When you consider paying for advertising to promote your restaurant, Facebook Ads may be one of the first ideas that come to your mind. After all, everyone is on Facebook, so it has to be a great channel to advertise, right? I would say maybe. Facebook Ads for restaurants can be a great tool, but they can also be a huge waste of time and money. In this post, I will cover why that is.
This post is the first one of a four-part series about Facebook Ads. It will cover the basics in order to move on to the more practical and advanced topics in the following posts.
If you’d like to know more about using Facebook organically for your restaurant, check out this post.
Facebook Ads are a tool that businesses can use to advertise on Facebook and Instagram (since Instagram is owned by Facebook). As a result, Facebook and Instagram users will see the ads in different locations, called placements, as they scroll on the social media platforms. The placements include:
Facebook provides a self-serve tool that allows businesses to target customers with specific characteristics and analyze the performance of the campaigns thanks to built-in analytics tools.
Because everyone can advertise on Facebook, small businesses get a better chance to compete against big corporations that have a much bigger advertising budget. Therefore, Facebook Ads for restaurants can be especially beneficial for those owners who can’t afford to advertise on TV, radio, or billboards.
Facebook Ads can help you compete for the attention of your current and prospective customers. Whether you own a small restaurant with a minuscule marketing budget or a chain with hundreds of thousands of dollars ready to be spent on advertising, Facebook Ads can generate results for you.
Facebook Ads can help grow your restaurant in several ways. Some of them include:
Facebook Ads should be a part of an overall marketing strategy for your restaurant. If you’re not sure what that means or how to create your marketing strategy, download my restaurant marketing strategy guide by clicking the button below.
In 2020 in the United States alone, Facebook has 223 million users. Instagram has 140 million American users as of October 2020. If you think about those numbers in percentages, it turns out that two-thirds of Americans use Facebook monthly, and over a third of Americans use Instagram.
Therefore, you can bet that the majority of your target audience is on one or both of these platforms. Even if your restaurant is located in a small town or in the country, the local population is very likely to be on Facebook and/or Instagram.
Facebook gives you a rare opportunity to target very specific people. Unlike advertising on the radio, TV, or billboards, you only pay to show your ads to people who might be interested in what you offer. The targeting capabilities can dig deeper than any other platform, and you can layer and combine them to make sure you eliminate users who aren’t your target market.
First, you can micro-target your audience through geographic, demographic, and psychographic criteria. For instance, you can choose to show the ads to people living in certain states, cities, or even zip codes and neighborhoods. You can also target people by age, job title, and interests. All this data is provided by Facebook users who put in their occupation in the profile, follow certain brands, or like specific products.
What is even more remarkable is that you can run a remarketing campaign to people who have interacted with you. For example, you can advertise on Instagram to people who have visited your website in the last 30 days. That way, you advertise to people who already know you and are more likely to visit your spot.
Another great option that Facebook provides for businesses is marketing to people similar to your current customers, which are called lookalike audiences. A lookalike audience can be based on your website visitors or email subscribers. If you aren’t running email marketing campaigns yet or aren’t fully satisfied with your email marketing results, consider taking my Email Success For Restauranteurs course.
To learn more about lookalike audiences, you can skip to Part 4 of the Facebook Ads series.
Facebook Ads provide you with the ability to use images and videos to quickly capture the interest of your target market. Visual content almost always attracts more attention than plain text.
You can use various types of ad formats, which include:
A/B testing is the process of comparing two variations of an element, usually by testing users’ response to variant A versus variant B, and concluding which of the two variants is more effective.
In ads, it means that you show two ads with one varying component, e.g. the headline, the copy, or the image, and measure which one got a better response. Then, you use the higher-performing ad in your ad campaign and discontinue the lower-performing one.
Facebook Ads Manager allows you to split test your ads to different custom audiences, locations, age segments, and many more, all within a single campaign. It makes your life easier because otherwise, you would have to create two campaigns or two ad sets and manually set them up.
However, Facebook’s A/B testing doesn’t work very well if you have a small budget. In this case, I would suggest conducting A/B testing manually. I’ve done it in the past and didn’t find it inconvenient.
Facebook provides in-depth reports of your ads. You don’t have to guess how they are performing – Facebook tells you the conversion rate and other social metrics. You can also compare them against the benchmarks.
By reviewing this data, you can adjust your ads based on their performance. Remember, if you can’t track and measure something, you can’t know if it’s working or how you can improve it.
However, it is important to understand that Facebook won’t do everything for you; you still need to analyze those metrics and make decisions whether to try to optimize your ads, keep them as they are, or stop running them altogether.
The increasing number of businesses using Facebook advertising means the likelihood of your ad standing out decreases. In the feed, your ads compete against users’ friends and families, as well as other businesses. Therefore, they need to be really well-crafted in order to stand out and generate satisfying results.
Facebook Ads are becoming expensive for a few reasons. First, the competition is getting more and more fierce. Facebook reported in the last quarter of 2019 that they had 6 million advertisers on their platform, which is a serious increase from 4 million in 2016. Naturally, higher demand leads to higher prices.
Second, if you don’t refine your targeting perfectly, your ads will show to people who are not your target market. You will still be charged based on views or clicks, depending on the type of campaign, but you won’t get any results. In order to master the targeting, you should experiment and try different options in order to see what works best. At first, your results may not be impressive, but they will improve with time.
Third, the conversion rate of Facebook Ads is very low, which means that you pay for ads not many people click on, and even if they click, they are not likely to take the action you expect. I will discuss this issue further below.
In the past, if your ad had more than 20% of the image covered with text, it wouldn’t be approved. Since then, Facebook has relaxed this policy, but it’s still best practice to use less than 20% text in your image.
As a result, your image can’t include more than one or two sentences of text, which means that you need to get really creative in order to capture users’ attention with a picture or a video.
Facebook and Instagram users are generally not looking for your services when they scroll through the app. They browse their friends’ posts and videos, and suddenly see ads for products that they don’t need or want. Therefore, your ads are often treated as an intruder on their feed. As a result, the conversion rate is usually low.
The average click-through rate for travel and hospitality businesses is 0.90%, which means that, on average, if 1,000 people see your ad, only 9 will click on it. Out of the 0.9%, only 2.82% convert, which means that they take the action you want them to take (e.g. making a reservation at your restaurant).
Organically (non-paid posts), only a small percentage of your customers will see your posts since the Facebook algorithm limits brands’ visibility. Now the organic reach is at an all-time low of around 2%. Therefore, if you have 100 followers on Facebook, only two of them are likely to see your post!
Low organic reach means that your Facebook Ads campaigns are not likely to be supported by your organic efforts. Furthermore, even if you grow your following thanks to paid ads, your reach within your followers will remain very low.
The last disadvantage of Facebook Ads is that they require constant monitoring and supervision. You can’t set them up once and check the performance after a month unless you don’t care how much money you spend. You should monitor Facebook Ads every other day in order to see what is working and what can be improved.
The need for constant supervision makes Facebook Ads time-consuming, especially for a restaurant owner or manager who is not used to analyzing them and has a lot of other issues on their mind.
Facebook Ads can be a great marketing tactic for your restaurant. They let you reach a lot of people who probably wouldn’t have heard about your restaurant otherwise. They also let you reconnect with those who know you but haven’t become your customers yet.
On the other hand, Facebook Ads for restaurants can be expensive, time-consuming, and, as a result, disappointing.
It is important to keep that in mind as you start running your Facebook Ads. The good news is that you will get improved results with more experience, so it’s good to experiment without getting discouraged.
To read Part 2 which covers setting up a Facebook Ads campaign, click here.