TikTok is an app that, at this point, needs little introduction. The speed of its growth has been monumental, and currently has a user base of over a billion monthly active users. It’s become a popular spot for people to hang out, watch, and share quick 60 second (or less) videos. As you can probably spot, a description like that makes it rather intriguing for any businesses looking to make themselves known through advertising.

How viable is it to put your restaurant advertising on TikTok?

It largely depends on your target demographic and how suitable your business is to TikTok’s style, but if you can overcome some initial hurdles, the rewards are without equal. 

Users on TikTok love the online world, so if you have an online ordering platform to direct them to, you’ll be able to fully leverage a digital presence to your advantage.

If you think TikTok might be the next great opportunity for your restaurant advertising, here’s what you’ll need to know to ensure that it’s the right platform for you.

Know Your Audience

First things first – when running a TikTok advertising campaign for your restaurant, it helps to know who your audience is and what will engage them. For TikTok, that audience is quite young, much younger than other social media platforms. The largest chunk of them are between 18 and 24 years of age

For an audience like this, you’ll want to keep things light and casual, with a healthy dose of humor sprinkled in. That’s exactly the sort of content they’ll seek out anyway, and it’s good to keep them in familiar territory.

Keep a finger firmly on the pulse of modern trends and get in before things get “old” – you’ll want to keep your content up-to-date. 

This audience also considers themselves, to an extent, “above” traditional brand interactions. It’s a bit of a cynical mindset, and one that immunizes them to typical forms of overt TikTok advertising.


Produce Engaging Content

If the thesis of your content is just “look at how cool my restaurant is! We have many things on sale!”, this audience will look the other way. 

You’ll have to better emulate the kind of content they enjoy, and you can do that by offering something special. You can view it as something to help the medicine go down, but it should ideally be the main draw of your restaurant advertising.You should try anything that comes alongside, but doesn’t focus on, owning, operating, or working in a restaurant. 

This content could only exist because of the restaurant (which forces the viewer to mentally register it), but it’s always a “side benefit” of the special something that actually draws eyes.

These special things can vary wildly. Maybe you added a new menu item: release a quick, well-edited video of how it was made! Maybe a cool moment happened in the restaurant itself – a birthday celebration, a proposal, anything memorable enough to share on social media. With the customer’s permission, you can post a video of that too. 

Or maybe you can share personal insights you’ve learned in your time running or working for a restaurant. TikTok is a very casual environment, don’t be afraid to get your personality involved!

Humor is also a mainstay of TikTok advertising and content in general; one that never goes out of style. If you can make those jokes land, go for ‘em! Your goal is to humanize yourself as much as possible, and not to present as ‘just another corporate brand’. Maintain that fun, lighthearted atmosphere and you’re sure to do well.

Even some more unusual tactics can work if you get your audience involved. Experimentation and innovation are assets here!

A Behind-The-Scenes Perspective

You don’t have to just focus on the food and the customers. Give your viewers a glimpse into the inner workings of your restaurant, and forge that intimate, human connection as best you can. 

This tactic will also help your audience feel “in-the-know”, and give them a special connection to your business. After all, they saw something from you that no other restaurant has shown them! 

This audience might know exactly how/where their food was made, who made it, and so on – which is something your competitors can’t offer. If they feel like they’re a part of your community, they’ll foster that relationship by taking their business to your front door. And if they prefer staying at home, directing them to a solid online ordering platform will be just as good, if not better.

If anything funny happens, capture it on video! You can host internal events or celebrations to boost morale, and post the results online.

Now there is something to be careful of here. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of upper management demanding employees to participate in some internet challenge or viral trend. Do not do this. 

Enthusiasm and genuine passion is key, and that’s just not something you can mandate. Your goal should be to show the happy, relaxed side of your business, with everyone in on the fun and having a good time. Capturing that unfiltered, unforced enjoyment is key, and will pay off in the finished video!

Connect with Influencers

TikTok is, in all likelihood, a platform where your users will be more experienced than you are. This can pose a challenge – a lot of the “tricks” you might pick up could be things that your audience has grown numb to. But you don’t always need

Reach out to other users on the platform – ones with a larger audience that connects with your demographic, and see if you can strike a deal. Have them review (and show off) your new menu items, do some mutual cross-promotion, or maybe even feature them in your videos. 

And even if you keep your interactions to smaller creators, it’s still a boost. Don’t spam other small accounts (that’ll look too corporate, like a bot went around saying generically nice things to everyone), but keep your interactions meaningful. 

Prove to users that you’re not just here to advertise – be present, make connections, and you’ll forge a more intimate connection with users and your business that typical restaurant advertising could never accomplish.

About Smooth Commerce

Smooth Commerce is an all-in-one digital commerce and customer marketing platform for restaurants that combines online and mobile ordering, delivery, loyalty, and powerful marketing tools to help you grow your business, while giving you access to your customer data to help grow your restaurant. 

If you would like to learn more or talk to a representative from Smooth Commerce about how our platform can help you meet your loyalty goals, contact us at learnmore@smooth.tech.