3 Steps to Create an Effective Facebook Ad for Restaurants


Facebook is an incredibly powerful and effective tool for marketing your restaurant. Whether you’re a high-end fine dining establishment, a wine bar, craft cocktail pub, or a seafood restaurant, you’ll find marketing on Facebook to be a highly cost-effective way to reach new and existing customers. This guide is to help you develop and execute your Facebook advertising strategy and campaign. Keep in mind, only 2% of your organic posts will be seen by your fans, so spending a little money on advertising on Facebook goes a long way!

Restaurant pages are one of my favorite business pages on Facebook. I always look up local restaurants and like to read the menu, see pictures of the establishment, and check the reviews. Before you begin a marketing campaign on Facebook, ensure your business is listed as a local business page, and you have all the proper information in place. See our previous blog, “How to Boost a Local Business on Facebook” on how to optimize your local business page. Once your page is setup properly, let’s start the marketing!


Step 1 – Identify Your Target Audience

In marketing lingo, we typically call your target audience your customer avatar or buyer persona (see our previous blog article about “Are You Still Waiting For Your Dream Client?”). You need to think about what type of customer you’re trying to attract to your particular restaurant. Is it designed for a younger crowd? Are you serving unusual foods and trying to attract foodies? What is the price point of your items? Are you looking for a high-end crowd or a more casual diner? Do you have an extraordinary wine selection for your customers? Does your restaurant offer catering?

Take the time to answer all these questions (and any others you think are relevant to your restaurant) to come up with your target audience. Identifying your customer avatar is the most important step before embarking on any marketing campaign. For an easy way to define your customer avatar, check out this guide from Digital Marketer: Customer Avatar Worksheet.

Step 2 – Define Your Goal

One quick thing before you begin defining your goal: Be sure to get a Facebook pixel to embed in your site. Facebook will create this snippet of code for you, and you simply embed it into your website. This nifty tool allows you to track where exactly your visitors are going on your website, how long they stay, etc. It gives you great insight into your audience, and you can use it in further retargeting campaigns down the line.

Once you’ve gotten your pixel set up, now it’s time to define the goal of your ad campaign. Do you simply want more followers for your page? If that’s your goal, you can use the “Like Page” objective ad campaign. Are you trying to get people to claim a special or coupon? Are you looking to get more engagement with your audience? Facebook put out a great article you can refer to help you reach your objective: Guide: Choosing the Right Advertising Objective.

Step Three – Target Your Audience

After you have your pixel in place and have defined your customer avatar and campaign goal, it’s time to target your audience. Since you’ve set up your page as a local business, you have many options for targeting your ad, so it reaches the customers you’re seeking.

Target your ad to reach local customers by choosing a location radius around your restaurant. If you’re in a densely populated area, you can choose a 10 or 25-mile radius. If you want to reach more people who may come to your restaurant as a destination, simply make the radius larger.

Now check out your ideal customer. Target your ad to appear in front of people who match your avatar. Chose the age range, income level, interests (food, fine dining, etc.), and any other demographics that match your avatar. Facebook will show you your estimated reach, and you can adjust the parameters of your targeting based on your ideal level of reach and budget. Obviously the more you spend on your ad, the more people will see it. Remember, you need to make sure it’s in front of the right people!


Ideas For Your Ad

Currently, Facebook tends to favor video ads, so putting together a short form video is an incredibly effective way to get your message across. You can showcase your establishment (this is a good opportunity to highlight a view if your restaurant has a particularly appealing visual setting), you can showcase some of your finest dishes, or highlight craft cocktails. Whatever you think makes your restaurant stand apart from your competitors, use that as your main focus of your video. IMPORTANT: Always add a strong call to action in your video or your ad copy. You need to encourage your audience to take a specific action (i.e., like our page for more information, click on link to get your discount now, etc.)

Another good reason to advertise with a video ad is to increase engagement. Facebook users tend to interact more with video ads than any other ad type. Your goal is to get as many people as possible to like your ad, comment on it, and share it. This increases your overall exposure and grows more awareness of your restaurant.

Quick Tip: Most Facebook users don’t listen to the video as they watch it, so adding text at the bottom of the video will still get your messaging across.

Carousel ads are another powerful ad type for restaurants. Upload attractive images of your food, cocktails, view, waitstaff, etc. that will rotate in a video fashion. Images induce emotions, so work to make your ad as attractive and inviting as possible. It’s your chance to woo new and existing customers to come and see the beauty of your creations and welcome them into your pleasant dining atmosphere.

As I stated above, there are numerous ad types you can utilize to market your establishment, so pick the one that best suits your ad goal and highlights your establishment in the best imaginable light.

Bonus Tips for Restaurants

MENU: I find nothing more annoying that looking at a restaurant page and not finding the menu. Please be sure to list your menu and update it as it changes.

SPECIALS: Also update your daily specials on your page. Let your customers know what’s fresh and on the menu, and attract more customers.

EVENTS: Do you have music at your establishment? If so, post your monthly line up and also publish posts leading up to the event. Send out invites to your fans to increase attendance and engagement.

HOURS OF OPERATION: It is important to keep your business hours up to date. If your restaurant is located in a seasonal location, it’s essential to update your hours if they change seasonally.

RETARGETING: Hopefully you are collecting email addresses of your fans either through your Facebook ads or directly on your website. Email campaigns are one of the most effective marketing tools available. Learn to set up a solid email nurturing campaign; this makes the customer feel like they have the inside scoop. Keep your emails friendly, inviting, and offer secret specials to your email list.

CATERING: If your restaurant also provides catering services, it’s important to target not only diners but also organizations that may want to use your catering services. You can use the steps above to create the ads, but now you should emphasize the catering side of your business and target potential clients in your ad much like you targeted directly to the diner.


Get Ready for the Big Rush!

Now you have all the tools and tips for marketing your restaurant on Facebook, so get ready to reap the benefits from smart marketing on Facebook. My favorite marketing quote is by Joe Chernov, “Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” Always keep that in mind when you’re marketing to your audience. You want your fans to feel like they’re getting the inside scoop and they’re smart for choosing to dine at your restaurant. Simple tools like ad copy, email campaigns, and general messaging can get the feeling across when it’s conveyed properly. Be inclusive, offer special deals, treat your audience like they’re part of the family.

I’m going to end with one last piece of advice: Always be responsive to your customers on social media. Just like you wouldn’t make a table wait ten minutes to place a drink order, stay on top of your customer engagement on social media. If they have a question, answer it promptly. If they share a post, thank them for sharing. If they have a complaint, solve it for them. This should come naturally to those in the hospitality industry. Treat your online audience the same as you would the patrons in your establishment. Good service is good service, both online and in person.

Are you a restaurant owner? Or a digital agency working for a restaurant? Still having challenges with Facebook ads? Please share your experiences either in a comment below or in our closed Facebook group. 🙂


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