An estimated 200 million posts are tagged #food on Instagram each year, while food is also the main topic of conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Yet despite the social chatter around food, there is a crisis in the restaurant sector. Pizza Express is currently in the news for spiralling debts putting huge question marks over its long-term future. Research across the restaurant sector has found that 1,400 restaurants have closed since June 2018, while in the same period the UK’s top restaurants made an £82m loss in the last year, down from a pre-tax profit of £102m 12 months earlier.

Customers are reported to be tightening their spending on the back of concerns about Brexit alongside rising costs because of the collapse in the value of the pound, which has led to the casual dining slump and the record number of restaurant insolvencies in five years.

Experts say that restaurants with strong brand loyalty and a niche in the marketplace will be the ones that survive, with a huge emphasis being placed on companies in this sector to embrace social media to connect and build strong relationships with customers.

Nando’s has become one of the most popular and well-known restaurants in the UK, with a healthy social media strategy to boot. The chain has 1.5m followers on Twitter and 4.2m fans on Facebook.

It came up with a recent novel idea to encourage customers to share their Nando’s experience online with its Finger Selfies campaign. It invited people to tweet pictures of their best finger selfies, made using a Nando’s napkin – driving up social media engagement.

US restaurant chain Applebees encouraged diners to upload photos of their experience, promising to post the best ones onto its own Instagram channel. It received 4,500 new Instagram followers during the campaign and engagement rose by 25 per cent.

Here at The Tonic Communications, we have a track record of helping businesses in the food and retail sector to promote their businesses through effective social media and public relations activity.

Clients have included the Great British Meat Company whose profile was enhanced by a communications strategy that saw a regular ‘Meat Masterclass’ weekly column secured in the men’s lifestyle magazine Esquire Online, reviews by influential mummy bloggers, and regional editorial activity.

The Tonic has worked with a food intolerance testing company on activity to boost sales and its profile. There was coverage in The Sun, MailOnline, MSM, Cosmopolitan and Prima, reaching more than 65 million consumers, while social activity also saw an increase of 600 Facebook customers and a 1,800% increase in website visitors to a peak of over 19,000 visitors. The overall campaign reached more than 65 million consumers and delivered a cost per thousand (CPM) of just 14 pence.

Tonic’s team members also have personal expertise in leading the PR for key brands such as Baileys, Doritos, Bundaberg and Smith’s Snackfoods.

The key to this success is working with the client to generate engaging content and understand the client’s audiences in order to target key messages to their chosen outlets – whether it’s traditional or social media – that will resonate with people.

If you have a food or retail enterprise and want your business to stand out from the crowd we can help, and would love to hear from you. Contact us on