How is TikTok Affecting the Restaurant Business?

From garnering customer feedback via reviews to artfully designing dishes worthy of an Instagram share, social media has shaped much of how the restaurant business now interacts with digital-savvy consumers.

And although Facebook remains on top of the leaderboard, with 91% of restaurants leveraging it for their social media marketing, it may be time for establishments to finally start taking notice of the rapidly-growing short-form mobile video app, TikTok.

Hailing from Beijing’s ByteDance, TikTok boasts an impressive 700 million daily active users — second only to Facebook, which garners 1.6 billion. This means that, even though TikTok only launched in 2016, its daily usage number has already surpassed those of other popular networks, including Instagram (600 million), Twitter (134 million), YouTube (149 million), and Snapchat (109 million).

Depending on a brand’s ability to take charge of its own narrative, TikTok could be good or bad news for restaurants. So to better inform you of how TikTok might affect your business, here’s how this rising platform is affecting the restaurant industry.

Putting a Focus on Brand Awareness

Unlike other social media networks, where restaurants strategize ways to gain traffic or business, the focus for big brands currently on TikTok is brand awareness.

It’s important to remember that the platform is all about entertainment. So restaurants are engaging with Gen-Z audiences by showing off a lighter side of themselves through quirky, funny videos and hashtag challenges that inspire customers to get involved in a community-wide activity.

Chipotle presents a great example of exactly how a restaurant can successfully put TikTok’s unique sense of eccentricity at the forefront of its content, while building the kind of brand awareness that directly correlates to more business.

On the National Avocado Day, the company cleverly paired Dr. Jean’s “The Guacamole Song” music video with the caption, “TFW guac is free. Online/i-app only 7/31 #guacdance Terms: chip.tl/avoday”.

In addition to the meme being perfectly suited to TikTok culture, it went on to spark the viral #guacdance challenge, which asked fans to show off their avocado-inspired dance moves. With over 250,000 submissions and 450 million views in six days, the challenge led to Chipotle serving over 800,000 sides of guac — making it its biggest Guacamole Day ever.

@chipotleTFW guac is free. Online/in-app only 7/31 #GuacDance Terms: chip.tl/avoday♬ The Guacamole Song – Dr. Jean

Disrupting Influencer Marketing

Although TikTok now offers a Creator Marketplace, which aims to help its creators make money through ad deals with brands, a simple sponsored influencer endorsement won’t cut it on this idiosyncratic-by-nature platform. If restaurants want to consider working with TikTok influencers to gain traction amongst younger customers, creativity is a must.

When Chipotle tapped influencer David Dobrik, the company worked with him on its #ChipotleLidFlip challenge, in which the goal was to flip a container and land it just right. This challenge garnered over 100,000 submissions and 230 million views.

Making Social Media Vigilance More Important Than Ever

Unlike other networks with algorithms that make it difficult for you to raise your profile organically, TikTok’s information sharing is democratized. This means that, when you scroll through the platform, it provides access to videos with views ranging anywhere between a few dozen all the way up to six figures.

It also means that viral content is no longer exclusive to influencers with large followings. On TikTok, anyone has the ability to make a post go viral.

This can lead to both highly positive or negative outcomes for restaurants, which means that now more than ever, it’s essential to stay abreast of what’s being said about your brand on the platform.

Everything from your food to how well you serve your customers can be scrutinized and quickly catch fire on TikTok. So make sure you’re always giving them the best possible experience.

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