restaurant facebook ads

Some states have started to pull back on social distancing measures, but it doesn’t mean customers are going to come running back. As much as everyone would like to leave their house and have everything return to normal, 70% of Americans still think the best plan of action right now is to social distance, even at the risk of the economy. 

Building Facebook ads for your restaurant is a great first step to promoting your online ordering menu, but you have to keep in mind that you’re competing (as you were before) against every other online menu in your area. It’s important for your restaurant to show up as often as possible on customer’s Facebook feeds to nab that order. As the economy slowly reopens in the next few months, you’ll want to capitalize on the returning dine-in customers, as well as those still playing it safe and staying home.

How to Build a Facebook Ad for Your Restaurant

Step 1: Create a Facebook Business Account for your Restaurant

You can’t run ads for your business on Facebook without a Facebook Business Account, which makes sense. Luckily, Facebook has resources detailing how to create a Facebook Business Account. Even if you’re not ready to spend money on reaching customers through the platform, you should definitely create a business page for your restaurant. Digital marketing on social platforms, especially Facebook, is key if you want to promote your online offerings.

Step 2: Create a Facebook Campaign for Your Restaurant

Once you have an account, you’ll want to go to the Ads Manager dashboard on your business account. You’ll see a tab labeled “Campaigns” and you’re going to want to click the big green “+ Create” button. Here, you can name your campaign, select the “Buying Type” (just use Auction, it’s the simplest), and the objective of your campaign. 

Restaurants need to analyze costs of pos, payments, and more

Step 3: Create a Facebook Ad Set for Your Restaurant

Once your campaign is created, it will ask you to make an “Ad Set,” which is basically just saying who you want to see your ad on Facebook. Here you can create your budget. Your budget can be Daily or Lifetime. I always choose a Lifetime Budget because I’m super forgetful, and if I forget to log on to Facebook for a few days I won’t get back on to find out I accidentally spent $150 in three days that I wasn’t planning on. 

Next, you can select the start and end dates of your Facebook campaign. If you click “Show More Options” underneath the start and end dates as well, you can schedule your ads to run during certain hours of the day. For an online ordering ad, you should only be running your ads during your operating hours or when preordering is available.

Once your timeline is set, you can target customers by location. Type your restaurant’s address in the location bar and set the radius to however far you want. Hospitality marketing and branding expert Rev Ciancio recommends no more than a three-mile radius, and down to one or two miles for restaurants located in densely populated areas. 

Lastly, you want to select the “Optimization for Delivery.” You can optimize for:

  • Impressions: The number of times your ad is shown to anyone.
  • Reach: The number of people exposed to your ad.
  • Link Clicks: The number of times someone clicks on your ad.
  • Landing Page Views: The number of times someone clicks through to the page you want to send them to.

We recommend “Link Clicks” as the objective because ultimately your goal is to get people to click through to your online menu.

Step 4: Create the Copy and Image for Your Restaurant’s Facebook Ad

Once you’ve got a campaign and an ad set, you can move on to the fun part: actually creating the advertisement people are going to see in their Facebook feeds. The first step to this is uploading media. Because of Facebook’s formatting, we suggest a 1080×1080 image. We also suggest you include professional photos of your food, drinks, or logo.

Then, it’s time to write the copy for your Facebook ad. There’s the Primary Text, which is the longer message you have to say. There’s the Headline, which you would probably just want to be your restaurant’s name. Lastly, there’s the Description, which we would suggest is just the City, State of where your restaurant is located.

Here is a sample ad we created using our friends at Bywater as an example:

bywater restaurant facebook ad

The final destination on our ad building journey is the Destination section (see what I did there?). Here, you can choose your Website URL (which is where people who click on the ad will be sent), your Display Link (your “.com”), and then your Call To Action, which for most online ordering pages should be “See Menu.” The last thing to do is hit Publish! Facebook will then review your ad to make sure it fits their advertising guidelines and if it all checks out, it’ll be on timelines in no time and you’ll be raking in new customers!

3 Tips for Creating High-performing Restaurant Facebook Ads 

1. Use High-quality Photos

If you can’t hire a professional photographer to take photos of your online ordering menu items, here are a few tips on taking high-quality photos yourself:

  • Lighting is key. For food, indirect natural lighting is best. Take photos of your dishes near a window or out on your patio. If you’re shooting outdoors, be conscious of the time of day – the bright, direct noontime sun will cause photos to look blown out and create harsh shadows. Early morning or late afternoon/evening is best.
  • Compose the shot. When used appropriately, props can help give customers an accurate picture of what they should expect. “One thing customers hate is to see a big picture of a dish only to find that, in real life, it’s much smaller. When appropriate, add little things that help show the relative size of the dish: salt and pepper shakers, a side of sauce, chopsticks, a fork, etcetera,” says photographer William Haynes.
  • Make dishes look appetizing.  “We take the images that really show what’s in the item,” says CEO and chairman of I Heart Mac and Cheese, Stephen Giordanella. “For example, instead of showing a grilled cheese, we open up the grilled cheese, show some of what’s inside falling out, and get shots of cheese being poured on top of it. Showing the image as a final product is beautiful, but showing the image as it’s being created is both creative and more interesting to see.”

taking a photo of food with iphone

2. Create a Call-to-Action that Appeals to Your Audience

As much as the food photos are going to drive clicks on Facebook, encouraging customers to “Support local restaurants!” in the ad copy can drive engagement compared to generic copy. People still want food from their favorite eateries, and if you ask for their support during these difficult times, it just gives them one more reason to put in a takeout order.

People are seeing their favorite local restaurant names popping up on their Facebook feeds and heading to their online ordering pages to support them. It’s a perfect system. Restaurants can provide customers with delicious food, and customers can order from them and feel like the economic hero of small businesses, rather than just someone who’s too lazy to cook. 

If you’re anything like me, you realize you can only have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so many times until you start to lose the sensation of taste. People are turning to their local eateries for a break from making meals, it’s just a matter of enabling each business with the option to still serve their customers through online ordering

3. Monitor Performance and Adjust Your Ads as Needed

If your restaurant Facebook ads aren’t performing as you hoped, don’t trash them! While there are best practices, there is no right or wrong way to build and run an ad on Facebook. Give the ad a good 5-7 days to run and if the results still aren’t there try changing your headline, photo, adjusting your location radius, or bumping up your spend. 

Just remember – don’t change everything at once! If you adjust all the above factors, you’ll never know which element made your ads better. Change one thing, like the photo, first and if you’re still not seeing the results you want after a couple of days, change something else. Once you get the hang of what works best for your location and customer base, you’ll be a restaurant Facebook ads pro in no time.

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Written by   |  
Ryan McSweeney started his restaurant career as a dish-washer at the Sundae School Ice Cream Parlor in Dennisport, Massachusetts. For five years he served Cape Cod vacationers the biggest scoops of their favorite flavors. He spent many more years in the service industry, and brings his knowledge and love for the restaurant-world to Upserve where he provides the best restaurant technology to restaurateurs around the country.