Lacking the marketing budget of big chains, independent restaurant operators have to tap their creative skills in the rapidly expanding social media world to reach customers where they are.
And that means becoming adept with free or low-cost platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and even podcasts, which offer opportunities to stand out in ways that a Facebook page or Twitter account may lack.
These programs have the potential to reach hundreds of millions of people and often require very little money to create a viral post. Many of these apps can utilize user-generated content and influencers can be a game changer. And the return on a little investment in creativity can be vast.
Earlier this year, the story of a Dallas restaurant that was saved by a viral TikTok created by the owner’s grandson earned national headlines, and restaurants awoke to the power of the platform downloaded by nearly 29 million people in the U.S. last year alone.
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Here’s a look at how four restaurants have used social media to build an audience, from Tiktok and Instagram, to YouTube and podcasts.