TikTok Restaurant Marketing: Tips & Tricks to Gain 1M+ Views

Luke Januschka


May 31, 2024
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It’s been a while since TikTok burst onto the scene, and its explosive growth shows no signs of slowing down. With over a billion monthly active users and counting, this social media platform has become a goldmine for restaurant marketing.

But here’s the catch. You can’t just slap together any old ad and expect it to go viral.

To create restaurant TikTok ideas that actually work, you need to understand the platform’s unique style and audience.

That means embracing the authentic, creative, and often quirky vibe that makes TikTok so addictive.

But if you are still struggling to gain traction on TikTok, you’re not alone. Many restaurants are still trying to crack the code of creating viral TikTok content and ads that resonate with their target audience.

The good news is that with a few key strategies, you can start seeing real results for your business.

In this blog post, we’ll cover:

So, let’s dive in and discover how you can use the power of TikTok restaurant marketing to put your business on the map and keep those tables filled.

Why TikTok Is Vital for Restaurants

Why TikTok is important for restaurant marketing

First off, let’s talk about reach. TikTok has over 1.2 billion monthly active users worldwide, and over 60% of them are between the ages of 16 and 29.

That’s a whole lot of hungry millennials and Gen Zers just waiting to discover your mouth-watering menu.

But it’s not just about the numbers. TikTok’s engagement rates are through the roof compared to other social platforms. The average user spends 95 minutes per day on the app (on Android), and videos have a whopping 17.5% median engagement rate for branded hashtag challenges.

And here’s the kicker: TikTok is still a relatively untapped territory for restaurants. While everyone and their grandma are fighting for attention on Instagram, TikTok is like the Wild West of social media marketing.

There’s less competition, which means more opportunity for your restaurant TikTok ideas to shine.

10 Insider #FoodTok Content Ideas That Go Viral For Restaurants [With Examples]

The right content can take your restaurant from “meh” to “holy guacamole, that’s amazing!”

So, it’s time to spill the tea on how to make your restaurant’s TikTok game so fire, even Gordon Ramsay would be impressed.

Here’s how you can harness the power of TikTok ideas for restaurants and make your content go viral.

Idea #1 - Showcase Signature Dishes, New Menu Items, and Specials

Showcasing signature dishes on TikTok for restaurants

Close-Up Shots

TikTok is all about the visuals, and nothing says ‘watch this’ like a stunning close-up of your signature dishes.

Use slow motion for dramatic effect or a quick time-lapse to transform everyday ingredients into culinary artworks.

Imagine a slow-motion video capturing the dynamic pour of a craft cocktail, garnished with a sprig of fresh mint. It’s not just a drink – it’s an experience.

Example: A great example of a signature dish showcasing in action is done by @flagstaffhouse in their TikTok video which captivates followers with close-up shots of their vibrant and scrumptious cheese platter.

Before-and-After Transformations

Another great content idea is to document the transformation of simple ingredients into mouth-watering meals. 

For instance, if you are a pizza joint, you could show a time-lapse of a gourmet pizza journey from dough to delight in a wood-fired oven capturing the creation beautifully.

Example: @pizzeriamozza shows this off with their mesmerizing assembly and baking process.

Feature Limited-Time Offers or Seasonal Specials

Don’t forget to entice with limited-time offers to create a sense of urgency and tap into the seasonal vibe, be it Christmas, Valentine’s, or even National Fried Chicken Day (yes, it exists).

Say, if you offer seasonal specials like the classic pumpkin spice latte, you can do a close-up of the same complete with a swirl of whipped cream to capture the essence of fall.

Example: Take inspiration from @cubitthouse, which successfully promotes its seasonal offerings, like its Christmas sandwich, through enticing TikTok videos.

💡 Pro tip: Use trending hashtags like #FoodTok, #FoodPorn, and #RestaurantLife to increase your reach and get your content in front of more hungry eyes.

Idea #2 - Share Recipes and Cooking Tutorials

Who doesn’t love a good food recipe? Share the secrets behind your best-selling dishes through engaging, easy-to-follow cooking tutorials.

