Is your restaurant keeping up with the latest social media trends? Social media plays a pivotal role in a restaurant’s marketing strategy, and now, a more recent app is making its way into the mix and is changing the game. 

It’s time to tap into the power of the fastest-growing social media app that has taken the world by storm—TikTok. 

TikTok was impressively the most downloaded app worldwide in 2020. There’s no denying it: TikTok is big.

Here are a few quick stats to prove it:

  1. It has 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.
  2. Since Jan. 2018, the amount of monthly active users has increased by 800%.
  3. It has 50 million daily active users in the U.S.
  4. It’s been downloaded around 2 billion times globally. 

Though this app started to gain a lot of attraction in 2019, it wasn’t until this past year that restaurants have begun to utilize it more. The pandemic has driven much of TikTok’s recent growth, and it’s not stopping anytime soon.

In this article, we’re going to go over the basics of TikTok and show you different ways in which you can use it to promote your business and increase your online exposure. 

What is TikTok? 

Tiktok is a short-form video-focused social media app. It allows users to create, upload, and share videos ranging between five to 60 seconds in length. Creators have access to a variety of effects, filters, songs for audio, and more. 

What helps TikTok stand out among the other social platforms is its strength in being an entertainment platform. It’s so appealing and easy-to-watch because of its algorithm it uses for its viewers. The app uses artificial intelligence to make personalized recommendations for each user’s “For You” Page based on past behavior.  

Video is a priority for 92% of marketers, and TikTok has given businesses another outlet to increase their marketing content. It’s also good to note that 87% of marketers have reported a positive return on investment (ROI) with video, and 91% feel that the pandemic has made video more critical for brands. 

How to Get Started

For your restaurant to be successful on TikTok, you must first be active on the platform. Start by downloading the free app on Apple or Andriod and creating an account with your restaurant’s information. 

Make sure to have your username be as close to your restaurant’s name as possible and use your logo for your profile picture. We want to highlight this because TikTok’s platform has the power to increase your restaurant’s brand awareness tremendously. 

You want users to see your video, remember your name, engage with it (like, follow, share), come back for more, and, even better, come to your restaurant in real life. 

How to Use TikTok to Market Your Restaurant

Use the six ideas below to promote your restaurant on the most engaging platform and capture the opportunity and growth that TikTok offers.  

1. Share Recipes & Food In The Making

One of the most effortless go-to’s videos you can share are recipes and cooking videos of food being made. Use jump cuts to piece together videos of your chefs putting together meals step-by-step. 

The great thing about food is it’s the perfect thing for creating drool-worthy content. We’ve seen #food and #foodies photos and videos success take off on Instagram, and it’s doing the same on TikTok. 

There are currently over 107 billion views of these short videos with the #food.

One of our customers Bon Vino’s Bistro & Bakery recently tapped into TikTok and shared with us that it’s been beneficial. Check out their close-up video of homemade dinner rolls in the making. 

@bon_vinos_bistro_bakeryHomemade dinner rolls in the making. 🤤 #bonvinos #dinnerrolls #thanksgiving♬ Up Beat (Married Life) – Kenyi

Manager Rey Gonzalez says, “We believe TikTok has helped with engagement. It allows our guests/followers to see how some of their items are made from start to finish in under a minute, allowing us to keep their attention.”

2. Prove You’re Keeping Up With the Trends

If you didn’t know already, TikTok is quite known for its ability to spread trends like wildfire. These trends tend to spark from music, the latest song or sound to go viral on the app, and hashtags. 

Another trend that often comes up is when users share a life hack, and viewers begin to recreate and share. Put a trendy song and a life hack video together, and you’ve got yourself a TikTok that could go viral. 

For example, watch our customer Ike’s Sandwiches’s Tortilla Hack Video. 

