In this series, we're discussing how to use various social media platforms to develop a successful and creative marketing strategy for your restaurant (or business). Social media is all the rage these days, and your business shouldn't be left behind. People will want to research a restaurant online before they attend, as they do with the majority of the hospitality industry, so make sure your social media game is on point. We'll be discussing TikTok this week, a platform with over one billion active users. It's a hit with Gen-Z and can be used to take your brand global, with an endless amount of marketing opportunities through influencers, hashtags, and more.
Tiktok is a social media platform that’s relatively new to the scene, some may even call it a baby amongst social giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Several video-sharing applications have competed to be the best in the game (if anyone remembers Keek and Vine) but all have failed, with the remnants of once-popular videos now posted as memes on alternative social media platforms, and no result when searched for in the app store. TikTok has proven itself in the tough battle of leading social platforms, having been the most downloaded app for three years in a row, receiving an enormous 656 million downloads in 2021 alone.
The video app has gained a lot of traction since it was first launched in 2018, so how can your restaurant use it to implement an effective marketing strategy? There are a variety of features that your restaurant will need to incorporate into its content to effectively market its services, and you'll need to consider elements like current trends, music, and quality. TikTok just increased the amount of time you can film videos to 3 minutes, but it's advised to stick to around 30-60 seconds to keep users engaged.
Influencer Marketing and following the trends
TikTok is a powerful marketing tool that can successfully build brand awareness, one way to do this (also a great tactic if you haven’t yet grown your business's profile) is to use influencers to promote your services to their followers. People on TikTok are highly influenced by others, whether this is into buying a product, visiting a place or testing out a unique recipe. For example, during the pandemic, people started to get creative with their cooking and a trend that became widely popular was the #fetapasta recipe, which saw millions of people recreate the cheesy pasta dish after a video of a user making it went viral. The hashtag now has nearly a billion views and the dish is known by thousands of households around the globe.
Working with influencers is a great way to partner with individuals who appeal to the ideal customers in your niche, they have the power to influence their behaviour and are usually seen as trustworthy when providing their opinion on products and services. One thing that you want to avoid with influencer marketing on TikTok is creating content that seems as though it is an advertisement. This includes a very scripted and robotic video that is clearly made just because ‘someone was paid to do it’. TikTok is famous for its authenticity, and you’ll want to capitalise on this and use it to your advantage.
Partner with an influencer in your niche and come up with a creative strategy to market your restaurant - this could be through inviting them and their friends to enjoy a meal there (leaving them to film as they please and produce an authentic voiceover to review). As with our last post in the series, influencer marketing isn’t just about identifying the influencers with the most amount of followers, you need to focus on partnering with those that have a strong and committed audience - you want to build a sense of community and brand loyalty, so this is important.
Create a hashtag challenge
Hashtag challenges are an inventive way to build hype around a product or brand, TikTok describes them as “Innovative and highly compelling, the Branded Hashtag Challenge amasses creative content from the TikTok community by harnessing fun trends that anyone can get involved in.” It only takes one search to see the power hashtags hold within the TikTok community, #restaurant alone has over 7 billion views. They help users to find the videos that interest them and join in on trends. One of the most common reasons for using a hashtag is to improve your post's chances of visibility on the ‘For You Page’.
Devising a hashtag challenge requires a lot of thought, as there will be many trending tags that have come and gone as the community responds to the fast-moving world of Gen-Z. Be original with your ideas and don’t forget to make the trend fun, incorporating popular music and video effects. Get users to try out a recipe you’ve created, or make one of your famous original cocktails. TikTok says “the HTC is changing the way that businesses interact with their audiences” as it allows businesses to place themselves in the centre of cultural movements. A branded hashtag challenge can have a real impact on engagement with your business, especially when used in conjunction with influencer marketing (i.e. an influencer taking part in the challenge themselves).
Show your authentic side
As with influencer marketing, it’s not only important to make sure your advertisements on the video-sharing platform are genuine and personable, but your restaurant's page content as well. Gen-Z and millennials are extremely aware when it comes to overly staged and scripted content, they want something that feels relaxed and real. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook demand a more professional approach to content creation, but TikTok has allowed for a new generation of authenticity, where brands can showcase a more personalised side that is highly likely to appeal to audiences. Nando's, a popular South African restaurant chain, has adopted a comic approach to its content, generating POV videos of staff recreating commonly-used jokes about the spice levels of its chicken.
TikTok ads are relatively new to the platform, and whilst the app has typically been known to harbour a younger demographic, it is slowly becoming more popular with those that don’t fit into the Gen-Z category. As long as you understand the audience you are appealing to, TikTok ads can be an effective way to market your restaurant - remember though, that the majority of its users continue to fit within the younger demographic. Options for ads include in-feed videos that businesses can tailor to the current trends that are being followed, such as popular dances and songs that are skyrocketing in the charts. These usually appear within the general For You feed and often are mistaken for regular videos (this is where the authentic element comes in) which can increase engagement and visibility. Additionally, you can advertise with Top View ads, which will appear at the top of a user's feed, offering the opportunity for strong brand awareness.
It’s only been around for a handful of years, but the video-sharing platform has proven itself as a game-changer in the social media world. Building brand awareness and increasing engagement with audiences are crucial for a restaurant that wants to improve its chances of receiving more direct bookings and guests. We hope that your business will follow these steps to up your social media game and enjoy the benefits of this platform. For more advice, contact the team of specialists here at FLOCC.