves their business. Customers turn to the Internet for help, seeking out reviews and online menus, hoping to see something to tempt their taste buds.

Unlike regular user pages, Facebook business pages are specifically designed to help businesses connect with their customers. Your first step is to create a business page by visiting Facebook.com/business and setting up a small business page. Be sure to select “Local Business or Place” and set your business’ category to “Restaurant/Cafe.” From there, Facebook will let you begin to populate information about your restaurant. It’s as easy as setting up a regular Facebook page.

Getting Customers From Your Page To Your Restaurant 

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For restaurant Facebook marketing, knowing how to promote your restaurant is as easy as answering your customers frequently asked questions, like hours of operations, address and more. You can even add a PDF version of your menu, so customers can call in to-go orders or just come ready to eat. If you have a daily special, you can blast out information by posting to your page’s timeline and include a picture to get their mouths watering.

Customers can search for restaurants located near them on their mobile phones and Facebook will include your restaurant among their various choices. More active and complete business pages typically get higher rankings in Facebook search. Another top factor in getting your restaurant to show in organic (non-paid) search results is reviews.

Just the simple act of asking customers to review your restaurant on Facebook after a good dining experience will help your business page stand out. Good reviews bump up your listing in search results so other customers can locate your business online. Not all reviews are positive, but try not to fear negative reviews. Sometimes no matter what you do, you can’t please people. But by encouraging good customers to submit reviews, it can provide balance to your ratings. Plus, not-so positive feedback gives you and your staff the opportunity to address any operational issues and improve your performance in the future. 

Creating Awareness With Ads

Creating a Facebook ad is about as simple as creating a post on Facebook. Just add a few words and a tempting picture and you’re ready to share your restaurant with the world. However, you don’t need to waste money advertising in Antarctica, so Facebook makes it simple to limit your advertising dollars to people located in your specific geographic region. It’s important to note though that at this time Local Awareness ads are currently only available to businesses in select countries, including the United States, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, France, and Spain. For other countries, Facebook offers advertising objectives that can be tailored to encourage store visits using a geotargeting structure similar to Local Awareness ads.

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Facebook Local Awareness ads only target groups of people who are near your business. You can even narrow it down further by demographics, like age or gender. For instance, if you have a small cafe that caters to university students, you can choose to advertise to Facebook users in your area who are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old. Try creating several specials that appeal to specific age groups, like a take-out special for students during exams week. Is your restaurant more popular with mature patrons? How about running an early-bird ad for senior discounts before the dinner rush? Maybe you want to attract more female patrons. Try running an ad just to women advertising a ladies night with discounted appetizers.

You can save even more money by selecting a cost-per-click (CPC) payment structure. With CPC, you only pay for advertising when a Facebook user actually clicks on your ad, leading them to your business page or website. In fact, Facebook offers a variety of “call to action” options. When customers click on your ad, they can go to a specific webpage or even get driving directions to your location.

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Schedule Ads Ahead Of Time

When you’re in the middle of a lunchtime rush, you certainly don’t have time to head to your office to send out an advertisement on Facebook. That’s why Facebook’s easy scheduling tool lets you automate when advertising will be shown. Select which hours you want your ad shown to drive immediate traffic to your establishment.

Advertise in the hours leading up to lunchtime to remind Facebook users that you offer a quick and delicious break to their workday. For bars, schedule ads to run on Friday and Saturday to attract the weekend crowd. Note: Facebook restricts certain advertising for alcohol, so it is important that you limit your target demographics to appropriate ages based on your local alcohol laws.

Try A Few Different Things

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Facebook’s Ad Manager lets you not only create and schedule your ads, but it also monitors your results. Try a few different ads and see what works best for your business. Here are a few variables to experiment with:

  • Target Market Demographics: Can your offer be geared toward different age groups or genders?

  • Type of Message: Are you advertising your restaurant in general or focusing on a specific menu item?

  • Scheduling: When are your customers online? When would you like to encourage them to visit you? These may or may not overlap. Try scheduling during both times to see which is more effective.

  • Geotargeting: When you set an ad, you can choose a location radius of how far away from your business you want to target. How wide do you want to cast your net?

  • Call To Action: Which call to action gets more results from your customers? Click for Menu? Click to Call? Get Directions? Try them all.

Reconnecting With Your Current Customers

Repeat business is important to the success of any restaurant. Once you’ve driven in tons of new customers with your successful local business marketing on Facebook, it’s time to re-engage your regular patrons. If you have a list of patron emails you can create ads targeting this group specifically.

One easy way to collect customer email addresses is to incorporate point of sale (POS) software that can help you develop a customer database. A POS like Paymash.com lets customers request emailed receipts when paying for their meal, building your list. Paymash also offers a customer care module, that encourages customer loyalty with credit vouchers and discounts that you can create in Paymash and then advertise with Facebook.

What is your experience with Facebook ads? Do you have any local marketing tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.