To further expand on this, invite your chefs and experts to the screen, letting them share their expertise directly with your followers. 

For example, if you own a bar, have your mixologist break down the art of crafting the perfect martini, from shake to strain.


– @chipotle does this brilliantly with their TikTok video, featuring a notepad tutorial on how to make their guacamole at home.

@bonappetitmag’s “Test Kitchen” series, where chefs share their expertise and techniques.

Idea #3 - Feature User-Generated Content and Customer Reviews

customer reviews/ratings for restaurant TikTok marketing

Reposting or Stitching Customer TikToks

Nothing screams authenticity like letting your satisfied customers do the talking. Repost or stitch those TikToks where they’re gushing over your mouth-watering dishes or raving about the top-notch service.

It’s like free advertising, but way more credible.

Example: @shakeshack hit the jackpot when they featured a video of a woman named “Amy” who claimed it’s worth driving hours for their burgers. Talk about a loyal following!

Encourage Customers To Create Content With Branded Hashtags or Challenges

Get your customers involved by encouraging them to create content with branded hashtags or challenges. You could do a “Show Us Your Favorite Dish” challenge where they share their go-to orders.

It’s a win-win situation – you get free content, and they get their 15 seconds of fame.

Example: Take a page out of @Starbucks‘ book with their “#RedCupDay” challenge, where customers share their creative holiday cup designs. 

Highlighting Positive Customer Reviews Or Testimonials

Who doesn’t love a good ol’ ego boost? 

Highlight those glowing customer reviews or testimonials by creating a series of short clips featuring customers raving about their favorite menu items.

Example: @omigroupoffriends nailed it with their “Customer Compliments” TikTok video, showcasing reviews from customers who claimed the restaurant makes the best laksa in Melbourne. And when one of those customers is a Singaporean named Catherine Teo, you know they’re doing something right!

Idea #4 - Use Viral Meme Formats

"Expectation vs Reality" Memes

Memes are the language of the internet, and what better way to connect with your audience than by speaking their language?

Put a restaurant spin on the classic “Expectation vs Reality” meme by showing the expectation of a perfectly plated dish versus the reality of a messy, delicious creation.

Example: @lamaisonleicester hit the nail on the head with their “Expectation vs Reality” video on what people think restaurant owners do versus what they really do. Relatable content? Check!

"How It Started vs How It's Going"

People love a good origin story, so why not feature your restaurant’s journey with the “How It Started vs How It’s Going” format?

Example: @swagatph_ nailed it by showing the process of their restaurant being built at the start, followed by how people are now enjoying the complete, cozy, and vibrant atmosphere.

The pros at Restaurant Growth keep their pulse on viral trends, helping you whip up a TikTok marketing strategy that’ll have your followers saying, “Can I get a side of that content, please?”

Idea #5 - Tap Into ASMR Food Trends

You know those oddly satisfying videos that make you want to eat your phone? Yes, that’s ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) for you.

Whether it’s up-close shots of sizzling steaks on the grill with amplified crackling or slow-motion videos of chocolate sauce being poured over a dessert, these sensory-stimulating clips are like catnip for foodies.


– Take @meltshop, for example. Their cheese-pull videos are so mesmerizing, you’ll be tempted to reach through your phone and grab a bite.

– Check out @andwaffle, where they drizzle signature sauces and syrups over their dishes like pancakes, waffles, and sandwiches, making you wish you could taste the screen.

Idea #6 - Reveal Quick Kitchen Tips/Hacks By Experts and Chefs

Quick tips and kitchen hacks are perfect for snappy, engaging content that viewers love to share like showing how to cut onions without tearing up.

Everyone loves a good kitchen hack, especially when it comes from the pros. 

You can also incorporate a unique twist by revealing specific hacks that are relevant to your niche.


@tipsybartender’s engaging cocktail hacks provide a mix of entertainment and utility, perfect for the TikTok audience.

@chipotle broke the internet with their genius hack on how to turn their burrito bowl lid into a makeshift nacho tray. This simple yet effective trick not only showcased their menu items in a new light but also encouraged user-generated content as followers tried the hack for themselves.

