Transparent Growth Measurement (NPS)

14 best Contest Ideas for Social Media Marketing in Restaurant Industry

Contributors: Amol Ghemud
Published: August 14, 2018


Here’s a range of creative contest ideas designed to enhance social media engagement and brand visibility for restaurants. These ideas include unique and engaging ways to involve customers, such as photo contests, trivia, recipe contests, and social media challenges, each aiming to increase interaction, customer loyalty, and online presence.

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What are Contests in Social Media Marketing context?

Social media marketing contests are the most effective form of communication between your brand and the audience!

You absolutely need a proper social media campaign in addition to your conventional marketing campaign. Unlike traditional marketing, digital platform gives a social marketer’s audience the liberty to communicate, give feedback to your brand!

Social media marketing contests or cookery competition ideas are a great way to promote your restaurant business on social media. It helps your customers to get engaged with the restaurant, sets a trend and gives a high presence of your brand name in their mind.

Ultimately the reason behind the presence of any platform for social media for a brand is the commendable revenue that is generated, especially with the engaging post and ideas for contests.

Contests can boost your restaurants’ online presence over social media marketing channels, it can create a ‘wow’ factor needed to differentiate your restaurants from the others.

How are contests done through Social Media Marketing?

For each social media marketing platform, the contests or contest posts are crafted individually depending upon the objective of the contest.

For example:

Objective: Create Noise for your restaurant

Flea Café is doing a tagging the photo contest, where they post for social media which is ideal for Instagram/ Facebook.

If they want to have a poll for their best menu, twitter will be the apt platform.

But also it depends where you’re the target audience is active on which platform.

FIRST, get your Basics right to get an astounding result!

1. Decide the objective of the contest: What do you want the end results?

Be clear with your marketing social media strategy. Whether you want the drive in traffic on Zomato site, create buzz around your restaurant location, generate more traffic in a restaurant during weekdays, get user- generated content, increase services, social media marketing presence etc. Now that your objective is clear, you have the liberty to strategize the contest.

2. Before you start the contest: Think how you will reward the customers

What do you want the customers to take away at the end of the day? Make sure you have attractive offers that will motivate them to participate in the contest. Also, it should be your target audience’s point of interest

3. Hosting a contest includes technicalities too!

  1. See that you have a clear picture of your contest strategy and details
  2. Choose the day and date wisely, along with the duration that the contest will last
  3. Contests are a great way to build momentum, hence decide how often will you run them
  4. Rules, terms and conditions are must to have a clarity from both the participant and the host end

4. Host a contest that is interesting and fun conduct

Know what your audience is interested in and use that knowledge to create a well-rounded engaging contest!

Now back to business!

Here are the different kinds of engaging ideas for contests

1. Website Treasure Hunt

If you want your target audience to lure back to your website from your Facebook traffic, this is a perfect giveaway!


California Spice is a well-known restaurant, hosted a contest where they had hidden pictures of the dishes on their website and the participants had to find them and post it in the comment section.

2. Shout Out to favourite menu dish

Ask your followers to share with their most loved dish in the comment section on Facebook/ Instagram

3. Caption this Dish

Simply post an attractive picture of your signature dish or a picture of from the kitchen, or even a snap of a willing customer and ask the followers to caption it.

4. Facebook live giveaway

Create a situation in the restaurant where you will be going live and after a specific snap of time, there will an end result. The followers have to guess what will be happening in the end! It will drive the users attention, engagement and interest towards the restaurant

Example: Buzz feed created a Watermelon Explosion Viral Video Live!

The followers had to guess how many elastic bands it would take to before the watermelon exploded. Can you believe it was watched by 11 million people!

5. Snap it

Ask your followers to check-in on Facebook and post pictures of their favourite dishes, at the end of the month. Three best clicked pictures will be featured and will get a reward.

6. Guess the Dish

You may create restaurant competitions e.g. Hide a dish in a sizzler probably and ask the users to guess the dish! Reward the winners with a certain amount discount to motivate them to visit the restaurant.

