Inside This Article
The defining factors for a viral post
As a restauranter, when can you confidently say that your product has reached viral-ity?
📈 Is it when your sales chart starts looking like a hockey stick?
🚀 Is it when your Instagram account starts buzzing with notifications
🗣 Is it when you need to go back to your supplier and negotiate lower prices as you increase your ingredients' purchase volume? The answer is probably a combination of all three.
Each social media platform has its method of featuring a post or making it viral. However, these are the two metrics that decide a post’s position on the Instagram Explore page:
1. Number of times the content is shared on Instagram. 2. Percentage of content watched (for video) or time spent (for images)
Viral content is newsworthy content.
Content that is interesting for a person to share with their friends on Instagram.
Content that someone is willing to watch entirely, and then re-watch.
Let’s look at what newsworthy content for a restaurant in Dubai is:
A new burger restaurant opened its doors in Jumeirah.
They serve authentic burgers with high-quality ingredients.
Not Newsworthy - Customers in Dubai expect a premium offering.
The burgers are served with Cheetos and cheese oozing out of every crevice.
Somewhat newsworthy, but back in 2019.
The chefs dance to trending TikTok dance moves as they flip the burgers.
Newsworthy. User-generated content of chefs dancing is likely to go viral.
The concept of chefs dancing may seem cringey to many. However, the very nature of chefs doing mundane tasks differently is a strong reason for that content to reach Instagram virality.
Viral restaurant marketing is never as random and effortless as it may seem.
Nusret AKA Saltbae spent years of his chef career perfecting his look and style before his rise to fame.
The crisp white tee, the gold-rimmed round sunglasses, and the elaborate style of seasoning his steak is an art that he perfected for his guests. This persona was crafted with serious thought and attention to detail.
A good way to think about viral marketing is - whether or not your content gets viral, it still needs to be interesting/amusing to engage with.
Five restaurant marketing strategies to get viral in Dubai - 2022
1. Introduce an innovative product that looks and tastes completely different - Il Caffe Di Roma's Cheesecake on a stick.
This popular dish was revolutionary as it did not exist anywhere else in Dubai. And at a super low price of just AED 19, the dessert dish became a must-try for all of the city's foodies.
The dish gained traction on its own as some food bloggers started covering the menu item. Donut Media’s marketing team decided to take it a step further by inviting famous UAE food influencers to the store.
Typically these influencers charge AED 3,000 - 5,000 for Instagram coverage, but our digital marketing strategy involved curating this to be a revolutionary and innovative product in Dubai.
With Donut Media’s communication techniques and relationships with the bloggers, our restaurant marketing team was able to generate over 3 million views and a 15x sales impact within just 3 weeks with zero ad spend on the bloggers.
Read our case study for this success story (Instagram Carousel Post)
This campaign was successful because the marketing team at Donut Media worked closely with the operations team at Il Caffe Di Roma.
Team Donut was involved in engineering the dish's visual and taste elements.
Together, we created a newsworthy and innovative product 😎
2. Food challenges - Add a unique twist to an existing product.
Food challenges are essentially the gamification of food 🎲
Humans are hard-wired to love food and to love games. Food challenges combine both in a neat manner. A creative food challenge is in itself newsworthy because it appeals to our basic instincts.
An unknown cafeteria in Khorfakkan introduced a menu item called the ‘fire pani puri’. After it was covered by food influencers, the cafeteria saw a boom in its weekend sales from customers driving from Dubai to try the dish.
The Pani Puri featured multiple times across Instagram Explore page as users took pictures and videos of themselves engulfing a pani puri lit on fire.
How did the cafeteria achieve viral marketing success?
Solid product development and a creative marketing strategy 💡
3. Create a unique space that guarantees Instagrammable moments.
VIBE literally created a vibe by incorporating the color pink in all of their decor, but they didn’t just stop there.
Their waitresses wear pink, the cutlery is pink, the menus are pink, and even their food is mostly pink.
This creates a memorable experience for the customer. They are unlikely to forget being immersed in a single color while eating a meal - no other restaurant or cafe in Dubai does this.
CÉ LA VI Dubai in Dubai invested in an unobstructed view of the Burj Khalifa. And then added swings in the viewpoint area so customers can take aesthetic pictures while sitting on an elaborately decorated swing with the Burj on the backdrop.
A look at their tagged images contains hundreds of images of regular customers, bloggers, and local celebrities posing in front of their iconic location.
The images started popping up on our Explore pages and even though we had no idea what restaurant this was shot at, the restaurant essentially became viral.
4. Create a value-based offer limited to a single day of the week.
Offers across the entire menu (percentage OFF or BOGO) that run constantly may cheapen the brand’s image.
However, when paired with seasonal messaging or when applied to a specific dish, they can do wonders to promote that one hero dish of your restaurant.
The rationale is that customers are excited to try your one discounted hero dish. And then once they discover how delicious your food is, they are likely to order sides and other items from the menu too.
