Why You Need Facebook and Instagram Ads for Your Restaurant

by Toby

February 1, 2024

Facebook and Instagram Ads Grow Restaurant Sales

In the crowded and ever-evolving world of social media, getting your restaurant noticed is a constant challenge. 

Simply posting updates on Facebook or Instagram isn't enough to cut through the noise anymore. Most importantly, posting content will NOT move your sales or profit in a meaningful and measurable way.

Here's why...

Organic social reach has its limitations, and competition for attention is fierce in the news feed without ads. At best, your local organic posts will only reach a small percentage your page's fan, and very few of your ideal local target audience. Many pages only reach low single digits of their page fans. 

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This is where social media advertising comes in as a powerful ally for restaurant owners, social media managers, and marketing professionals looking to increase visibility and attract diners.

Let's dive into why leveraging Facebook and Instagram ads is not just a good idea but a crucial strategy for the success of your restaurant.

The Limitations of Organic Posts

While organic posts are the backbone of your social media presence, they have inherent limitations.

Reach and Engagement Don't Come Easy: Gone are the days when a simple post could reach your entire audience.

Today, social media platforms employ complex algorithms prioritizing certain content, often relegating your organic posts to obscurity. After all, if every brand had access to your news feed with every post, it would be a mess, and people wouldn't use social media.

Increased Competition for Attention: As the number of businesses on social media grows, so does the competition for users' attention. Your daily specials or chef's features might get lost in a feed filled with content from countless other eateries.

The Algorithm Conundrum: Social media algorithms constantly change, and what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. This unpredictability is a headache for organic efforts and necessitates a more stable and strategic approach from ads.

Benefits of Facebook and Instagram Ads

Thankfully, social media advertising on platforms like Facebook and Instagram provides a wealth of benefits that can help overcome these limitations.

  • Targeted Advertising Options: With ad platforms, you can target specific demographics, interests, and even behaviors—ensuring your ads are seen by those most likely to dine at your establishment. (read my blog post about a local Benihana marketing blunder case study)
  • Increased Visibility and Reach: Paid social exponentially broadens your outreach beyond organic limits, getting your message in front of a larger, more diverse audience.
  • Tracking and Analytics: Advertising gives you access to sophisticated insights. You can track clicks, engagement, and conversions in real time, allowing you to iterate and optimize your campaigns for maximum effectiveness.
  • Customization and Creativity: Ads allow for a level of creativity that's just not feasible with organic posts. From carousel ads to video stories, the options for showcasing your restaurant's brand and offerings are nearly endless.

Case Study Example

Let's look at some Instagram posts from a restaurant near our office. This is the Brunch House, which is very close to where I work and live. 

The Brunch House Instagram Profile

The Brunch House Instagram Profile

From scrolling through the Instagram profile, they have a lot of nice quality content that showcases the restaurant well. 

We can see they have good engagement, a lot of followers, and lots of views on their Reels.

But remember, followers do not equate to sales for many reasons. 

You have no control over who sees your organic posts and who doesn't. Nor where those posts show geographically. The result of this - little to no influence to really move sales and profit up.

But this post is not to discourage you from posting organic content, but rather that you need ads to drive sales and results. 

Killer Ad targeting options that are available on Instagram and Facebook. 

