Digital marketing is vital to the growth of any restaurant, however it’s especially important for dark kitchens, cloud kitchens and ghost kitchens, who don’t have a physical storefront to attract potential customers. When you’re running a dark kitchen, your online presence is the storefront of your brand.
Here, we explore 5 actionable ways you can use social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to increase sales for your dark, ghost or cloud kitchen.
1. Run social media ads
There is no doubt that dark kitchens can grow brand awareness and order volume through social media organically, through the use of frequent posting, hashtags, utilising local Facebook community groups and more, however – using social media ads allows you to target particular audiences in particular postcodes to boost your marketing efforts.
Using Facebook and Instagram ads, your dark kitchen can target potential customers based on interest, demographics and locations – meaning not only can you be sure that those seeing your ads are within your delivery radius, but that they have also expressed interest in products similar to yours. For example, if your dark kitchen sells American cuisine, you can target people who are interested in burgers, hotdogs, the American lifestyle and more. When setting up a campaign through the Facebook Ads Manager, be sure to select ‘Web Traffic’ as your business objective, as you will then only pay for web clicks through to your delivery partner.
When running ads, it may be tempting to adopt a ‘salesy’ approach – however, the more informal you can make your ad, often the better. People don’t like to be sold to, therefore, if your ad appears overly polished, it will stick out and may encourage people to gloss over. Instead, if you position your ad like an every-day piece of content that feels native to the social user experience, it is likely you will see an increased interest in your ad efforts. Through our own tests, running polished ads versus using influencer-sourced imagery (which we will go over below), even halved the cost per click through to Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat.
Top Tip: If you’re looking for inspiration for Facebook & Instagram ads, take a look at the Facebook Ads Library. Here, you can view all the ads currently running across Facebook & Instagram, and can search them by keyword or brand. If you search by keywords ‘Deliveroo’, ‘Uber Eats’ or ‘Just Eat’, you can see how other brands are running delivery-focused ads and take inspiration!
2. Don’t use the same images you use for your delivery partners.
The best images to use on social media are those which show a lifestyle, context or a situation, rather than the sales-styled images we discussed above. They subliminally inspire your consumers to imagine your product as part of their everyday lives and add relevancy to your brand.
However, Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat have rules on the types of images they accept for use on their platforms, often limiting the amount of lifestyle you can have. As a result, it’s likely your image bank consists of solo dishes on a plain background. Great for delivery platforms, bad for social.
To make the most of your social strategy, you should carry out another photoshoot with marketing (whether that be on social media, web or print) in mind. Get some snaps of people interacting with your products - eating your burger, dipping their chicken wing. Additionally, try and get some imagery of your product in environments in which they are ordered for. For example, if you’re selling comfort food - get photos of your foods & packaging in bed with Netflix in the background - anything that simulates the customer experience helps inspire them to picture your product as the perfect solution to their needs.
3. Work with influencers
Working with influencers is a double-whammy. Not only do they provide an endorsement and brand awareness of your products, they also provide you with content - meeting tip 2 above!
You will need to be strategic with your influencer strategy - instead of working with a big influencer for the sake of it - do some research and make sure they’re localised enough so that their audience is within your delivery radius. If you’re operating from multiple kitchens with a wider geographical reach, this is less of an issue - however if you’re only in select areas, you need to be sure that the influencer you’re working with resonates to those areas.
With this in mind, we recommend working with micro/smaller influencers, who focus on food in a particular town. For example, if your dark kitchen is based in Green Park, rather than working with a generic “London foodie”, you could work with an influencer who showcases the best restaurants/spots in Green Park or Westminster.
Top Tip: Payment will vary between influencers, but generally, smaller influencers do not require payment other than a free meal for them and a plus one.
When it comes to collaborating - many dark kitchens are worried about how these influencers can receive their meal, since they do not have a physical premises. There are 2 ways you can carry out the collaboration.
Purchase them a delivery code from your delivery partner and provide this to them to order from your dark kitchen.
Allow them to come to the location of the dark kitchen to collect the meal, but ask them to only talk about the meal as a delivery option.
The latter is usually considered the best approach, as you have control over how the product is dispatched and brought home. Although relying on delivery partners is an easier option, you run the risk of the food being damaged in transit - which can result in frustration of the influencer and poor quality content.
4. Use Instagram reels
The social media sphere is always changing. As it stands, Instagram reels (and their TikTok equivalent) are a great way to reach people who don’t already follow you, and offer brilliant organic reach. Many brands have also seen a 22% increase in engagement from their reels over traditional feed posts.
Reels are famed for being shorter, more informal and more authentic pieces of content compared to what you may share in your feed. This means you won’t need a big, expensive, high-quality video shoot to utilise Instagram reels - instead you can video your product being cooked, prepped and delivered all via your smartphone for greater interest.
Reels in their nature should be shareable, conversational and most importantly - engaging. So, think about some conversations around your products. If you sell burgers, perhaps you could share an Instagram reel asking people whether they’re hands-on with their burgers, or if they use a knife and fork. You’ll know your product better than anyone else - so think about any fun comments or conversations you can spark around them.
5. Add links to delivery partners
Lastly, you should be making it as easy as possible for people to order after seeing you on social media. There are lots of places you can embed your links within Facebook and Instagram to drive people directly from your social media to your delivery partners.
Update your Instagram bio to include your delivery partner of choices’ link. Either this, or consider setting up a free linktr.ee account which will allow you to create a landing page to include more than one link for each delivery partner.
You can also setup an ‘Order Food’ button on your Instagram profile. Once setup, you can also direct people to your delivery partners using the Order Food Instagram stories widget. Additionally, within Instagram stories you can now add a custom link button, which will allow your customers to click directly through to your delivery partners from your stories.
Finally, you should update your Facebook cover buttons to ‘Order Food’ with your delivery partners link, as well as adding links to your delivery partners in some of your Facebook posts & comments section to make it easy for people to order.
Since dark kitchens rely on social media and digital marketing to drive sales & brand awareness, you want to make sure you are getting the most out of your marketing strategy.
At Double Up Social, we specialise in social media management & content creation for food and beverage brands, both dark kitchens and for brick and mortar sites. If the above seems daunting and you would like a quick chat on how we can help grow your dark kitchen using social media, please get in touch here!