Facebook Ads for Restaurants: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Marylise Fabro

Having a social media presence is absolutely crucial for restaurants, and with around 2.8 billion monthly active users on Facebook, you can’t afford to ignore the platform when it comes to marketing.

In the movie “Field of Dreams,” there’s a famous line: If you build it he will come. While this is a great concept for a movie, it doesn’t work that way for restaurants. Just because you exist doesn’t mean diners will simply start lining up outside your door. Marketing is necessary. And the way restaurants market themselves has changed greatly over the years with the advent of the internet and social media.

Having a social media presence is absolutely crucial for restaurants, and with around 2.8 billion monthly active users on Facebook, you can’t afford to ignore the platform when it comes to marketing.

Creating a Facebook page for your business is a must, and it’s the first step if you want to take advantage of the great ability of the platform to allow you to target ads to the specific types of patrons you seek to attract. A restaurant Facebook page should include information such as your address, opening hours, a link to your website, some kind of widget or link for people who want to make a reservation at your restaurant, and a phone number.

Create a strategy for your restaurant’s Facebook ad campaign

A restaurant should not leap right into placing ads before putting together a strategy for the effort. Once you have your Facebook page set up, you need to answer three important questions:

Why are you doing this? – You need to know the purpose of an ad campaign before you create your first ad. Do you want to get more people into your restaurant? Do you want to simply raise awareness about your restaurant and drive traffic to your website? Establish a clear goal for your ad campaign.

  • What is your budget? – You can’t just start an ad campaign without first setting a limit on how much money you want to spend on it. This could lead to serious problems down the road if you just set up an ad campaign and run it indefinitely without regard to the total cost.
  • Who do you want to reach? – It’s important to think about your restaurant’s ideal customers and write down as many specifics as you can about their demographics. What is the age group of your ideal patron? Where do they live?
  • How will you know if your ad is successful? – As with any goal, you need to know how you will measure your success in reaching that goal. You should have mechanisms in place that can determine whether your Facebook ad was effective at bringing more people in the door, getting more visits to your website, or whatever the ultimate goal of your ad was.

Setting up your restaurant’s first Facebook ad

First, click the button for “Create ad” to get started. Now, you’ll be given lots of options to choose from as you go through the process of creating your new ad.

1. Goal

Facebook offers several options to choose from, including “Get more website visitors” and “Get more leads.” You can even select “Automatic” and it will choose for you based on the criteria you enter later in the process.

2. Shuffle creative

This is an optional choice and will entail setting up multiple headlines and other details, which will enable Facebook to play around and decide which headlines work best with which demographics.

3. Ad creative

Now we’re into the heart of setting up your restaurant’s ad. You can choose to either use an existing post of yours as the ad, or you can write new text, add photos or videos, and craft a catchy headline. Your ad will have a button, and Facebook presents 17 pre-set button labels, including Book now, See menu, and Learn more. Then you add a URL that you wish your button to take the visitor to.

4. Advantage + creative

Similar to the Shuffle creative option above, this is an optional setting that leverages Facebook’s treasure trove of data and lets them deliver different ad variations to different people. One note of warning: this puts Facebook in control of deciding who gets to see which of your ads.

5. Special ad category

If you are creating a Facebook ad to drive more traffic to your restaurant, this option will not apply to you. It is only for ads about credit, employment, housing, social issues, elections, or politics.

6. Audience

Here, you will be given several options to choose from. You can select people who like your page, people who like your page and people similar to them, people you choose through targeting, or Facebook’s “Advantage Audience” category. For the latter two options, you will be able to customize audience details like gender, age, locations, and other detailed targeting characteristics like interests.

7. Duration

You can either run an ad campaign indefinitely or you can set a specific end date for your ad. For example, you may run a special holiday ad campaign that would not make sense to continue after the holidays are over.

8. Daily budget

Here’s where your planning comes in handy. If you have set a specific budget for the entire ad campaign, you can divide that amount by the number of days for the campaign to get your daily budget. Facebook sets a minimum ad spend of US$2.00 or €2.00 per day.

9. Placements

If you want your restaurant’s ad to appear on Instagram and Messenger in addition to Facebook, you can select those options as well. Or you can choose to just have the ads appear on Facebook.

10. Meta Pixel

Facebook offers the ability to create a special pixel to be placed on your website for additional tracking purposes and to determine if the ad resulted in more people viewing your website and what actions they performed while they were on your website.

11. Payment

After you set up your payment option, then you’ll be able to publish your ad.

Measuring your restaurant’s Facebook ad performance

Depending on your goal, you will need to determine how your ad is performing toward that goal. For example, if you wanted to get more people in your restaurant door, your ad can offer a special discount code. You can track how many patrons use that discount code for an idea of how many people came to your restaurant through the ad.

Alternatively, you can measure how many clicks there were on your ad, particularly if your goal was to drive more traffic to your website or to get people to view your menu.

Optimizing restaurant Facebook ads to improve performance

If you don’t see a significant enough success rate toward your goal, you can adjust the ad text to see if one version works better than another for getting the results you want. Another way to improve performance is to check your targeting – perhaps your original targeting was too limiting and your ad is not being shown to enough potential patrons.

Design is also important when it comes to a Facebook ad. Try different types of images – pictures of your top entrees or of the interior of your restaurant are two options. You may also want to consider incorporating video, which has become much more popular and effective in ad design on social platforms.

Taking a holistic view of your restaurant marketing strategy

It’s important to not simply set up your ads and let them run until your budget runs out. You need to test and refine them to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. 

Another important point to remember: Facebook ads should be just a part of a more comprehensive marketing strategy that includes Google Ads and social media. Once you have a Facebook page for your restaurant, use it regularly to connect with your community – and to build it up – via regular, engaging posts. 

Ensuring that your multiple marketing efforts are working together harmoniously is the best way to get more customers in the door of your restaurant, driving your growth and the sustainability of your business over the long run.

Based on Complete Guide to Facebook Ads for Restaurants