Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing social platform that’s owned by Facebook, Inc. This photo-focused network has become a place for users to share all of their life experiences, especially their experiences with food. Whether it’s a photo of their favorite dish, drink, or dessert, consumers are all about capturing that Instagram-worthy food shot and sharing it with their loyal followers.
Instagram provides your restaurant with a free source of marketing that’s credible and convincing. It’s essential that your Instagram marketing efforts are consistent – even if they may be slow to reap benefits, it is well worth the wait. Being active on Instagram puts your operation ahead of the competition because it allows you to connect with customers where they spend a considerable amount of time and the more touch points you can build with a customer outside your restaurant, the better. Here are some tips for marketing your restaurant on Instagram.
BE SEARCHABLE AND SHAREABLE
Instagram users can search for accounts through people, tags, or location. Use your restaurant’s name as a username or choose one that is recognizable to customers so they can easily find your account. Be sure to utilize relevant keywords in your profile to increase search results. To appear in tag and location searches more often, encourage customers to take pictures and tag your restaurant in their post by your username, location, or both. Don’t be afraid to showcase your Instagram account name throughout your restaurant on your menu, specials board, or table tents. Make it as easy as possible for customers to incorporate your restaurant in their posts so they can share their dining experiences, images of your food, and promote your brand.
UTILIZE THE HEROES OF INSTAGRAM: HASHTAGS
Hashtags are the key to Instagram. They help users search for related content and connect with other users searching for similar topics. Hashtags automatically increase your posts popularity, improving the chance for a greater reach. You can write up to 30 hashtags in each post; however, some people think using 30 makes their posts look spammy. To keep your engagement high and your post looking polished, try writing your hashtags in a separate comment on your post. The most trending hashtags to use include #food, #foodies, #foodpic, #dinner, #brunch, #delish, and #nomnom. Geographic specific hashtags can also help narrow your target audience.
CATER POSTS TO CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT
Create posts that will keep your Instagram audience engaged. While your food will likely be the star of your profile, keep it exciting with different style photos. Introductory posts of your staff , in-action shots of your chefs in the kitchen, and your restaurant’s décor and atmosphere will attract someone looking for a warm, inviting place to dine.
ENGAGE CUSTOMERS WITH CONTESTS
One way to populate your Instagram account is to create an incentive for customers to tag your restaurant or your restaurant’s location in their posts. For example, Dunkin’ Donuts ran a campaign called “UpgraDDe Your Sandwich,” where people could share photos of their homemade lunches in need of a “Dunkin’ Donuts upgrade” using the hashtag #UpgraDDe. Engaging customers with a fun, innovative idea can create buzz for your restaurant, encourage diners to try your offerings, showcase customer loyalty, and advertise your brand.
SHOWCASE YOUR INSTAGRAM PHOTOS ACROSS SOCIAL ACCOUNTS
If a customer doesn’t follow you on Instagram, it is still possible that they follow you on Facebook or Twitter. To make the most of your Instagram, share your posts across all of your social platforms. This will not only help you increase views and gain followers, but it will also help unify and strengthen your brand.
Since Instagram is a photo-focused platform, it’s important to impress your audience with high-quality photos. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to have an impressive Instagram profile. Here are some strategies for making your pictures look more professional.
- Photo-editing tools are your friends. Utilize the filters Instagram provides – look for the most natural-looking filters. Or, if you’re more tech-savvy, try editing your photos with apps like VSCO and Camera Plus.
- Avoid using the camera flash.
- Experiment with more than one angle.
- Stay away from harsh overhead lighting.