Idea #7 - Highlight Your Staff

Introducing Individual Staff Members

A “Meet the Team” series can add a personal touch to your TikTok content, making your restaurant feel more welcoming and relatable.

A good idea is to feature short, snappy introductions of your servers, chefs, and managers. This approach not only humanizes your staff but also engages viewers with a blend of humor and personality.

Example: Everyone at Restaurant Growth loves the staff highlights video by @koidb that spotlights their various team members with crude and quirky in-lay text like: “Spends too much time on his laptop!”

Staff Competitions, Trivia, or Challenges

Showcasing the skills and creativity of your team can be both entertaining and engaging. Consider posting a friendly competition, like a cook-off between chefs to create the most innovative appetizer.

This not only highlights the expertise of your staff but also keeps your audience guessing and engaged.

Example: A great example is @nandosuk’s TikTok where they quiz a chef on kitchen slang, turning a simple Q&A into a fun and educational watch.

Idea #8 - Give A Peek Into Behind-The-Scenes

Give a peek into behind the scenes for TikTok restaurant marketing

Who doesn’t love a good sneak peek? Giving your audience a glimpse into the action behind the kitchen doors is like serving them a side of exclusivity with their meal.

Show off your kitchen prep, service, or special events to make your followers feel like VIPs.

For instance, a time-lapse of your kitchen staff prepping for a busy dinner service can be oddly satisfying and impress your followers with your team’s efficiency.

Example: Take inspiration from @katzsdelicatessen, who share behind-the-scenes looks at their meticulous kitchen prep and packing.

Idea #9 - Participate in Trending Challenges and Use Popular Sounds/Effects

TikTok is a trend-driven platform, and staying on top of the latest crazes is the key to viral success.

From the #OneChipChallenge to the #LeftoverChallenge, there’s always a new food trend taking over TikTok.

So, don’t be shy and jump on the bandwagon!

Put your unique spin on viral dance challenges or memes to showcase your restaurant’s personality.

This approach also helps you connect with the TikTok community in a fun and relatable way.

Example: Remember how Prayag Mishra (the Pookie guy) broke the internet with the “Pookie” trend? Well, @dunkin cleverly utilized this viral meme, showcasing their iced coffee with luscious donuts while captioning the content as “pookie is looking fire today.”

Idea #10 - Immerse Viewers in Your Restaurant's Ambiance

Capturing The Unique Decor And Atmosphere

Let’s be real, ambiance is everything when it comes to dining out. And what better way to showcase your restaurant’s vibe than with a good ol’ walkthrough video?

Take your followers on a virtual tour, capturing every nook and cranny of your establishment’s unique decor and atmosphere.

You can even kick it up a notch by incorporating ambient sounds and music, creating a multi-sensory experience that’ll transport your viewers straight to your cozy fireplace with crackling sound effects or a first-person tour highlighting your restaurant’s distinctive design elements.

Example: Need some inspo? Check out @burgerking’s advanced future-like decor and ambiance that sets it apart from other fast-food franchises. They do a killer job showcasing the oranges and yellows that are t

Showcase Your Restaurant's Theme Or Concept

Speaking of ambiance, why not take it a step further and showcase your restaurant’s theme or concept with some engaging storytelling?

Blend footage of your decor with interviews explaining your vision, and you’ve got yourself a captivating behind-the-scenes look that’ll have your followers hooked.

People eat that kind of content up (pun intended)!

Example: Take a page from @disneypark’s book and give your viewers a sneak peek into the making of your themed restaurant, like their Tiana’s Palace behind-the-scenes look. 

Best Practices for Creating Engaging TikTok Ads That Work

Let’s dive into some best practices for creating TikTok ads that’ll help you understand what can make or break your TikTok marketing efforts:

Adopt the Platform's Authentic and Creative Style

Be creative with TikTok restaurant marketing ideas

First things first, you have got to play by TikTok’s rules. That means adopting the platform’s raw, unfiltered vibe. 