@ikessandwichesIKE’S STYLE #levelup #tortillatrend #tortillahack #tortillawrap #tortillachallenge #tortilla #foodie #food♬ Level Up – Ciara

One of the latest trends to spread on TikTok was the tortilla hack shown where you cut the tortilla, add the ingredients in sections of four, and flip to enclose the whole thing. The video’s song is also a viral hit that is extremely popular to use in TikTok videos. 

3. Host a Live Event

Once your account has 1,000 followers on TikTok, you can go live on the app and engage with users in real-time. 

With this feature, you can plan to host events like short cooking classes or virtual happy hour to teach users how to recreate one of your signature cocktails. You can also gain home chefs’ attention by teaching fundamental cooking skills in your live videos. 

Users are on TikTok for an average of 52 minutes per day, and this number jumps up to 80 minutes for younger people under 15. When they spend this much time on the app, hosting live videos is perfect for capturing their attention and engaging with your page.

Find a walkthrough guide of everything you need to know about TikTok Live here. 

4. Show Off Things to Do At Your Restaurant

Think of this TikTik video similar to a short commercial. Show your viewers what a lovely date night they could have in your restaurant or unique, fun things to do there. 

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, our customer Urban Roast, a cafe and cocktail bar in Washington, DC, shares the video below. 

@districteatz_urbanroastTag your date in the comments #fyp #foryou #valentinesday #datenight♬ Let Me Love You – Mario

This video showcases one of Urban Roast’s unique attractions with a smores bar and beautifully decorated cafe for Valentine’s Day. 

Besides the date night idea, another couple of videos you could create for this are food challenges, game night, live music, or karaoke. 

5. Introduce Menu Items

TikTok is an excellent way to share the inside scoop on brand-new and secret menu items in your restaurant. Recently there’s been a trend of users sharing their favorite go-to orders, particularly in coffee shops, and other users will “duet” the video when they try it. 

The Buffalo Spot does a great job at showcasing its World Famous Buffalo Fries. Here’s an impressive TikTok they created. Videos as such are fit for showcasing what you’re known for and increasing your brand’s awareness. 

@buffalospotmesaBuffalo Fries be 💥💥🤩 #mesa #arizona #buffalospot #thebuffalospot #foodieee #bossfries #arizonacheck #arizonacheck #wings♬ Funny Thing – Thundercat

6. Team Up With TikTok Influencers

Another way to promote your restaurant on TikTok is by partnering with TikTok Influencers. 

Chipotle was the first restaurant to partner with TikTok in the U.S. back in 2019. They were the first restaurant to launch a TikTok “Challenge” called the #ChipotleFlipLid and partner with some of the app’s top influencers. 

How do you know if influencers are for you? Well, think about who your customer base is. This app is the most popular among Gen Z and Millenials, but its users are starting to age up. If your goal is to cater to Gen Z, then TikTok and user-generated content is a must for your restaurant. 

The Virzi triplets recently featured Buffalo Wild Wings in a TikTok video with over 220 thousand likes while doing a wing roulette challenge. Buffalo Wild Wings then had access to reshare this video on their TikTok account.

Start posting more content on TikTok, and soon all your customers will be on the #food side of TikTok. If you don’t know what sides you’re on, that’s a clue you haven’t watched it enough. 

@buffalowildwingsConfirming our next sauce is NOT pickle juice. 🎥: @virzitriplets #triplets #challenge #wingroulette #YouShouldKnow♬ original sound – Buffalo Wild Wings

The future of TikTok

2020 was the year we began to see TikTok take off, but we believe this social media platform will continue to rise in 2021. 

TikTok is fun, and it’s a great place to try new content out to see how it resonates with your viewers. Because it’s a video form, this makes it easy to save and cross-promote within your existing social media channels as well. 

Try the ideas in this blog post out and see just how well TikTok can help you grow your business. 

Ready to learn more? Download our Restaurant Trends 2021 Guide to go in-depth on the current trends and learn how to utilize them to keep your business ahead of the game today.