7. Vote for your favourite menu

Give your users a chance to choose for your upcoming menu. It will have around 3-4 options and they will decide by commenting under the post.

8. Fill in the blanks

There should an interesting graphic with text overlay. Basically your followers have to ‘fill in the blanks’ to complete the statement.


What goes best with coffee………..

A cup of tea is served best with………

The best flavour for ice-cream this summer is…………

Choose a random player and reward him with relevant price. It will help to spread awareness and pump up new interest in the audience

9. Trivia Contest

There are series of questions in this digital contest, each answer has a hint hidden in the previous question.

Social media Contest Examples:

Name one ingredient from the previous post that has a secret ingredient in this dish

Previous Post: Had featured Apple Pie (Added cinnamon powder in it)

Current Question: Guess the secret ingredient in this sweet dish

Answer is Cinnamon Powder

10. Guessing Game

Create a contest posts where the followers will guess and comment to the nearest answer.


“Think how many gems are in the jar?” or

11. Recipe Contest Idea

For restaurants that have their in-house food products for sale, can ask their customers to make a dish with those products and send their recipes. You can make the audience vote for their favourite recipe shared.

Example: Cafe’ Mozilla sells grounded coffee powder, they hosted a contest to share a recipe using their coffee powder [like Coffee Cake, Coffee Sundae, Coffee Toffee]. The best recipe wins a reward.

12. Tag-a-Friend Contests

In order to hike the graph of your reach on social media, ask your followers to tag their friends in a post or comment. Reward them with few percent discount on their next restaurant visit.


13. Hash TAG Contest:

Host a online contest on Instagram where the followers have to use a specific hashtag to share their own photograph. Use of hashtag will make it easy for you to track your entries. Choose the winner by going through the hashtag at the end of the digital contest.

13. Re-post Giveaway!

Ask your customers to re-post their own photo or picture of the dish/resto, or tell them to retweet a particular post and then you can choose the winner by going through the retweeters. Restaurant giveaways idea works like a charm.

While on Instagram, ask have to ask the followers to re-post a specific picture, along with the mentioned hashtag to track the entries.


Such Contests and competitions ideas make your restaurant’s brand reach exponentially on social media; at the end of the day, you have more people knowing about you and more people visiting your restaurant.

Also, make sure you promote your contest. If people are not aware of your contest, they won’t participate or spread a word about your restaurant – especially the people you want to reach.

If you have more great examples you can share them below in the comment section.


1. How is social media used in the restaurant industry?

One of the quickest ways to tell customers about your restaurant is through social media, which can also be used to share news like menu updates, daily specials, temporary holiday hours, one-time events, promos, etc.

2. How can restaurants improve social media marketing?

Tips for social media marketing to advertise your restaurant

  • Develop your film and photo skills.
  • Include hashtags linked to food in your posts.
  • Promote Facebook messages to both residents and visitors.
  • Hold contests and polls to engage your community.
  • Make booking a table and viewing your selection simple.

3. What are some best social media contest ideas?

  • Gift Card Raffle. Restaurants should use gift card marketing for several factors.
  • Like, Follow, and Tag for a Chance to Win.
  • Win by Sharing.
  • Write a Review to Enter to Win.
  • Allow customers to select menu items.
  • A naming competition.
  • “Caption this photo,” “Customer of the Week,” or “Customer of the Month.”

4. How do you attract people to a contest?

Five suggestions for eatery competitions to draw participants

Facebook and Instagram are social media sites, but they differ significantly in planning and carrying out competitions. Here are some concepts for eatery contests that everyone on Instagram will want to enter:

  1. Invite a friend to join you for a free dinner to win.
  2. Recognize the newest menu option to receive a free item.
  3. Submit a caption to receive a $50 gift card.
  4. Share your preferences with us for a chance to receive a chef training session.
  5. Describe your affection for your partner and enter to win a free romantic dinner by doing so.
  6. Post about it to be entered to win a free meal for you and a companion.
  7. Write a comment to enter to win a night out for a quartet of people.
  8. Get the meal of your choice for nothing
  9. Share this article, and you’ll receive an invitation to a special tasting session.

