Issue #84 - Restaurants on TikTok
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TikTok Case Study #84 = Restaurants on TikTok
As we have done with recruitment and arts we are again looking at the categories using Tiktok. Today it’s the turn of restaurants.
This is still quite a new sector on TikTok - unlike Instagram which seems to have become a staple for bars and restaurants sharing menus and opening hours and highlighting specials.
Perhaps the main use of TikTok for restaurants is where influencers highlight new or interesting venues. Lisboeta, the latest venture from star chef Nuno Mendes, gets rave reviews from influencer @hotdinners who post organically with frequent restaurant reviews, slowly building following numbers.
@Emiliascraftedpasta - a small chain of pasta restaurants - use the TikTok meme of pronunciation to highlight their specialities. Again they post regularly with fun TikToks pointing out customer foibles.
And here we hear the sad story of Brick Lane institution Cereal Cafe closing down. They scored huge amounts of press when they opened selling nothing but breakfast cereals, but closed over lockdown. This TikTok tells the story of them switching from restaurants to cereal manufacturer. It’s an interesting story and a good platform to launch a fledging CPG firm.
Of course all the big Quick Service restaurants like McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut etc. use TikTok but most lack the spirit of US players like Chipotle who scored big with their Lid Flip - GTTC # 61.
It’s hard to see TikTok stealing the Instagram crown as the place for restaurants to promote themselves. I have just navigated the thriving restaurant scene in Cornwall primarily through using Instagram, hearing of a number new launches so it’s a great way to find old and new favourites.
But TikTok can be a fresh way of conveying the personality of your business. Those that test and experiment - and persevere - can steal a march on local rivals.
You can learn a lot from the SMBs who experiment on TikTok. With much smaller ad budgets, often having to rely on their own creativity to succeed without any ad spend. For restaurants, TikTok poses an interesting proposition. Local restaurants like the ones featured here are looking to drive awareness and drive foot traffic into their locations. The examples we have today are three London restaurants - Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, Portuguese restaurant Lisboeta, and the infamous Cereal Killer Cafe.
Emilia’s is playing to TikTok trends and trying to be funny by featuring a guy actually pronouncing Italian food correctly. It’s a very low-budget idea and I can see their ‘marketing team’ coming together over a casual brainstorm to create the TikTok. And it seems to be doing well. The video we feature has around 360K views and if you look on their profile, their biggest video has reached nearly 1 Million views. Each of their videos seem to be funny tongue-in-cheek creations, which reminds me of our coverage on Duolingo in GTTC #71. This ‘not take yourself too seriously’ playbook seems to be what most small business choose as their TikTok strategy.
Cereal Killer Cafe takes more of a biographical, personal story approach, which I’ve seen in more DTC E-comm brands. The video we feature is a narration from the owner of Cereal Killer Cafe describing the journey of shutting down his restaurant and then pivoting to selling an online cereal brand. You see stories like these from many solopreneur, founder-led startup CPG brands seeking to involve people within the story. It’s a good way to build a personal connection to the brand and at the end of the video the narrator asks for feedback from the audience, which you can also see him replying to in the comments.
The TikTok about the restaurant Lisboeta seems straight out of the fashion influencer. The exact camera angle is very similar to what you’d see from typical food influencers not only on TikTok, but across other social media platforms. Of course - this works as visually appealing by design, you’ve got a mixture of food porn with a few humanizing shots of the chef himself Nuno Mendes and a few first-person shots of the influencer walking through the restaurant. I’ve seen A LOT of TikToks following this similar format, promoting different restaurants around London. While repeatable formulas might not come across as creative, if they work once they are usually consistently effective. I have gone to several restaurants because I saw them on TikTok.
These were all organic stories and we can only imagine what it would be like if a major brand latched onto one of these ideas for something like a big hashtag challenge campaign. We don’t know if any of these restaurants are currently running TikTok ads, but spending money would definitely increase their reach. All of these ideas are worthy pursuits and we’ll have to stay close to these businesses as they witness the results of their experiments on TikTok.
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