Social Media Advertising for Restaurants in Dubai [Updated 2022]

authorLawrence Coward dateSeptember 05, 2016

Whether your restaurant has been up and running or is newly launched, you're going to need social media marketing to attract foodies to your tables. Here's how to advertise and attract visitors and residents in Dubai to your restaurant. 



What is the best way of marketing your restaurant?

While word of mouth recommendations might be the best and most cost effective way to bring in new diners, this can often take time as your reputation builds. Give customers ample opportunities to easily share reviews as you grow, as these are a key factor in selecting a restaurant to visit. Meanwhile, a faster way to bring people in is to advertise your restaurant.

So, what is the best, cost effective method to market your restaurant? After the huge sums of money spent on the fit out and licensing, for most restaurants there may be a need to spend wisely in order to capture your target audience. Large billboards down Sheikh Zayed Road are a most likely a 'no-go'. Print Media such as newspapers and magazines are a costly option and may no longer be the most relevant medium to communicate with a highly targeted audience. With this in mind, Digital Marketing is the answer.

So how do you target your audience effectively? How do you stand out among 11,800 other eateries in Dubai?

Social Media Advertising is the answer

While this may seem obvious given the nature of this article, it's important to understand why we strongly advocate Social Media Advertising within the context of restaurant marketing, especially in a city like Dubai. Here's why:

  • You can target your ideal customers based on precise location (including locality within Dubai) and demographics
  • It is measurable - table reservations are now easier to track if generated from social media than ever before
  • Your target customers spend hours each day on their favourite social media platforms. Unlike newspapers and magazines, we don't need to question if your customers are consuming this content. As a result, more people than ever are digesting content on social media platforms and this is only increasing
  • It is extremely cost effective when compared to traditional advertising alternatives.
  • No wastage. This is a huge consideration. By identifying your target audience and being able to map these online, you will only show your adverts to those that really matter to your business

Which social media platforms should I use for my restaurant?

Let’s look at targeting capabilities of Facebook and Instagram, probably the two most powerful platforms to focus your advertising budget on. The extent of targeting capabilities has seriously improved over the past few of years and we can narrow this down in terms of the following areas of information:

  • Time based targeting: Target those diners when they are most likely to book a table or order from your restaurant. For example, rather than having a sustained advert that displays throughout the day for a lunchtime offer, we would recommend spending more of the budget and focusing between 10am and 2pm to catch those who are thinking about lunch.
  • Life Event targeting: We are currently running a targeted advertising campaign for a tourism agency focusing on honeymoon holiday deals. We are focusing only on those who have set their relationship status' as "engaged" on their profiles. Likewise, those whose birthdays are during this month are more likely to be looking for an event like a brunch or yacht hire. Alternatively, if you wanted to target the friends of someone, who's birthday is coming up, the targeting possibilities also allows this!
  • Geo-Targeting: Unlike the olden days of Dubai, there is not much benefit in advertising a brunch in Sports City to an audience in Deira or possibly even Dubai Marina. The content may look nice and you may receive a high volume of views but realistically there are a few decision based factors for this audience not spending money on this and you will ultimately see a minimized return on investment.

How much should I spend on social media advertising for my restaurant?

When you have finally decided who you are targeting and the content (or offer) you wish to push, the next step is to allocate a certain budget to ensure it reaches the audience. For a restaurant in Dubai, a budget of around AED 5,000 per month you will generate the type of awareness that will allow you to see a return. Ideally, aim to spend between 7 and 10 percent of your sales on marketing.

How does social media advertising work?

Let me run you through the methodology of running a social media campaign and how to drive table reservation to your restaurant. For this example, let’s say that our objective is to generate awareness and table bookings for a Friday Brunch.

Here's what you need to consider:

  • What assets will you use? Initially the content of the post (and adverts) need to be finalized. Using good quality photos, gifs animations and graphic design work all attract attention and can grab your audience’s eye. Be careful not to over-doctor your images though. Make sure your restaurant looks and feels authentic and genuine to potential guests. Consider videos as this is the content that generates the highest levels of engagement. 
  • Next, select your audience. But as discussed, try not to be too broad and target the types of customers that are realistically going to visit your restaurant.
  • Set the "Call to Action". What do you want the viewer of the advert to do? The advert should take the potential customer on a journey that they can immediately start on. One example could be to tell your diners to message you through Facebook in order to book a table or make an enquiry.
  • RESPOND! There has been a huge shift from booking via email and phone to now booking via direct messaging. Customers may be at work or busy elsewhere, and may not have time to pick up the phone in order to speak to your team. In Dubai, and possibly due to how diverse the city's cultures are, people are also more comfortable with typing English than speaking it. The key here is to answer quickly whilst the interest is there and turn that social media fan into a paying customer!
  • Don't rely on just one advert. Run multiple adverts for the best chance of success. Be creative and try different wording, phrases, terminology and images. For example, we often find that "2-4-1" works a lot better than a "buy 1 get 1 free" message. You can move budget from the least successful adverts and campaigns to further push those adverts that are doing well.

The UAE and Dubai specifically is a tough and highly competitive market. The UAE has the most restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world and competition has never been greater.

If you have a restaurant in the UAE and have not seen ROI from Social Media Advertising, then get in touch for a chat. I'm sure we can help.

Simply fill out the form on this page to get started!