by Toby

February 1, 2019

facebook ad restaurant - pizza

Whether your restaurant is high-end, fast casual, a healthy eatery, a gastropub, or fast food, your restaurant’s specific target audience is on Facebook multiple times per day every day of the week.

If you’re not utilizing Facebook ads to reach your customers, you are missing out on one of the most effective advertising channels to reach them. And the worst part, if you’re not promoting your restaurant with Facebook ads, your savvier competitors are and stealing your customers.

Want to target event planners, group dining, private dining? That’s achievable with Facebook ads too.


In this post, I outline why Facebook ads are so important for creating awareness for your restaurant, and give you five killer ad tactics to consider for driving more business (including catering). Here’s a summary of what we’ll be covering.

  1. Run Seasonal Specials. Plan an ad calendar for Facebook ads
  2. Promote Restaurant Entertainment. Target people that like that type of music in Facebook.
  3. Reward Your Existing Customers Using Retargeting Ads. Run special promos to past customers.
  4. Grow Restaurant Catering. Target office assistants with catering specials inside Facebook.
  5. Integrate Ads With Traditional Marketing. Create Facebook ads that target users that like your traditional media outlets
  6. Restaurant Job Ads. Hire better people with Facebook job ads

Restaurant Facebook Video Ad Example
Restaurant Facebook Video Ad Example

restaurant facebook ad (carousel ad) - donuts
Restaurant Facebook Ad (Carousel Ad) – Donuts

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Why Facebook ads to promote your restaurant?

Facebook is hands down the number one social media channel in the world. Your customers are there in the largest concentration out of any other social channel. And the vast majority of your customers access Facebook multiple times per day of which the majority are accessing via their mobile phone­. Pair this with the below statistics and insights (Source: Facebook Quarterly Report):

  • 65% of Facebook users access it daily
  • Facebook has 1.52 billion mobile daily active users
  • Users spend 20 – 30 minutes per day on Facebook

Download the PDF Guide For Restaurants

Mobile usage is huge right now, and you’re probably not leveraging it well. Nobody is carrying around the newspaper, or a magazine and checking it multiple times per day – but they are on Facebook via their mobile phones. Of the three hours per day that consumers spend on mobile devices, almost one-third of that is spent on Facebook! Consider also that many of your restaurant competitors are not very savvy yet with online marketing and are still over-relying on inefficient and wasteful traditional marketing. While traditional marketing has its place, there is a real opportunity for you to get in the game ahead of your slower, less sophisticated competitors.

However, with Facebook ads, we can make our traditional marketing that much more effective.

Facebook ads can easily integrate with your other traditional marketing efforts. It’s no surprise that integrating efforts like this improves overall response as well – multiple channels and multiple impressions help push the customer closer to a conversion. A consumer survey found that on average, people need more than 12 sources of influence before making a purchase decision (source: Think With Google).

If people hear a radio ad or see a print ad if they also see a targeted Facebook ad they are that much closer to becoming your restaurant customer. So for example, if you are doing any print marketing like mailing out postcards to a USPS carrier route around your restaurant, why not also run Facebook ads in those same neighborhoods as well right before you drop the postcard and then for some time after you drop the postcard? Don’t rely on just that one impression from the postcard, which by the way the majority throw directly into the trash.

Alternatively, what if you’re running local radio ads or a TV commercial?

Did you know you can target radio listeners of specific radio stations and TV shows on Facebook? In the below example, I’m targeting people in San Diego that listen to XETRA-FM, watch the Bravo TV station, and watch The Real Housewives series, and have household incomes in the top 10% - 25%, and also like the San Diego Padres. If you leverage Facebook ads and integrate them into your traditional marketing tactics, you will improve the “lift” or response from these traditional advertising tactics and will see far better results.

facebook ad targeting for specific tv radio shows
Facebook ad targeting for specific TV radio shows

Facebook Ad Tactic #6: Restaurant Job Ads

Many people are focused solely on Facebook marketing for new customers but don't forget, Facebook ads can be an effective tactic for recruiting employees and creating awareness that you're hiring. You can use Facebook's job title targeting to reach potential candidates for all sorts of job titles. These types of job ads generally cost very little since the audience with specific job titles is typically small compared to the retail market for promoting your food and catering services.

now hiring - restaurant facebook job ads
Use Facebook Ads As A Recruiting Tactic

Types of Facebook Ads For Your Tactics

Facebook offers some different ad formats for showcasing your restaurant’s promotions, brand, or specials. You can be incredibly creative with Facebook ads, and there are many ways to promote your restaurant with rich media.

  • Single Image Ads: these are the most common type of ad and run with only one image. These are fine and work well in Facebook for restaurants, but there are more options to utilize rich media and more creativity.
  • Video ads: do you have great video content? Maybe you had a promotional video made? Perhaps you can highlight the kitchen as the dishes are being prepared (one of the best experiences I have ever had was at a restaurant in downtown Cleveland sitting at the chef’s table – I had a front-row view of how the kitchen was operating, and it was completely fascinating). Video ads will stream through a user’s newsfeed and are on mute until they choose to hear the audio by tapping on the video.
  • Carousel ads: Maybe you have a 3-course executive lunch special. With carousel ads, users can scroll horizontally through different pictures of the lunch special. In this case, you could show each item with a call-to-action interlaced. This type of ad will give people a real sense for that particular lunch special. Or maybe you have many different offers – you can use carousel ads to highlight each type of promotion allowing people to scroll easily through them to find the most appealing.
  • Canvas ads: these types of ads are by far the richest and most engaging allowing you to really tell a story. They were designed to load extremely fast on mobile phones. With Canvas ads, you can blend in pictures and videos and users can scroll horizontally or vertically allowing them to really experience your brand.

Here’s an example Canvas ad from Facebook for Wendy’s:
facebook carousel restaurant carousel ad 1
Then the user scrolls down …
facebook carousel restaurant carousel ad 2
Clickable menu. And the user can scroll horizontally or vertically.
facebook carousel restaurant carousel ad 3
There’s far more to this Canvas ad than what is conveyed here, but they are very engaging and specifically designed to load quickly on mobile devices.

A Word Of Caution With Boost Posts

If you are already running Facebook ads but using Facebook Boost Post option from the page interface, you are missing the majority of what Facebook offers and I would encourage you to limit that usage. I wrote two related posts on the issues with using Facebook's Boost Post and another post on the differences between a Boost Post and Facebook Ad.

For another related post, how you can use Facebook's wifi access for free instantly valuable social exposure in Facebook - this is a no-brainer tactic for ANY restaurant.

Wrapping Up Facebook Ads For Restaurants

What I went through above was just a teaser of what’s possible with Facebook ads. The platform has so many options to be laser-focused and targeted with your ad spend. If you have a restaurant and have not leveraged Facebook ads to promote your food, specials, or entertainment, you are missing a grand opportunity to engage with new customers where your restaurant competition is not.

Have you tried advertising your restaurant on Facebook? Share your comments and questions below. And if you need help implementing a Facebook ad campaign for your restaurant, please contact us.


About the author 


Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several different companies throughout his career.

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