For Asian Wok, Team Donut was tasked to create a marketing campaign to raise brand awareness and drive customers to the restaurant’s mall outlets. We spent weeks researching our client's food menu, costs, and demand to determine which dish will be the most cost-effective to sell. The restaurant marketing team also worked on a tagline to attract customers to visit during the weekday slump.
We priced the Shanghai Noodles at just AED 10 valid on Wednesdays. The marketing team created a catchy tagline of #WokWednesdays.
The mall outlets loved this promotion as it generated traffic to the restaurants in the food courts during the weekday slump. They started promoting the offer on Instagram and elsewhere, free of charge. Now, Asian Wok outlets see a rise in customer footfall by 27% on Wednesdays compared to the other days of the week.
5. Create a memorable experience
Ever heard of the term experiential dining? Dining at a restaurant is now about more than just the food - it’s about the experience for the customer who needs to be entertained.
Overdose is a coffee shop in Riyadh that started small with just one branch but they had a small interesting twist to the way they served their coffee. The baristas tapped the espresso shots on the table and poured them gracefully onto a pedestal in front of the customers.
The spectacle of a barista preparing the drinks live in front of the customers was so unique, it instantly became viral with hundreds of tagged posts.
How to capitalize on your viral marketing
Let’s assume that your restaurant or business has reached virality.
Your content is getting a lot of shares and engagement ❤️🔥
However, your profile is not growing with hundreds or thousands of followers as you had anticipated. Your Instagram messages are filled with story tags but not with meaningful inquiries or sales.
Why does this happen?
As viral trends rise and fall, your restaurant will fade out of everyone’s memory eventually. Your window of Instagram fame may last a week or two.
It is crucial to sustain the momentum and convert that to tangible sales.
Here’s how you can capitalize on your content's momentum:
1. Understand that your business is getting a lot of eyeballs right now.
Make sure that your Instagram profile is optimized.
Your visitors need to know why they should buy from you and how they can buy from you.
Whether you are handling your social media in-house or with a marketing agency - Profile optimization needs to be part of your Instagram content strategy.
The content strategy and the profile optimization will define how your visitors engage with you. And how they remember you after seeing your content elsewhere.
Your Instagram profile is the first impression that you create on your customer. Hire Donut Media to make sure it’s a good first impression! Here's how we paired content strategy with paid ads to deliver sales for our client.
Think of it like this: Someone gifted you a spot for the signboard on Sheikh Zayed Road.
You have to plan carefully what you say on this billboard to get sales or meaningful inquiries.
2. Pace the momentum.
It is important to try as hard, as you can, to make your moment of virality last as long as possible.
Within your influencer marketing strategy, ensure that the influencers are timed correctly.
What does that mean?
It’s best to start by calling as many influencers as you can in a short time, but if the product is getting viral without the help of influencers - it is better to pace the influencers across different weeks.
Ad spends should also be carefully monitored to create a retargeting loop to engage new followers and profile visitors.
Read about our re-targeting case study to learn how we successfully ran lead generation ads and yielded sales using Facebook Ad tools.
3. Excellent customer service.
Let’s say you or your marketing agency have the first two steps of Instagram viral marketing nailed to the tee.
You get a spike in restaurant sales during the week of the campaign, but after that, sales decline again. It's key to remember that despite all the marketing strategies that you execute, a restaurant lives and dies on its operations.
Word of mouth is invariably the most powerful tool for a restaurant.
Ensure that customers receive a stellar experience each time and their meals are beyond expectations.
After all, a viral product will only get the restaurant’s eyeballs.
For these customers to be retained, your operations team needs to ensure that each guest’s visit is exemplary.
Create the next viral strategy for your restaurant
A viral Instagram strategy always starts from operations and menu design 🧑🏼🍳
Any product marketing that is not product-led is naturally bound to fail.
The key to creating a viral marketing campaign for your brand is to create an element that has a wow factor - an element that is newsworthy and unique.
Restaurants often leave this responsibility to their marketing teams.
This is not advisable as no one understands your product and demographic as well as you do. However, if you are too busy or need creative marketing ideas, your best bet would be to get in touch with an agency or consultants who specialize in the restaurant or F&B space.
Donut Media is an F&B marketing agency that has worked with popular concepts around UAE since 2018.
Read here on how to pick the right marketing agency for your business (blog post coming soon) So here's what you need to do to ensure virality on your next Instagram campaign: 1. Optimize your digital listings and your profile. 2. Ensure that you have a cohesive content strategy to support the viral moment. 3. Use one of the five methods listed above to create a wow factor in the restaurant to generate the viral moment.
4. Manage your ad spends and the influencer strategy to ensure longevity.
5. Ensure that the operations team in the restaurant is well-equipped to handle the increase in customer traffic.
We are an F&B marketing agency that is passionate about working with food and restaurants.
We specialize in creating social media content and then distributing it using the right channels.
Our performance team is also laser-focused on ensuring that your marketing campaigns generate a healthy return on investment.