A Good Kind of Contagious: Viral Marketing for Your Restaurant

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Restaurateurs should always stay away from anything that’s viral.

Unless it’s marketing.

In viral marketing, the consumer shares a company’s online content in tremendous volumes.

It results in massive exposure and lead generation in a short period of time.

The benefits are clear.

It’s the other elements that look a little murky.

Campaigns are difficult to create.

They’re difficult to measure, and so much of it is out of your hands that it makes control freaks (myself included) hyperventilate.

Think of a viral marketing campaign like a new dish for your restaurant.

You can’t know for sure if people are gonna love it as much as you do.

But you can make sure you perfect the recipe, source the best ingredients, and have a kitchen staff who can execute your vision.

It’s hard to tell what will resonate and connect with people.

A lot of elements needed to come together for a viral marketing campaign like the Old Spice’s Man Your Man Could Smell Like.


So how can your restaurant create the perfect situation for a viral marketing campaign to flourish?

Start with your content.

Create Good Sh*t

Great viral content makes a connection that’s hard to break.

It can be humorous like Old Spice or it can be poignant like the Dove Real Beauty Sketches.


What your content can’t be, is an advertisement.

Your restaurant can’t be the focal point.

It’s there, but it’s in the background.

Promotion should be subtle.

Your focus should be creating a story and making a statement.

Only then can your content be worthy of clicks and shares.

Spice Up Your Content with Personality

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You can’t be timid when you create viral content.

You need to present a point of view.

You need to be bold.

You don’t have to be controversial.

But you have to be memorable.

Sometimes being memorable just means letting loose, taking chances, and being unapologetically weird.

Find your brand’s personality and commit to it.

Let it shine and be genuine.

Make the Content Easy to Share for Your Customers

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The content you create should rely on what you know about your target audience and your restaurant’s identity.

Cater to your clientele.

If you’re a steakhouse, create a video educating people about different cuts of steak.

If you run an Italian restaurant, create tutorials on how to make fresh pasta at home.

If you have an extensive craft beer selection in your restaurant, write a guide for food and beer pairings.

These are pretty run of the mill ideas, but you can turn it up a notch and personalize it to suit you and your audience.

Whatever content you create, make it easy to share.

Sharing isn’t just caring, it’s everything for viral marketing.

Make it as easy as possible to share (and promote your content).

Leverage social media buttons on your website.

Allow people to share your content through email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn (if appropriate), and ravens (if possible).

Schmooze Your Adoring Public

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Now that you’ve crafted a great piece of content and unleashed it into the world, it’s time to get a celebratory drink right?

Nope. (Well, maybe a small one)

Once your content is out there, you’ll need to comment, and connect with your adoring fans.

Again, let that personality shine.

The more you communicate with your customers, the higher the chance they’ll engage with your campaign and become paying customers.

There again is the allure of viral marketing: massive exposure in a short amount of time.

But like everything that’s worth anything, it doesn’t come easy.

You need to nurture those new connections.

And if the public wants it, do what Hollywood does and make a sequel.

There’s a lot that needs to go right, and a lot that can go wrong with viral marketing.

But if you’re prepared to create great content and be bold, then you’re already part of the way there.

Justin Chan Tsan Ting
Justin Chan Tsan Ting
My role in this company is to understand our clients' growth obstacles, and to seek efficient and effective solutions to overcome them.
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