10 Trending TikTok Ideas for Restaurants (With Examples)
TikTok has quickly risen from a novel social media app to a critical part of restaurants’ marketing strategies. Now, restaurants that create engaging, viral videos on TikTok get rewarded with followers, press, and sales.
But if your restaurant isn’t already on TikTok, you might wonder where to begin or how to leverage this marketing tool to convert views into dollars. We’re answering those questions and more in this guide to TikTok for restaurants.
TikTok is an app-based social media platform in which users post short videos that are accompanied by music or narration. While the app originally rose to fame because of viral imitation dance videos, TikTok is now also being used by businesses for creative marketing.
Much like other social networks, TikTok relies on an algorithm to show people videos they’ll find interesting based on other videos they’ve engaged with. Its location feature makes it easier for your establishment to show up in restaurant searches (if you’re based in the U.S.) Experiment with popular TikTok hashtags to help you brainstorm social media content ideas and help users find you.
Finally, its unique sounds feature differentiates your content from other social media platforms. From songs to memorable quotes, you can lay sounds over videos. Plus, sounds double as a discovery tool; users can tap a sound tagged in a TikTok video to find other videos that use the same sound.
Why are Restaurants Using TikTok?
So, what do viral dances and memeable sounds have to do with restaurants? Restaurants are incorporating TikTok into their social media marketing strategies for a number of reasons, including:
Attracting new customers. Roughly one in two millennials and two in five TikTok users, in general, have visited a restaurant after seeing it on the platform, proving that views can turn into dollars.
Connecting with younger generations. With 67% of Americans under the age of 19 and 56% of Americans aged 20-29 using TikTok, TikTok is the platform restaurants are using to engage with Gen Z.
Being playful with branding and marketing. TikTok is still a platform ripe for experimentation and is less “polished” than platforms like Instagram and Facebook have become.
10 Trending TikTok Ideas for Restaurants
Check out the most popular types of videos restaurants are creating on TikTok, then use these social media tips to create your own trending TikToks.
1. Make Your Signature Dish Go Viral
Going viral is the key to TikTok success. The more eyeballs you have on your TikTok account’s content, the more people you’ll eventually inspire to come to your restaurant. Generate hype around your signature dishes and attract foodies by leveraging a trending sound or hashtag in a way that’s relevant to the dish, or simply by making it look utterly irresistible.
FYI: Every restaurant hopes their social posts go viral at some point, but it shouldn’t be your only goal on TikTok. Slow and steady growth on social media can be just as effective for generating business. Commit to a consistent posting schedule and let your food speak for itself.
2. Engage in TikTok Challenges
Take advantage of a trending challenge — usually an outrageous activity — to catapult your content on TikTok and earn you new eyes and followers. Put your own spin on the challenge to make it memorable and true to your brand.
TikTok thrives on people repeating what others have already done. In addition to participating in existing challenges, why not create your own TikTok challenge and make it go viral?
For example, promoting a challenge like an eating contest might encourage customers to order more than normal. And by sharing your challenge via TikTok, you could inspire people to travel to visit your restaurant.
Inspiration: Take inspiration from Chicago-based spicy chicken restaurant Hot Chi, which challenges customers to try their spiciest sandwich. Or, create a challenge that involves eating a large volume of your food, like Pizza Hut’s slice challenge.
4. Work With Influencers
Partner with foodie influencers to create sponsored content on behalf of your restaurant that’s more relatable to audiences than traditional advertising. Host influencer-only live events at your restaurant to incentivize content, or partner with influencers formally through TikTok’s Creator Marketplace.
Inspiration: Zuma partnered with Na’el Abu Al Teen, a TikTok influencer with 2.8 million followers, to create this video of him enjoying a meal at their scenic Mykonos location.
Heads up! Drool-worthy content like this tends to cause a spike in reservation requests (it did for Zuma). SevenRooms’ direct reservation solutions can help ensure you satisfy guest requests and reduce booking costs. Reach out today to schedule a demo.
5. Show Off Merch
In addition to connecting with local followers, you can engage with (and profit from) global users by selling merchandise and showing it off on TikTok.
Wear merchandise in all of your TikTok videos for subtle advertising, or create videos that explicitly promote your branded t-shirts, pantry items, cookbooks, and more. If you don’t have merch yet, create polls and surveys on TikTok that ask followers to vote on which merchandise you should introduce.
Inspiration: Dunkin’ shows off its colorful, on-brand merchandise line in this fun TikTok. The video follows the “day in the life” format that’s popular on TikTok.
6. Preview New Menu Items
Gauge interest and create hype for new menu items by previewing them on TikTok. Give followers a sneak peek and ask them to share what kinds of things they’d like to see on your menu.
You can also use TikTok to share unofficial menu “hacks” that customers like to order or that your team comes up with.
Beyond showing how something is made, use TikTok to give followers an inside look into other aspects of the business. For example, you could create a funny series about the realities of working in a restaurant. These kinds of TikTok videos can also support hiring initiatives as they show off your culture and strengthen your brand.
Takeout and delivery are popular, but not everything travels or reheats well. Create TikToks in which you explain the best items on your menu for takeout and delivery.
Expand on the concept by creating a series about best practices for reheating meals. For example, you could advise customers to reheat fries in an air fryer instead of in a microwave for maximum crispiness.
If you hear the same questions about your menu items time and time again, why not answer them on TikTok? If you don’t get this kind of feedback from customers, you could also answer questions like: “What are the most popular items on the menu?”; “What are your vegetarian options?”; and “How can customers place an order for delivery?”
Inspiration: Hot Chi made a TikTok answering one of their customers’ most frequently asked questions: are their chicken sandwiches halal?
Measure the Impact of Your TikTok Campaigns
Exploring TikTok as a social media strategy will require a bit of trial and error. As you embark on your TikTok journey, remember to measure the impact of your campaigns to learn what works and what doesn’t. Use tracking links as you promote your event landing pages and reservation widget on TikTok to understand how your content affects conversions.
1. How is TikTok Changing the Restaurant Industry?
With the majority of TikTok users under the age of 30, the platform is changing the restaurant industry by giving restaurants a new way to reach and engage with younger customers near and far.
2. How Do You Attract Customers on TikTok?
To attract customers via TikTok, you need to post regularly, and engage with and imitate trending content. Promote reservations and events through TikTok, and use tracking links to understand how they impact conversions.