If you don’t use TikTok yet you probably just know it as that video app where people do dances, play pranks and perform challenges in front of their camera - but many people also come to TikTok to discover new products and be inspired to purchase them.
TikTok has now become one of the most downloaded apps in the world and has over 17 million active users each month in the UK alone. As its popularity increases it's also being downloaded over a million times each month in the UK.
These users spend, on average, an hour a day on the platform, the majority of whom are of the younger generation using smartphones.
No matter what it is that you’re trying to advertise or sell, there's an audience for you on TikTok and it is fast becoming one of the more powerful marketing tools for bars and restaurants. There are hundreds of establishments already on TikTok creating viral videos that reach thousands of people, building their brand and converting viewers into customers.
But where to start? What is it? How does it work?
TikTok is a social media, mobile-first video platform that exploded onto the scene in 2016. The app has seen incredible growth with a billion monthly active users worldwide and will continue to grow exponentially. For context, Facebook has 2.9 billion users, YouTube has 2.2 billion, and Instagram has 1.4 billion - all of which have been around for more than a decade now.
TikTok is an app you should definitely be promoting your bar or restaurant on, especially if you are marketing to a younger crowd. A whopping 80% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16-34 with millennials currently forming over a quarter of the UK’s population!
There are more millennials in the UK workforce than any other age group and, as such, have the greatest spending power of all the demographics in the UK and dining out is no exception. Dining outlet visits from 16-24s are up 15% year-on-year and 9% among 25-34s.
They spend, on average, 13% of their income in restaurants and bars so targeting this age range is vital for your business to grow.
Basically your dining experience needs to cater for this group but it is not always easy to know how!
Millennials are open minded and curious, always looking for more than just a meal. They value adventure and consider food another way to experience the world with friends.
They don’t just want to eat out but to have an experience! If that doesn’t sound confusing enough, you then need to decide what changes you make in your business to capture their interest!
But let’s get back to TikTok!
What makes TikTok different?
The TikTok algorithm makes it easier for people in your area to see your videos.
TikTok's algorithm is a recommendation system that determines which videos users will see on their For You page. No two users will see the exact order or content on their For You page, and it even changes based on your current state of mind. The For You page is mostly based on your interests and personal preferences, but geographical location also comes into play.
This is great for your bar or restaurant as your main target is going to be diners in your immediate area.
You don't need a ton of followers to get thousands of likes and views
Another great thing about TikTok's algorithm is that it doesn't take into account the amount of followers one has or levels of previous engagement when showing videos on someone's For You page. You're just as likely to see a video with a million views as you are one with ten views. Great news if you’re starting a new fledgling TikTok account.
When you post a video it'll first get shown to a small group of users. Depending on its performance with the small group (ex. if they watched it all the way through, if they liked/commented on it, if they sent it to someone else), your video will get boosted to a larger group of users, and so on. So even if you literally have zero followers, there's a chance your video could still go viral!
There’s less competition for engagement as it’s a new(ish) app
Even though TikTok has been around for 5/6 years now, brands are only just starting to realise its marketing capabilities. The bar and restaurant scene is no different - while it's pretty much a given a bar or restaurant will have an Instagram, or at the very least, a Facebook page, venues are slowly joining the TikTok gold rush. This could be a huge advantage for you.
But how to use TikTok to your advantage?
1. Get a TikTok Business Account (it's free!)
A Business account is a free and powerful feature that shows you in-depth data about your users and how to best curate your activity to get maximum engagement. With this feature, you'll be able to see data on trends as well as your audience behaviour. You'll also get a content guide that provides advice on anything from picking a sound to choosing a video topic. This is one of the first things you should do when making a TikTok account, as you'll be able to get user insights starting from the very first video you post. You'll get to understand critical metrics like who your audience is, what times they're most active on the app, and what content they enjoy the most.
As soon as you have a Business account, you'll be able to access the Analytics feature from the 'Settings and privacy' page, and can also put a bold, clickable link in your bio. Putting a link to your main website, menu, or ordering page is a smart strategy to convert your audience into customers.
2. Be yourself, but also follow the crowd
Unlike Instagram, which brands often use to show off a polished and refined look, TikTok is all about authenticity. Users are more engaged when videos are relatable and a little off-the-cuff. Original content helps you stand out from the rest.
3. Post frequently
The For You page is individually catered for each user - no two For You pages are identical. It’s fuelled by TikTok's complex algorithm, which shows users videos based on their geographical location and level of interest in certain videos. This is measured by how long a user watches a video, if they interact with it by liking, commenting on it or sending the video to other users.