5. How do you attract people to a contest?

Thirteen Ingenious Restaurant Competition Concepts or Food Competition Ideas

  • Giveaway of Gift Cards
  • Follow, Like, and Tag for Prizes
  • Share to Win 
  • Post a Review to Enter to Win
  • Allow patrons to select menu items
  • An awarding of names
  • “Add a caption to this picture!”
  • A week or monthly customer of the week
  • Make an assortment
  • A Month or Year of Free Meals
  • Giveaway of Items
  • Themed competitions
  • Contests with a Time Limit

6. What are some effective contest ideas for social media marketing in the restaurant industry?

Ideas for Restaurant Contests to Increase Sales and Customer Engagement

  1. Giveaway of gift cards.
  2. Follow, Like, and Tag for Prizes.
  3. Win by Sharing.
  4. Submit an evaluation to win.
  5. Enable menu item selection by customers.
  6. A naming competition.
  7. “Add a caption to this picture!”
  8. Week or monthly customer of the month.

7. How can businesses ensure that their contests are engaging and incentivize participation?

12 Creative Strategies to Promote a Contest to Increase Customer Engagement

  1. Encourage customers to participate
  2. Develop A Sound Plan and Use Quality Visuals
  3. Utilize a brief video
  4. Create A Funnel
  5. Use Consumer Submissions in Your Marketing
  6. Request online votes on social media
  7. Increase Contestants’ Entries for Tags
  8. Use an Eye-Catching Hashtag
  9. Use influencer marketing.
  10. Get Reddit to Promote It
  11. Make use of TikTok
  12. Assign a name and a unified look and feel to it.

8. What are some best practices for promoting contests on social media platforms?

Regardless of the social media platform you decide to use for your competition, stick to these guidelines to conduct a fantastic contest:

  • Clear your goals.
  • Choose What You Will Give Away.
  • Identify the rules of the contest.
  • Your social media contest should be promoted.
  • Follow the contest and declare the winner(s)
  • Analyze the results and UGC.

9. How can businesses measure the success of their social media contests?

Measurement of Social Media Campaigns in 5 Simple Steps

  1. Identify your social media objectives.
  2. Make the appropriate social media measurement tool selections.
  3. Choose the KPIs you’ll use for measurement.
  4. Benchmarking: How did your campaign compare to others’?
  5. Produce performance reports for social media.

10. How do you write a giveaway post?

  • Catchy headline: Highlight the prize and urge participation.
  • Clear instructions: Explain entry requirements (follow, like, tag, etc.).
  • Compelling visuals: Use attractive images or videos.
  • Set an end date: Generate excitement with a deadline.
  • Mention contest rules: Be transparent and avoid confusion.

11. What is social media contest?

A way to engage your audience by offering prizes for specific actions like following, liking, or sharing content. It increases brand awareness and promotes interaction.

12. Can you post a contest on Instagram?

Yes, Instagram allows contests but follow their guidelines. Avoid misleading claims and clearly state rules and disclaimer.

13. How do you announce a contest on social media?

  • Create a dedicated post with eye-catching visuals.
  • Briefly explain the prize and entry requirements.
  • Use relevant hashtags to reach a wider audience.
  • Encourage sharing and tagging friends.
  • Pin the post to your profile for better visibility.

14. How do you announce a new contest?

  • Post teasers beforehand to build anticipation.
  • Utilize your email list and other platforms to spread the word.
  • Collaborate with influencers for wider reach.
  • Create a countdown to the official launch.

Remember, clarity, excitement, and clear instructions are key for successful social media contests!

This is just a sneak peek. How about we take your social media presence by storm!

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About the Author

amol ghemud
Optimizer in Chief

Amol has helped catalyse business growth with his strategic & data-driven methodologies. With a decade of experience in the field of marketing, he has donned multiple hats, from channel optimization, data analytics and creative brand positioning to growth engineering and sales.

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