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It can be tough to keep a constant list of not only trending, but relevant TikTok ideas on hand for your restaurant’s marketing strategy. These days, it’s not enough just to have a TikTok account for your restaurant — since the algorithm rewards participation, you must post regularly and engage with followers. That can be tough when you’re running a business. 

The next time you find yourself with some downtime, simply pick a concept and start recording. Your efforts can have a big payoff; video enables you to tell compelling visual stories and attract loyal customers who resonate with your brand.

Why TikTok for business?

Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has grown into an entertainment platform, news source, and marketing channel. Restaurants in particular have had success using TikTok for business — a 2021 study found that a whopping 36% of the app’s 1.6 billion users have visited or ordered from a restaurant after seeing it first on the video-sharing platform.

In addition to increasing sales and brand awareness, a restaurant TikTok account helps you connect with customers on a human level. Not a videographer? That’s fine; it might even work to your advantage. Forget the perfectly curated Instagram aesthetic — the TikTok vibe is all about being “real.” Unpolished, off-the-cuff videos regularly outperform professionally edited posts, which takes the pressure off you as a creator.

Let’s not forget about the virality effect. Both small and large creators have the potential to go viral on TikTok, regardless of follower count. A video that takes 5 minutes to shoot could get millions of views, changing your life and your business. And, since the TikTok algorithm takes your location into consideration, it’s a great way to increase your local exposure.

9 Restaurant TikTok ideas to add to your restaurant marketing strategy

When you’re just getting started with TikTok marketing, it can be challenging to decide what to post. We’ve got you covered — ramp up your TikTok marketing with these restaurant-specific TikTok ideas:

1. Introduce a new menu item

Get customers excited about a new dish or a seasonal special by using your restaurant’s TikTok account to build hype. Video is the perfect way to show off mouthwatering details — don’t be afraid to use close-up shots, like this sushi TikTok. If possible, get a real-time reaction from a happy customer.

TikTok can also build a sense of urgency around limited-edition dishes. Crumbl Cookies uses this strategy regularly with its popular weekly flavors series.

2. Include diners in the process

A new menu item can take months to plan and develop, so why not take your audience along for the ride? Explain how you brainstorm ideas, discuss your inspiration, and show the recipe-testing process to build curiosity about the final result. Don’t be afraid to show your failures — TikTok users love a realistic perspective. 

You can also try combining a brief backstory with a beautiful visual, as a Yangban Society chef did in a TikTok video for Bon Appetit. By the time the dish rolls out, your customers will have a new appreciation for the effort that went into it.

3. Teach your audience a recipe

Keep your restaurant at the top of diners’ minds with a TikTok video that explains how to make a recipe. You don’t need to give away trade secrets; instead, dispel the mystery behind popular restaurant dishes such as a steakhouse salad or birria tacos. Or, create a new recipe just for social media.

Tutorials are a fun way to build trust with your customers and enable them to participate at home, even when they can’t make it into the restaurant. Plus, it’s a chance to experience your food without feeling like they wasted money if it’s not to their tastes. If they love the dish, you might gain a new customer.

4. Run a promo to increase your mailing list

Harness the power of TikTok by using it to convert viewers into email subscribers. Make a video about a special deal, but require users to sign up for your email list to get it. To get them to stop scrolling, you’ll need a compelling incentive, such as:

  • A discount code
  • Half off appetizers
  • Complimentary dessert
  • Early access to a limited-edition dish
  • Invite to a grand-opening event

An email list is one of the only marketing channels you own completely; it isn’t affected by search engine rankings or social media algorithms. 

Once you build the list, you can start promoting your restaurant directly to customers. Don’t forget that you can do this all while receiving commission-free orders on Grubhub’s Direct platform.

5. Host a live event

Once you have 1,000 followers on TikTok, you unlock the option to host a “live” and broadcast in real time. Live streams can be a great way to build engagement — but first, you need to get people to attend. To start, build interest in the event with fun, trendy videos. Keep them short, and make sure to provide a reason for people to take a break from their day and join you on TikTok. You could host a Q&A with a chef, announce a Grubhub promotion, or invite viewers to an exciting event at the restaurant.

6. Work with local micro-influencers and food bloggers

Influencer marketing is a great way to reach new audiences. The trick? Identify local influencers whose audiences are likely to be interested in your food. Foodies, restaurant-review channels, chefs, and food bloggers are all good options. Check your messages to find people who’ve reached out about potential partnerships, or look for people who’ve already posted a positive restaurant review. If they’re already excited about your brand, they’re more likely to spread that enthusiasm to their audience. When your budget is tight, look to micro-influencers; they often have affordable rates and high follower engagement.

7. Showcase behind-the-scenes

Most people never see the back-of-house at their favorite restaurants. Give TikTok users a peek with videos that show the fast-paced environment and care that goes into each dish. Take your cue from Craig’s Restaurant, which uses humor and trending sounds to make funny behind-the-scenes TikTok videos that get 500K+ views.

8. Show a full-course meal

Show diners what it’s like to eat at your restaurant with a TikTok video that showcases a multi-course meal. Include everything from cocktails to appetizers and desserts; you can even suggest cocktail and appetizer pairings. A meal tour is particularly effective if you offer tasting menus or experiential dining. Speed is crucial — keep viewers interested by switching courses quickly. For reference, watch how High Speed Dining packs multiple courses into 30 seconds.

9. Create a duet or stitch from diners’ videos with your food

Duet and Stitch are two TikTok features that enable you to integrate other users’ videos into your content. As long as your creation is positive or funny, it’s a great way to show appreciation and make your customers feel seen and heard. McDonald’s puts a creative spin on the duet; it uses the face builder filter to respond to customers from the perspective of the food itself. In one post, an iced coffee drink reacts to a video of a woman ordering in the drive-through.

Tips on maximizing your TikTok videos

  • Use trending sounds: Create your videos around the latest trending sounds to get more views, like Chipotle did with the corn song. Find hot new sounds on your Discover page or in the TikTok Creative Center.
  • Participate in trends: Stay up to date on TikTok trends; national food holidays are a natural fit for restaurants. When you find one that works, make a video with a fun twist that shows off your unique brand personality or style.
  • Use the right hashtags: Relevant hashtags help users find your content; trending hashtags may help you show up on users’ For You Pages, even if they’re not relevant to the content itself.
  • Engage with commenters: Respond to every comment and DM to boost your engagement rate.
  • Comment on other accounts: When you’re logged in to your restaurant account, comment on other TikTok posts. If you’re funny or insightful, it can drive traffic back to your page.
Download the Direct Success Playbook

Use TikTok to drive engagement toward your Direct site

Once you zero in on the right TikTok ideas and build a following, you can extend the personalized experience with Grubhub Direct. Direct enables you to build a commission-free ordering website for your business, complete with your own branding and photos. Just put the link in your TikTok bio with a “start your order here” call to action, and use videos to drive traffic to the link.

Your Direct account also comes with detailed customer data, so you can use the Grubhub marketing tools to run promotions tailored to your diners. You have full ownership of the free data, so you can also copy the contacts into your customer relationship management system and use them for off-platform marketing campaigns. 

Ready to get started? Click here to join Grubhub today.