How To: #Local Social Media – Restaurant Edition

How To: Local Marketing & Advertising #restaurant edition – Marketing Monday –  This is the first installment in my how to local marketing & advertising series – discover how to get new & existing customers through your door via marketing & advertising.

social media for local businesses

Ever since moving to the Rochester, NY area two years ago, my fiance and I have enjoyed immersing ourselves into everything that Rochester has to offer. When we moved to Rochester, we knew nobody, so we relied on social media, yelp, and direct mail to guide us.

Fast forward two years and we are constantly getting asked how we find out about all the fun things we are doing and the answer is always: local advertising and social media.

I started my quest to find fun and exciting things to do by heading to Instagram. Instagram makes it incredibly easy to find local places, people, and events by the use of hashtags, places, and their internal search. I started off by using the hashtag #rochesterny. From there, it easy gave me access to find users who specialized in the Rochester area. After following a user, Instagram displays three similar users. Most of the time, those three users also are of interest to me. 

For this first installment, I am going to concentrate on how restaurants can use local advertising and social media to get new and existing customers in the door. Stay tuned for future editions about local stores, museums, and many more!

Last week, my fiance and I stopped by our favorite local irish pub for dinner. To our surprise, we found out it was Trivia Night. Our dinner & a beer turned into a night of trivia + many more beers. It got me thinking about how local businesses can draw customers in and get them to spend more time and in return get them to spend more. 

The key to advertising a local restaurant is social media. 

Social Media for a New RestaurantTips and tricks on how to generate a buzz prior to opening. 

Prior to opening, a restaurant should start building their social media fan base. Engaged community members want to know everything and anything about their community. They want to be the first one to tell their neighbors that a new burger place is opening up soon.  Capitalizing on this need to be “in-the-know” is a great way to gain new followers.

Facebook and Instagram ads are a relatively inexpensive way to gather some buzz surrounding your business. When building out your ads, be sure to utilize demographic and geographic data to target potential customers. 

While running these ads, you should consistently be posting to your page. Updates on the interior and exterior, hints to the menu, images of dishes….people love getting a behind the scenes glimpse before launch.

Once you have a grand opening date set, start posting teasers leading up to the final reveal. Create an event for the grand opening and send out an invite to all followers. 

Always remember to engage with your followers – post questions, encourage conversation, and always remember to respond to every comment (when it warrants a response).

It is important, more than ever, to capitalize on generating buzz prior to launch.

Local Facebook Groups
Another great way to get the word out there about your new venture, is to locate local Facebook groups. For instance, I am a member of 5 Facebook groups for my town, one specifically is: Restaurants, Eateries, and Bars of the Webster, NY area. This page would be a great place for a new restaurant to post on. Posting here is a free way to get some buzz going. Its acceptable to post multiple times as long as the content is worthy of posting – would others find this content interesting.
1. Coming Soon: New Restaurant specializing in X. Opening in X.
2. Coming Soon – Check out our menu.
3. Coming Soon – Images of exterior & interior.
4. Grand Opening – This would be a great place to advertise a soft launch where you invite members of the community to come in try out the restaurant during both the soft launch and the grand opening.


Yelp is a great way to find local businesses. Users simply enter what they are looking for and based on location, results show up. You can sort by best rating, distance, hot and new, etc. to narrow down results. Users can submit reviews, images, and tips per restaurant.

Prior to opening, create a Yelp page for your business. Fill out everything you can (website, hours, menu, parking). Creating the page makes it easier for your customers to leave a review.

Social Media for an Established RestaurantTips and tricks on how to get new & current customers in the door.

You have an established fan base, are packed to the gills on Friday & Saturday nights but are wondering how to get people in the door on slower-moving days…enter promotions.

Trivia Night – All it takes is some research (for the trivia questions), printed out trivia boards, and a microphone (depending on the size of the place). Announce to every patron that walks in the door  that trivia night is happening and hand them a board & a pen. Its important to slow the game down by spacing out the questions. Nobody wants to be so immersed in the game that they can’t converse with the people they are there with. Bonus – it keeps customers lingering for longer.  Offering a food special is a great way to get people to also order food such as $5 appetizers throughout the game. 

I’ve seen places offer Trivia night starting as early as 7 and as late as 10:30. I personally enjoy it better when it starts earlier which allows me to enjoy dinner while we play. When it starts later, we’ll usually order an app or two to snack on but I’m apt to stay longer when the game starts earlier.

Its important to offer prizes that bring customers back into the restaurant such as a gift certificate in different denominations depending on what place they ranked. I also enjoy when they offer a consolation prize for doing something other than answering a trivia question. For instance, the team with the best drawing wins X. So even if the team isn’t great at Trivia, it stills give them a shot at winning a prize.

Bingo Night – This is very similar to Trivia Night except this is a solo game with multiple rounds and a grand prize winner at the end. The benefit to Bingo Night is that there can be a lot of winners since there will typically be at least 5 games. 

Happy Hours – Offering a happy hours is a great way to get a group of coworkers in the door. 

Late Night Eats – Kitchen open late. Advertising that your kitchen is open late is an excellent way to capture a new segment of customers by offering something that not a lot of restaurants offer.

Its important to continue to grow your social following for an established restaurant. By posting images of new menu items or nightly specials gets people back in the door. When it looks that good, I just have to try it. Don’t be afraid to ask people what they like or dislike about your restaurant. Even though its intimidating finding out what people hate about your place, but its a great way to make your place better.

How has a local restaurant gotten you in the door?