Using Social Proof To Grow Your Restaurant

Hana Ames
4 min readJul 28, 2019


Your restaurant may not be doing as well as you’d like it to. Perhaps it’s been around a long time and you’d like a little help bringing it into the modern age? Or maybe it’s new and you just need a few hints and tips to get it off the ground. Whatever your need, we’re here to help you grow your restaurant.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is a relatively new term for a pretty old concept. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior. In layman’s terms, this is kind of a nice way of talking about accidental peer pressure. If everyone is doing it, it must be cool. Another way of looking at it is modern day word of mouth.

Types of Social Proof

There are many types of social proof, but only some will be relevant to your business, so we’re going to focus on those.


As a customer, when you’re looking for somewhere to eat, you, like most people, will have a look online before visiting a restaurant. They’re either looking for any restaurant that looks good, or they’re looking to see if the one they’re thinking of is decent. Either way, the reviews that your restaurant has are important. Would you rather eat at a place with lots of reviews or just a few? Think about what drives your choices, as it’s probably similar for everyone else.


When you notice that a lot of people have checked in to a restaurant, you’re more likely to be curious about it. It also means that you’re likely to speak to that person and ask for a recommendation, or what they thought of the venue and food. The same goes for your customers. Make the most of this by encouraging them to check in to your restaurant.


Whether that be celebrity endorsements or just your pal suggesting a place to you, recommendations go a long way to helping people make up their mind as to where to eat. Being featured on any kind of ‘top ten’ list, or similar, can be

There are many other types of social proof but we’re going to look at the ones most specific to your restaurant.

How To Use Social Proof To Grow Your Restaurant

Offer Free Wifi

Having free wifi for your guests means that you can capitalize on customers checking in on social media and thus raise your social media presence. Not only is this just a really nice added bonus for your customers, this means that you can increase the number of people who know about your restaurant.

Look Full

Although you probably know this, you should seat guests in areas visible to the outside, first. Nobody visits an empty restaurant, and so you should make yourself look as full as possible to the outside world. Obviously, you don’t want to scare away potential customers by looking too full, but you want there to be a decent number of people visible from the outside of the restaurant to make the place look popular.

Get Reviews

This links in with the free wifi. If you make it easier for customers to review you, they are more likely to. Being able to upload pictures of their food to various social media sites, including review websites, for free, means that you’re increasing the potential for you to get immediate reviews. Whilst customers are in the restaurant, there’s more chance they’ll review you, rather than having them get home and forget. To motivate people to write a review, add a coupon code that customers can use on their next purchase.

Most Popular Meals

If you want customers to order a particular meal, try having a section of your menu as ‘most popular’ meals. If customers know that most people go for a particular food choice, they’re more inclined to choose it, too.

Media Mentions

Even if it’s something small like a local newspaper, try to get your restaurant mentioned in the media. Everyone loves going to a place they think is ‘famous’ whether that be in the mainstream media or just a little local paper.


Has your restaurant won any awards? What about your chefs? Make sure that you have this information somewhere very visible, either on your website or social media pages. Do you have a high number of reviews on TripAdvisor? Chuck in on there. These all lend credibility to your restaurant and add that little extra that you can’t get just from word of mouth.

Whatever form of social proof you decide to concentrate on using, make sure you’re only using natural and organic social proof — no making stuff up or using cheats to build up your social proof! It might seem like a good idea at the time but will only undermine your company in the long run.