One of the biggest mistakes restaurants could make on TikTok is trying to force their traditional advertising style onto the platform.

Well, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Instead, focus on creating content that feels native to TikTok. Use vertical, full-screen video format and incorporate popular music, sounds, and trends. Most importantly, showcase your restaurant’s unique personality and voice.

And if you need a little help navigating TikTok trends, the experts at Restaurant Growth are always here to lend a hand.

Grab Attention Quickly

TikTok users have the attention span of a goldfish on espresso, so you have to hook them fast.

When it comes to TikTok restaurant marketing, brevity is key. In-feed ads should typically be between 15-30 seconds long, so focus on delivering a single, clear message or call-to-action.

Use concise, action-oriented copy that encourages viewers to take the next step, whether that’s visiting your website, placing an order, or following your account for more mouthwatering content.

And don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it! TikTok is all about entertainment, so feel free to inject some humor or personality into your ads. Just make sure it aligns with your brand voice and target audience.

Keep Your Ads Short and Sweet

Brevity is the soul of wit (and engagement) for TikTok restaurant marketing. Aim for 15-30 seconds for in-feed ads – just enough time to whet their appetite without overstaying your welcome.

Use concise, action-oriented copy that gets straight to the point. Focus on a single, clear message or call-to-action. 

Leave the novel-length descriptions for your Yelp page.

Test, Learn, and Optimize

Creating killer TikTok ads is all about experimentation. Try out different ad formats, targeting options, and creative elements to see what resonates with your audience.

A/B testing can help you identify your top-performing ads and fine-tune your approach.

It’s also important to understand that creating successful TikTok ads is an iterative process.

You might not nail it on the first try, and that’s okay! The key is to continually test, learn, and optimize your approach based on data and insights.

You can also use tracking tools like Restaurant Growth‘s proprietary tracking dashboard, which makes it easy to monitor your ad performance and make data-driven decisions. 

Overcoming Common TikTok Marketing Challenges for Restaurants

Let’s talk about some of the common challenges restaurants face when it comes to marketing your restaurant on TikTok.

Challenge #1: Time and Resource Constraints

Overcoming time and resource constraints for TikTok marketing

First up, the dreaded time and resource constraints. We get it – you’re busy running a restaurant, not a production studio.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need a Hollywood budget or a team of professional videographers to create engaging TikTok ideas for restaurants.

To streamline content creation, consider batching videos during off-peak hours or when your chef is whipping up a special.

With tools like Canva and InShot, even the most technologically challenged among us can whip up drool-worthy content in no time.

The key is to be authentic and have fun with it.

Challenge #2: TikTok's Dynamic Algorithm

Trying to keep up with the latest trends and features can feel like playing whack-a-mole on steroids. 

But don’t worry, there are plenty of resources out there to help you stay in the know. 

From TikTok’s own Creator Portal to industry blogs and forums, there’s no shortage of information to help you navigate the algorithm tweaks. 

We recommend following accounts like @TikTokForBusiness and @TikTokCreators to stay up-to-date on all things TikTok.

Furthermore, regularly engaging with TikTok’s creative center and following influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk, who often discusses social media trends, can keep you clued in without too much fuss.

And if all else fails, just remember: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If a certain type of content is working for you, stick with it!

Challenge #3 - Handling Negative Comments

Of course, not all comments on TikTok are going to be sunshine and rainbows. Negative comments are an inevitable part of putting your brand out there on social media.

But instead of getting defensive or ignoring them altogether, try to see them as an opportunity to engage with your audience and show off your stellar customer service skills.

Respond to negative comments with grace and humor, and don’t be afraid to own up to any mistakes or shortcomings. 

Your followers will appreciate your honesty and transparency.

Tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Zoho can help you keep track of comments and respond in a timely manner.

Challenge #4 - Balancing Authenticity with Brand Messaging

Messaging is like seasoning a dish – too little and it’s bland, too much and it’s overwhelming. 

Think of your brand as a character in a story you’re telling through each post. Consistency in this character builds trust and keeps the audience coming back for more.

