Instagram Stories for Restaurants: What We Know So Far

By: Cameret Bannister

7 Minute Read

Oct 11, 2016

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instagram stories for restaurants

If you’re anything like me, you might still be getting used to the basics of Instagram and Snapchat.

Then a new player entered the game of restaurant social media. As of August 2, 2016, Instagram launched Instagram Stories - a Snapchat-like feature that allows you to post photos and videos to your “Story” that remain visible to your followers for 24 hours.

You might also be asking yourself, “why should I care?” You might have even created a Snapchat account to do the same exact thing for your restaurant.

While it’s hard to know the exact impact that Instagram Stories will have on your restaurant, here’s what we know so far.

What’s Instagram Stories?restaurant social media marketing

Instagram Stories is a feature within the Instagram platform where you can post photos and videos that will be available for your followers to view for 24 hours. It differs from the normal Instagram model because after that period, the posts are no longer viewable.

Stories are located in the main Instagram feed at the top of the page, and each Instagram account gets their own circle. Videos can be up to 10 seconds long, and you can add text, drawings, and emojis to mark up your photos and videos alike.

Great stuff. But why should I care about Instagram Stories?

To be honest, the true value of Instagram Stories is yet to be known due to its novelty. Still, there are a few early predictors in how much exposure you could potentially receive from Instagram Stories.

According to AdWeek, Instagram has five times the amount of active monthly users as Snapchat, at 500 million compared to 100 million. If you’re trying to grow your follower base, it might be easier to do so with Instagram as a platform simply based on the sheer volume of Instagram users.

A great example of this potential reach was demonstrated by Nike. On the day of the Instagram Stories release, Nike generated 800,000 views in 24 hours on a story unveiling a Michigan football jersey product release. Comparatively, the largest viewership that Nike had seen on a Snapchat story was 66,000 views.

Another reason to consider Instagram Stories is based on Instagram’s new algorithm. Recently, Instagram changed its feed algorithm from showing posts in reversed chronological order to rearranging the posts to show the “best” posts first.

What does this algorithm change mean for your restaurant? It means that your normal posts could get skipped over based on what users have defined as their most “interesting” posts. In lieu of a user actually selecting what interests them, Instagram imposes its own logic based on what users have liked or shared in the past.

Instagram Stories combats this by posting the most recent stories at the top of the feed, no matter what. If you’re actively promoting this content, you’ll be top of mind for all of your followers to see.

Okay, you’ve convinced me. How do I get started sharing on my Story?

Step 1: Download the Latest Version of the Instagram App

If you don’t already have the app, you’ll have to download it and set up an Instagram account for your restaurant. If you are already using Instagram, then you will need to make sure you are using the most recent version of the app.

Step 2: Configure Your Story Settings

Head to account settings, and you’ll see a new option to configure your Story settings. Here, you can choose who will be able to see your story as well as configure if you want people to be able to reply, etc. If you don’t change these settings, your Story will be available to view based on your normal privacy settings.

Step 3: Start Adding to Your Storyrestaurant instagram

Once you’re all set up and logged in, you’ll notice the plus sign in the upper righthand corner. Tap it, and you’ll be sent to a screen where you can record a video or take a picture right in the moment. Alternatively, if you swipe down, you can upload a recent image or video that you’ve taken and saved to your camera roll.

Step 4: Stylize Your Images and Post

Pasted_image_at_2016_08_19_12_58_PM.pngTo add text or drawings to your post, tap the circles in the upper right hand corners of the image. You’ll have options to draw freehand, insert text, or insert emojis. When you’ve finished your doodling or captioning, hit the “Done” button in the upper righthand corner.

You can also add different filters to your images or videos by swiping right and left on the screen. These will change the color or style of the actual photo.

Once you’ve decided on the final style of the image or video, hit the checkmark at the bottom of the screen and, voila! Your post will appear on your story.

Step 5: Gauge Interaction and Respond

But wait! That’s not all! Once you post on your story, you will be able to take your Instagram activity to the next level and see who views your posts. This can give you insight into what sort of content is the most popular as well as the times and days of the week to garner the most viewers.

Another feature of Instagram Stories allows users to interact and respond directly to photos and videos. Through this feature, you can encourage customers to send you direct messages and respond directly when they send messages on their own.

I’m ready to start posting. What should I put on my Instagram Story?

While there isn’t one set answer to the types of content you should put on your Instagram Story, here are some creative and fun ideas to begin:

  • A Day in the Life: Let customers go behind the scenes by featuring one of your employees as they go through their day-to-day activities and excitement. This idea is rewarding on two fronts: customers will feel like they are getting exclusive, “behind-the-scenes” material, and employees will feel valued when they are selected to be featured.

  • Short-Term Deals and Promotions: Want to give your followers a special treat? Use your story to feature a short-term (24-hour) promotion. You’ll be able to drive immediate traffic to the restaurant. Plus, you’ll be able to see how much traction your Instagram Stories are getting to see how many people come in with the “secret code”.

  • Tease New Recipes and Menu Items: Have a new it
    em that you’re introducing to the menu? Feature it on your story to build some excitement and anticipation around the launch! Bonus: Show the cooking / prep process from beginning to finish for a new menu item, allowing customers to see exactly how it’s made.
  • Event Coverage: If you’re hosting an exciting event at your restaurant, why not cover the live details through an Instagram story? This will help to showcase your restaurant as an event space and offers the potential to draw in additional event reservations.

Got it. I’m an Instagram Stories expert now! Let’s recap.

Instagram Stories is a new feature within the Instagram platform to display photos and videos on your Story for 24-hours. While the power of the tool hasn’t quite been measured yet, there are early predictors and many creative ways to use your Story to reach a broader audience, inspire greater social media interaction with customers, and drive traffic to your restaurant.


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