parallax background

Effective Social Media Engagement Strategies for Hospitality Businesses

Thursday 30th June 2022

Blog Author Beth Perrin by Beth Perrin

parallax background

Effective Social Media Engagement Strategies for Hospitality Businesses

Thursday 30th June 2022

One of the most common aims for brands on social media is to generate engagement, and hospitality businesses such as restaurants, pubs and cafés are no exception. Engagements are actions taken by your audience, including likes, comments, shares, retweets, link clicks and image expansions. Achieving a high level of engagement is a sign that your content is making an impact and is being received well by your followers and fans, ultimately increasing the likelihood of conversions and therefore boosting ROI. If you’re struggling to create engagement for your hospitality brand, take a look at our ultimate list of top tips and ideas below.


Focus on Visuals

Have you ever heard the phrase “Eat with your eyes”? It refers to the way we tend to value the appearance and presentation of a meal just as much as the taste. In fact, Charles Spence, Professor of Experimental Psychology and Head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University explained: “Visuals make for a big part of our appreciation of food. The natural desire, or urge, to look at food could well be an evolutionary adaptation: our brains learnt to enjoy seeing food, since it would likely precede consumption.”

Because of this, bright, enticing and high-resolution photos of your dishes should be at the forefront of your social media strategy. We would recommend hiring a photographer who can conduct a professional photoshoot and create a bank of images you can use throughout your future content, but if this isn’t an option for you at the moment, most modern smartphones now have high quality cameras which can produce some great photos.

Particularly on visual-first platforms like Instagram, paying attention to the overall theme of your feed and making sure your food, drinks and restaurant interior are being represented in the best way possible will definitely encourage people to interact. Posts with images generally receive 2.3 times more engagement than those without.

Don’t forget video marketing too! After examining 100 million Facebook videos, analytics firm Buzzsumo determined that food is by far the most popular video subject on the platform, giving your restaurant a huge advantage over other industries when it comes to generating engagement on social media. Again, we would recommend that you enlist the help of a professional videographer who can film some super high quality shots of your food, drinks, team and atmosphere.


Encourage Participation with Polls

Another excellent way to boost interaction is to post polls, which can be done on both Instagram Stories, TikTok and Twitter. Polls allow your audience to vote between two or more different options, and as well as being fun and engaging, they can form an important part of your market research, helping you find out what your followers want and need from your restaurant.

Here are some poll topic suggestions:

Pick your favourite between two dishes

Which new dish would you like us to add to our menu?

Starter vs main vs dessert

Alcoholic drink vs soft drink

Spicy vs mild

Dinner date vs family meal


Share User Generated Content

User-Generated Content, or UGC, refers to media posted online by your guests, such as photos and videos of their visit to your restaurant. You can find relevant UGC by regularly monitoring your location tag, checking your mentions and tracking hashtags that relate to your business. Sharing UGC onto your own page (with permission from the customer) can give you a huge boost in terms of likes and comments, with social campaigns that incorporate UGC seeing on average a 50% lift in engagement - most likely because people like to see real, relatable and authentic representations of businesses on social media. Just remember to tag the guest and/or give credit where required.


Amplify Success Stories & Reviews

If your restaurant has received some excellent reviews recently on Facebook, Google, Tripadvisor or any other feedback platforms, share them onto your social media pages to amplify your success stories and show potential diners what kind of experience they’ll have if they choose to visit. Just remember to remove customers’ names and photos from screenshots before sharing them to ensure you are adhering to GDPR privacy laws. 72% of people say that positive reviews and testimonials make them trust a business more, plus sharing them publicly will encourage other guests to consider leaving their own reviews if they haven’t yet.


Competitions and Giveaways

Posting a competition or giveaway will incentivise engagement, especially if you make liking your page, liking the post or commenting on the post an entry requirement. The prize could be:

A free meal at your restaurant

A discount off the winner’s next meal

One free course

Free drinks

A gift card or voucher

78.4% of contest shares are done on Facebook, making this platform an excellent choice when getting started with your first competition. Meanwhile, on Instagram, competition posts receive 3.5 times as many likes and 64 times more comments on average than standard posts. Check out this episode of our podcast to learn some best practices and guidelines for running social media competitions.


Leverage Other Brands’ Audiences

Interacting with competitors and other businesses within your industry on social media can be risky territory, with cheeky comments sometimes spiralling into controversial conversations that irritate audience members or cause them to take sides, ultimately damaging your reputation. However, by treading carefully, staying true to your values and keeping things lighthearted, replying to other brands’ tweets and engaging in a bit of friendly banter can be a fun way to achieve likes, retweets and comments - and gain new followers too. Just remember that social moves quickly and trend cycles tend to be very short, so don’t wait too long to respond or participate in a viral moment, as this can lower your chances of engagement.


Celebrate National Days & Awareness Events

Using an events calendar such as will help you stay on top of any upcoming national days and celebrations that may relate to your hospitality brand, most of which are accompanied by a hashtag to use in your content which will increase your opportunities for engagement.

International Coffee Day takes place annually on 1st October

Beer Day Britain celebrates Britain’s national alcoholic drink every year on 15th June with a nationwide #CheersToBeer at 7pm

National Pizza Day is held annually on 9th February

Veganuary is a month-long celebration of vegan foods and lifestyles that takes place every January

Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), is known as Pancake Day here in the UK, making it the perfect day to promote any pancake dishes on your menu


Deals and Discounts

Letting your audience know about your current deals, offers and promotions is another fantastic way to incentivise interaction. In fact, 71% of consumers admit that one of the main reasons they follow brands on social media is to hear about coupons and discounts. Exclusive offers that can only be accessed by your social audience (or even just your Top Fans - people who are exceptionally passionate about your brand and show regular interest in your Facebook page) will make them feel special and valued by your business, resulting in a higher volume of likes and comments.



If your restaurant, pub, café or bar currently has a low engagement rate, we hope you’ve found these suggestions beneficial for improving your strategy. Which ideas are you planning to try out for your hospitality brand? Are there any other top tips that we’ve missed? Tweet us @3sixfivepro to share your own suggestions and success stories.