Common Social Media Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

By Jackie Prange

restaurant owner reviewing negative social media interactions and reviews

You could have the perfect lighting, the most thoughtful caption, the most delicious looking plate, but if you’re not using social media tools effectively, those efforts are all for naught. I mean…there’s nothing more depressing than a like-less picture.

While most of us have enough social savvy to avoid big social media blunders, what about the small errors that separate successful social media strategies from unsuccessful ones?

Indeed, the devil’s in the details when it comes to the small mistakes that hit your restaurant where it hurts. In this article, we’ll shed some light on the little things that could be impacting your social media strategy and how to fix them.

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Inconsistent Storytelling or Voice

Maybe one day you’re speaking from “I” and the next day you’re saying, “we” and then the next day you’re using colloquial language – maybe even tossing in a swear word or two – and the next day you’re being extremely formal. One question: WHO ARE YOU?!

For a brand looking to establish trust and stand out from the crowd, your brand’s personality needs to be singular and consistent. When you maintain a uniform tone that matches your restaurant’s brand, customers can develop an affinity for your brand since they’ll be able to recognize you amongst the endless sea of posts within their newsfeeds.

Missed Branding Opportunities

Repeat after me: put your logo in it…subtly. By discreetly showcasing your brand in the images you post, you’ll be able to gain logo recognition while you subtly remind your audience who made that delicious, mouth-watering burger that has blessed their newsfeeds.

For example, capture one of your most photogenic menu items and strategically place the menu next to it. Try to focus on two things: First, what your following is getting. Second, creating a really great social media story. The last thing any user wants is to feel like their Instagram feed is a giant advertising forum, which leads us to our next point.

Too Salesy/Missing the “So What”

To reduce the risk of turning your social profiles into giant classified ads for your restaurant, ask yourself these two questions:

#1: “What am I trying to prove with this post?” 

Is it that your brand is health conscious? Or your restaurant is super busy? Or it’s a great place to grab an after-work drink with friends?

#2: “What is my following getting out of this post?”

Is it a touching story of someone who proposed in your restaurant? Or an interesting fact about your featured dish? Or a recipe they can try at home?

These questions sum up your posts to help you avoid turning your social presence into a giant sales pitch. Instead, you’re adding to your brand’s story and giving back to your audience without them having to spend a penny.

Using Unprofessional Photos

Grainy cell phone images of food under a heat lamp might not be the most appetizing picture to post. Nor would a half-eaten raw steak, gravy and mash – no, no. To truly master restaurant Instagram marketing, you’ve got to curate that plate; invest in a real camera, stand up on a chair and adjust your lighting. You don’t need to be a professional to take ‘like-worthy’ photos – not everything needs to look like an advertisement. But your photos should at least look appetizing.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

#1: Avoid using flash. Natural light is your new #BFF

#2: Put that dish in focus by holding down on your screen

#3: Make your meal stand out with an unobtrusive background or whitespace

#4: Use props (cutting boards, flowers), texture (wood or tile) and colour accents (parsley, lime, colourful cups) to make users stop and ‘share’

#5: A simple edit can go a long way. Apps like VSCO cam and Afterlight have subtle, yet effective, filters that will help give your dishes that perfect glow 

2 preview pages of the guide to restaurant marketing
The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Marketing

Everything you need to know about social media, digital marketing, SEO, and more!

Download Now

Failing to Interact with Customer Content

If one of your customers posts an amazing picture of their dish, or shares an incredible story about their experience at your venue, ‘share it’ from the rooftops! Highlighting customer-curate content is as good as any testimonial.

Even if you’re working within strict aesthetic guidelines, you can still leverage a customer’s post by giving them a shoutout in your caption. Whatever you do, let them know you not only saw but appreciated their post.

It’s not just the bad press that needs attention – showing your positive customers some love is equally as important. Always like, respond, and interact with content – even it’s a simple “so glad you had a great time! We’ll see you again soon.” For those wanting to go the extra mile, thank your followers for sharing their experience with a coupon for their next visit. What better way could you communicate your appreciation, while also securing a repeat visit? Win-win!

Missing Geotags

While we’ve already addressed the “who are you” question, the next one is just as important: “WHERE are you?” Geo-tags will provide the answer.

Assigning a geo-tag to your photos functions in two ways: First, by allowing any user searching a certain geo-tag to stumble upon your photo. Second, by tapping into Instagram’s algorithms so that Instagram knows who to showcase your content to in the Explore feed. Similarly to Google and SEO, Instagram wants to display your content to the most relevant audience – by geotagging your photos, you can do just that.

Lack of Monitoring

You don’t know what you don’t know! While you can’t control the conversations that take place on social media, you can certainly contribute to them. Silence is akin to apathy so get in there while you can with a social media monitoring tool. With the likes of Hootsuite and Sprout Social’s keyword monitoring capabilities, you’ll never be out of the loop again.

Misused Hashtags

We speak about this ad nauseam in our Expert Guide to Restaurant Social Media, but #don’t #over #do #your #hashtags. #It’s #like, #really #annoying. Instead, reserve one or two pertinent hashtags for your restaurant Instagram captions. According to TrackMaven, 11 hashtags is the magic number for optimal interaction. If you’re #dying to use more, don’t fret – you can easily hide any superfluous hashtags by using an asterisk or period chain, or by simply placing your hashtags in a comment.

For example:




#food #hashtags #foodies #overhashtaganddie #hashtagbestpractices

Posting Frequency

Like Goldilocks, you want to get your posting game just right – not too many (or else your following is oversaturated and can become otherwise immune to your charms) and not too few (or else they might ask, who is that?)  

According to Blog2Social, the magic number are as follows:


  • Post 1-2 times per day maximum, with the best time to post between 1-4 PM and 6-10 PM


  • Post 1-2 posts minimum, with the best time to post between 12-2PM and 7-10 PM.

With the never-ending amount of social media best practices available at your fingertips, there’s no excuse to leave these channels untapped. There are also always opportunities to explore new platforms like TikTok marketing for restaurants, where you can make the most of your video creation skills. Utilize the platforms available in order to grow your restaurant community and give your revenue a well-deserved boost.

2 preview pages of the guide to restaurant marketing
The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Marketing

Everything you need to know about social media, digital marketing, SEO, and more!

Download Now
Photo of Jackie Prange
by Jackie Prange

Jackie was a Content Marketing Specialist and Social Media strategist at TouchBistro before moving into business development role. She covered the latest food, dining, and technology trends for the restaurant industry. A lover of all things coffee, Jackie’s hobbies include breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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