Posting regularly is a sure fire way to keep popping up on people’s For You page - it's recommended you post at least once a day to get consistent engagement, but it's also ok if you're only posting every couple of days. Posting consistently is easier said than done however. While timing is key, the content of your videos is equally as important. The most successful TikTok's for restaurants and bars include a combination of fun, visually appealing, educational and entertaining content. So what kind of videos should your establishment be posting?
The Food segment on TikTok, or #FoodTikTok, is a huge part of the app. Shots of well plated, delicious food and drinks are literally gold and guaranteed to increase your follower count.
This is a great opportunity for your restaurant to showcase some of your best dishes. Show your chefs making a meal or record the final product being served. If you have a bar program, have your bartender make a cocktail from your menu.
A series of videos on a similar topic is a great way to post regularly. Your bar, for example, could do a 5 part series on how to make classic cocktails with each part dedicated to a specific cocktail. Get some good clips of your bartender shaking, stirring and serving (or just shaking if it’s a vodka martini for a bloke in a tux called “James!”)
4. Show what goes on behind the scenes at your bar/restaurant
Showing behind the scenes footage of your venue makes your account more relatable and original. Is your bar buzzing on a Saturday night? Do you host special events? Record a video and post it to show what your viewers are missing out on! You could also introduce your audience to your staff or take them on a tour of your kitchen.
5. Partner with micro-influencers
Again, the great thing about TikTok is that you don’t need thousands of followers to go viral - you can depend on someone else with a huge following to get you the engagement you want! If you want to really tap into your local audience, figure out who’s a micro-influencer foodie in your area and reach out to them for potential partnership. You could have them do a review of your restaurant or have them highlight a specific dish on your menu.
A micro-influencer is someone who has anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 followers and is well known in their geographical location or area of expertise. A partnership with a local foodie in your area would be great but, you might wonder, wouldn’t partnering with a huge influencer with millions of followers be even better?!
While that is true micro-influencer marketing is the smarter and better way to go - and this is why!
As you know now TikTok’s algorithm curates videos based on someone’s interests and where they are located. According to Impact Plus, influencers with 1,000 followers “generated 85% higher engagement than those having 100,000 followers.” As the number of followers goes up, engagement actually decreases and it makes perfect sense - smaller accounts are able to connect with their followers on a deeper level because of their niche content. There’s a greater sense of trust that users have in these micro-influencers since they appear to be more accessible and relatable.
On another similar note, once you have 1,000 followers you'll be able to host live events on TikTok. This could be further enhanced if you want to partner with a micro-influencer to play fun games or teach a class with.
TikTok actually has a Creator Marketplace where you can find food influencers to work with.
6. Get inspired!
If you’re not sure how and what to create videos about, just search up other restaurants on TikTok. You can use the app's search feature or a quick Google search will do the trick. See what works for these accounts and incorporate it into your own videos, just keep it original and authentic though!
Crafting the perfect TikTok
You've meticulously edited your video down to the frame and chosen the perfect audio. You're ready to post but you still need a good caption and group of hashtags first. While it isn't as important as the video itself you need to always include them if you want more views and likes. Captions and hashtags are the garnish/cherry on top to a well executed video.
Use your words (but not too much)
TikTok is a mobile-first video platform, so that long spiel that you’ve worked so hard on for Facebook and Instagram won't be as effective here. Keep your captions short, sweet and to the point whilst adding a touch of flair and charisma! To encourage engagement with your videos ask a question, use a joke or add 'follow for part 2' or something similar at the end of your caption if you're doing a series.
Use the right hashtags
Pretty much on every social media app you use you’ll probably see hashtags. These were first popularised on twitter as a way to group similar tweets under a common phrase but they’ve generally fallen out of use on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Not on TikTok, however - hashtags are still used in full force and are essential to getting your videos seen. The most popular hashtags have hundreds of millions, even billions of views! Hashtags will definitely increase user engagement with your videos, but use them wisely - make sure the hashtags you use in your caption are relevant, popular and descriptive. Create a list of ones to have on deck so you don’t have to waste any time trying to come up with any right before you’re about to post a video.
If the above has sparked your imagination and increased your desire for further engagement and revenue but you feel that having yet another social media platform to manage could be time consuming and problematic just drop us a line!
Come on! TikTok!
Sources - dontdisappoint.me.uk, cybercrew, statista, foodspark