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How to Get Your Restaurant to Go Viral on Tik Tok

Learn why the popular video app TikTok makes a great way to advertise your restaurant as well as tips for creating your own viral content.

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These days, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the reach of TikTok. 

What started as a music and video platform for Gen Z has not so slowly become the fastest-growing media channel worldwide and the most downloaded app in the App Store.

In the U.S., the number of adults on the platform has grown from 2.6 million in 2017 to 14.3 million as of last September — a 550% increase. And the content you’ll find on the app varies from the original music and dancing displays to mini vlogs, cooking channels, even news reports!

Known by users for its never-ending stream of entertaining 15-60 second videos, the magic of TikTok for advertisers lives underneath the hood of the “For You Page” or (FYP). 

The FYP is a kind of personalized homepage that each user lands on when they open the app. The videos that appear on that page are based on information like your location, previous videos you’ve watched, videos you’ve liked, and hashtags you’ve interacted with. 

For viewers, this means hours of perfectly curated entertainment. But for advertisers, it’s also a near-perfect way to get your information fast-tracked towards your target audience.

The question is, how do you get there? 

7 Tips and Ideas to Create Viral Restaurant Tik Toks to Get You on the FYP

For a local restaurant that is sick of battling the Google and review site algorithms, Tik Tok may provide you with priceless exposure at next to no cost.

The challenge of course is how to land your spot on the FYP effectively making your restaurant go “viral”. While partially up to chance, we’ve got a host of tips guaranteed to get you exposure. 

Share Your Recipes 

One of the most popular trends among restaurants on TikTok is recipe sharing. When COVID shut down dining rooms around the country folks became ravenous for ways to recreate their favorite dishes at home, and the trend hasn’t slowed down since. 

Accounts like @thequarentinecookingshow use quick jump cuts, simple tools, and lively narration to recreate favorites like the Big Mac copycat recipe below that generated tons of traction from fans of the original. 

@thequarantinecookingshow

Homemade BIG MAC with Special Sauce 🔥 ##fyp ##foryou ##bigmac ##mcdonalds ##recipe ##food ##cooking ##keepingbusy ##fire

♬ Happy Now – Instrumental Kygo, Sandro Cavazza Mix – Alba

Utilize Smart Hashtags

As we mentioned earlier, hashtags are a great way to connect with popular content and, in turn, boost your content closer to the FYP. The trick is to piggyback off the hashtags your competitors are using to ensure you’re reaching the same folks. 

Additionally, you can take advantage of free hashtag finder tools, like TikTokHashtags.com, that can generate the most relevant tags for your type of content. Just enter a topic, your industry, and any other relevant keywords to unlock what’s trending on the app! Copy and paste the tags into your video, then post!

Create a Contest

Another staple in the world of viral TikToks is the contest community. Big chains like Chipotle have paved the way for food and beverage-related challenges when they launched their lid flip challenge last year. They created a video encouraging customers to post their own videos flipping their burrito bowl lids in creative ways. The result was more than 100 MILLION views on the original video and a record-breaking digital sales day.

@mvnnyrose

here are some lid flip fails for y’all 😂##ChipotleLidFlip @chipotle ##foryoupage##foryou

♬ Flip – Future

Offer Behind the Scenes Secrets 

Similar to recipe sharing, another compelling fad among foodies on the app are secrets of the trade directly from chefs. Give your customers a glimpse into your kitchen or your tricks for making your signature dish so special. 

It may seem mundane, but Brandon Murphy, Kitchen Manager at Liberty Hall Pizza in Lambertville, N.J., proves its success with his more than 200,000 followers. All he does is film himself making pizzas in their signature wood-fired oven, but on the day he filmed the first video he had over 50,000 views by the time his five-hour shift ended!

@pizzamanbran

#foryou #wholesomecontent #pizza #pizzalovers #margherita

♬ Lets make a pizza – Brandon M

Work With Micro-Influencers

Building up a following can take time, but that doesn’t mean your restaurant can’t hit the limelight right away. Micro-influencers (anyone with 1,000-50,000 followers) are all over the app and often easy to find if they’re local to your area. Oftentimes they’ll be willing to post about your restaurant in exchange for a free meal as opposed to a hefty price-per-post that larger influencers charge. 

With an app like TikTik, these local micro-influencers can be hugely impactful for business because they deliver active and engaging video content as opposed to a static Instagram post. That kind of exposure, to even a few thousand folks, is well worth the cost of a few entrées! 

Feature Your Restaurant as an Event-Based Video

TikTok is a popular place to search for shopping and crafting hacks, but it’s also commonly used by viewers as a way to find cool things to do, especially when traveling. In order to capture the attention of folks looking for a restaurant for a special occasion, create some content featuring your spot as the best place to ___. 

For example, the best place for:

  • Brunch
  • Date nights
  • Dinner with family 
  • Outdoor patio drinks
  • Birthday celebrations 

The list goes on! The most important thing is to guide viewers of your video through the event allowing them to picture themselves there and delivering a can’t miss experience. What should they order, where should they sit, what amazing food photography can they capture? These experience-based videos can get a ton of traffic, especially when paired with location-specific hashtags! 

@chloe_xandria

@megthorpey had the best time in Nashville! #bouquet #bouquetbar #nashvilletennessee #nashvillebachelorette #nashvillesounds #floralaesthetic

♬ deja vu – Olivia Rodrigo

Invest in Advertisements 

Like any other social media platform, TikTok also has paid advertising options that can fast-track your content onto the FYP page. Of course, this comes with a price tag. Generally speaking, it starts at around $500…minimum. 

However, if you believe your page has the right content, this one-time investment could be what you need to take off. 

TikTok offers a few options for advertisements:

  • In-feed: These are the kinds of ads that show up “organically” when you swipe through your FYP.
  • Branded hashtag challenges: This version is great if you’re running a Chipotle-like challenge. It automatically turns your branded hashtag into a popular or suggested hashtag for users. 
  • Branded effects: Just like Snapchat geofilters, you can create 2D or 3D effects specific for TikTok that people can use in their content.
  • Brand takeovers: These are the videos that automatically play when a user opens their app. While they’re great for grabbing attention, they could also be easily skipped because they’re expected for many users and don’t have the potential guise of appearing organic like the in-feed ad.

To learn more about TikTok ads and create your own, just visit their business page here, create an account, fill in information about your restaurant, and wait for your account to be approved!

Closing Thoughts on Restaurant TikToks

As someone who discovered their new favorite restaurant from a video I stumbled across on TikTok, I’ve seen firsthand how powerful the platform can be. 

The restaurant in mention is called Zio. A mom-and-pop operation in Charlotte, NC, mentioned in one 60-second video that has now been viewed more than 276K times in less than a month!

@wyneesworld

#fyp

♬ More Than A Woman – From “Saturday Night Fever” Soundtrack – Bee Gees

A quick Google Trends search during the period between the video’s post date and the day it was picked up by the FYP shows you just how powerful a little local exposure can be.

Moral of the story? Don’t overlook the power of TikTok when you’re considering where to spend your restaurant marketing energy on social media. 

With our tips helping move you closer to the coveted FYP for your area, success can be a mere 60 seconds away!

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