  • Location Targeting: You can specify your targeting to include people within a 4-mile radius of your restaurant. This area can be your restaurant's address or a central location within the city if you aim to attract customers from specific neighborhoods.
  • Demographics: Depending on your restaurant's concept and menu, you might target specific age groups, genders, or other demographic details. For example, if your brunch menu appeals to young professionals, you might target individuals aged 25-40.
  • Interests: Facebook allows you to target users based on their interests. For a brunch restaurant, you could target people interested in:
  • Gourmet food, cooking, and recipes.
  • Local food events, farmer's markets, or food festivals.
  • Specific diets (vegan, gluten-free, etc.) if your menu caters to these.
  • Coffee and tea enthusiasts if your beverages are a highlight.
  • Behaviors: Look for behaviors that might indicate a potential customer for your restaurant. This can include:
  • People who have recently moved to your area.
  • Individuals who engage in online food delivery services but might be persuaded to dine in.
  • Frequent travelers (who might be looking for a local dining experience).
  • Engagement: Target people who have interacted with your page or similar businesses. This includes:
  • Users who have liked or commented on your restaurant's Facebook page. And since you can limit your geotargeting with ads, you can limit where these ads show to only those likely to visit. 
  • People who have engaged with pages related to local dining, brunch spots, or culinary experiences in your city.
  • Custom Audiences: If you have a list of past customers (from loyalty programs, online bookings, etc.), you can create a Custom Audience to retarget them. This is effective for bringing back customers who have already visited your restaurant.
  • Lookalike Audiences: After establishing a Custom Audience, you can expand your reach by targeting a Lookalike Audience. Facebook identifies users similar to your current customers, helping you reach people likely to be interested in your offering.
  • Connection Type: Target friends of people who have interacted with your page or attended your events, leveraging social proof to attract new customers.

Local Geotargeting

The example here shows the geotargeting of 5 miles around the location of The Brunch House. With this geotargeting alone, there are over 100,000 people in the audience. 

Facebook Instagram Ads Geotargeting 5 Mile Radius

Facebook Instagram Ads Geotargeting 5 Mile Radius

Narrow Down the Audience - Detailed Targeting Options

We added additional targeting with demographics - all genders, age 20 - 65+ - and additional detailed targeting examples.

Notice that we added "recently moved" as a target - this is a great opportunity to reach people who are just establishing their routines for where they shop in your area. 

Facebook Instagram Detailed Targeting for Restaurants

Facebook Instagram Detailed Targeting for Restaurants

And with the detailed demographics and targeting, we still have 66,000 - 78,000 people to target. You can never achieve this level of reach and success with just organic posts. 

Facebook Instagram Ads Audience Size Restaurant

Facebook Instagram Ads Audience Size Restaurant

Optimizing Ads for Restaurants

When it comes to creating ads for your restaurant, here are some critical areas to focus on for optimal performance.

Choosing the Right Audience: This is one of the biggest advantages of social media advertising. Ensure you're targeting not just a broad audience, but the specific customer personas that are most likely to convert.

Compelling Ad Content: Your ad copy and creatives need to grab attention and convey the unique value proposition of your restaurant. Use offers, testimonials, and storytelling to make your ads compelling.

Visual Appeal: Stunning visuals are a must. In the food industry, people eat with their eyes first, so your content should be visually appetizing and reflective of your brand's aesthetic.

Incorporating Strong Calls-to-Action (CTAs): Don't leave your audience hanging. Whether it's 'Book Now', 'Reserve a Table', or 'Order Online', make sure your CTA is clear and urges action.

By paying attention to these elements, your ads will not just be seen but acted upon.

Budget and ROI Considerations

Social media advertising is as much art as it is science. It's crucial to strike the right balance between budget and expected return on investment (ROI).

Set a Realistic Budget: The beauty of these platforms is their flexibility. You can start small and scale up as you see results. Understand what each customer acquisition is worth to your business and let that guide your investment.

Measuring and Tracking ROI: Use the provided analytics to understand what's working and what isn't. Measuring ROI isn't just about sales; it's about building long-term customer relationships, too.

Adjusting Strategies for Better Results: The data should inform your decisions. If certain ads or targeting strategies are underperforming, be ready to pivot. Always be testing and optimizing.

In Conclusion

With the right approach, Facebook and Instagram ads can be a restaurant's best friend. They offer targeted reach, creative freedom, and measurable returns that can make a significant impact on your bottom line. It's time to harness the power of social media advertising to ensure your culinary creations aren't just seen, but savored. Embrace the digital age and enjoy a seat at the table of success.

About the author 

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

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