In fact, the most successful brands on TikTok are the ones that seamlessly integrate their messaging into their content in a way that feels natural and organic.

Measuring Your TikTok Marketing Success

Here are the key metrics you should be keeping an eye on when analyzing your TikTok marketing success:

– Views: This is the number of times your video has been watched. 

– Engagement rate: This is the percentage of viewers who interacted with your video in some way, such as liking, commenting, sharing, or following your account. A high engagement rate means your content is resonating with your audience.

– Follower growth: This is the rate at which your TikTok following is increasing. A steady follower growth indicates that your content is attracting new viewers and keeping them engaged.

What Are The "Good" Numbers When It Comes To TikTok?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, a general rule of thumb is that an engagement rate of 2% or higher is considered good.

As for views, a video with over 10,000 views is considered viral, but keep in mind that this number can vary depending on your niche and audience size.

Now, let’s talk about goals. It’s not enough to just post content and hope for the best. You need to set specific, measurable goals for your restaurant’s TikTok marketing efforts. 

Maybe you want to hit 100,000 views on a single video or grow your follower count by 10% in a month. 

Whatever your goals are, make sure they’re realistic and aligned with your overall business objectives.

Using TikTok Analytics To Measure Your Growth

Measuring growth on TikTok Analytics

Tools like TikTok Analytics can help you gain valuable audience insights. It is a powerful tool that provides data on your video views, engagement, and follower growth.

But it also provides insights into your audience demographics, such as their location, gender, and age range. This information can help you tailor your content to better resonate with your target audience.

To access TikTok Analytics, simply navigate to your profile and click on the three dots in the top right corner. From there, select “Analytics” and voila!

You’ll be able to see all sorts of juicy data about your TikTok performance. 

Recap - Welcoming The TikTok Revolution To Boost Bottom Lines

If you’re not on TikTok yet, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to put your restaurant on the map. This app isn’t just for Gen Z dance challenges and lip-syncing videos anymore. 

TikTok presents a gargantuan opportunity for restaurants looking to connect with a younger, tech-savvy audience through restaurant marketing.

At Restaurant Growth, we’ve seen firsthand the impact the platform can have on restaurants’ growth.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. 

“All of this sounds great but I’m just a restaurant owner, not a TikTok mastermind!”

We get you. If you don’t have the bandwidth to win TikTok all by yourself, you can always reach out to us at Restaurant Growth.

With our TikTok marketing services, you can 3X your order value and increase profit margins by up to 8% without having to wait 3 months

From creating the perfect restaurant TikTok ideas to analyzing your metrics and optimizing your strategy, our TikTok experts do it all.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to plunge into TikTok for restaurants and start boosting your bottom lines. 

Get in touch with us today!


How do I market my restaurant with TikTok?

You can dive into the #FoodTok frenzy by serving up sizzling slow-mos of your signature dishes and behind-the-scenes kitchen capers. Get creative with trending sounds and challenges to add some extra sizzle to your content. 

Is TikTok good for restaurant business?

You bet your bottom dollar it is! TikTok is perfect for dishing out bite-sized, shareable content that can turn viewers into visitors.

With its visual feast and global reach, it’s a no-brainer for restaurants looking to spice up their online presence and plate up some serious brand awareness.

How do I advertise my food on TikTok?

You can get started by capturing the art of plating up or the drama of a flambé. Use TikTok’s features to amplify the crunch, the sizzle, and the ooze. It’s all about making viewers feel like they can almost taste the dish. And don’t forget to sprinkle in some trending hashtags for that extra dash of discoverability.

How do I promote my cafe on TikTok?

Showcase your cafe’s vibe with clips of baristas crafting latte art or the morning rush of fresh pastries hitting the counter.

Create a cozy, inviting narrative with your content, and use TikTok’s duet and stitch features to interact with your coffee-loving community. 

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Luke Januschka
Luke Januschka is a pivotal partner at Restaurant Growth, where he spearheads strategies that have generated over 30 million dollars in tracked sales for our valued restaurant clients.
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