This post was last updated on Feb 18, 2021.
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There’s no denying it: food porn rules the restaurant world. That's why 69% of restaurants are using Instagram.
Believe it or not, it actually isn't too difficult to make Insta work for you.
A huge majority of restaurants on Instagram just post the basics — food photo here, team photo there — but they could be doing so much more to boost their audience engagement. Let's explore five ways to make your restaurant Instagram posts stand out in a sea of digital competition.
Infographic: The Facts of Restaurant Instagram Posts
As the infographic from Fundera below points out, the majority of millennials snap a photo of their food before they indulge, often sharing the picture with their followers and friends.
Letting your guests put out your restaurant Instagram posts for you is easy – and free. To make your restaurant more Instagram-friendly, take note of the tips provided in the infographic:
- Feature the more popular "grammed" foods, like pizza, burgers, and sushi.
- Keep your restaurant well-lit.
- Pay attention to the detail of your plates and glassware for added aesthetic.
Follow these best practices and a lot of the work will be done for you.
These are the top digital marketing trends restaurateurs are jumping on to stand out and capture guests' attention in 2020.
Crafting Your Own Restaurant Instagram Posts
Want to take the restaurant Instagram game in house? Good choice. While word of mouth from fans is essential, nothing can replace a strong presence on your own Instagram account.
Here are 5 key strategies to make your restaurant Instagram account stand out that are favored by social media experts. Incorporate them into your own social media plans, and you should be able to take your Instagram presence to whole new level.
1. Build a content calendar
Unlike Twitter or Facebook, Instagram is a platform that really thrives on spontaneity. It’s all about capturing those candid moments in your restaurant.
But at the same time, it helps to have a basic framework in mind for your posts so you can continue to post consistently, which is really the key to building up an engaged audience.
Draft up a schedule of your upcoming events and promotions so you know how many posts you have to do in the lead up. And to save yourself time at the start of the week, plan out different themes that you want to cover each day so that your content remains diverse. For example, on Monday you could share an inspiring quote about coffee, on Tuesday something from your breakfast menu, on Wednesday the lunch special, and so on. Check out this well-structured content calendar from Kissmetrics that might be helpful.
2. Encourage customers to post content for you
Encouraging customers to create content on your behalf is a fantastic way to get word out about your venue. People are already taking photos of your food – so give them an incentive to do it more often!
For example, get your front of house to tell diners that you’re running an Instagram contenst. The campaign could be quite simple: if they take a photo of their meal and use a specific hashtag, they could enter to win a free breakfast (or a different prize of your choosing). Make sure your hashtag is visible throughout the room so they are constantly reminded of it – on the menu board, on tables, by the cash register.
And when customers do share photos of your venue, put them in the spotlight. Use an app called Repost to share their photo on your Instagram page. That way you’re showing them that you really appreciate their participation, and you’re showing potential new customers how much people love your venue.
3. Connect with influencers
There’s no denying the power of Instagram celebrities. Just look at the Kardashians – it’s fair to say half of their fame is built on their Instagram accounts, where they have millions of followers.
That’s not to say you have to contact a Hollywood celebrity to get the word out about your restaurant. Instead, find out who the active and popular Instagram users are in your area. Look for food bloggers who have an influential presence. Then reach out to them personally and ask if they might be interested in doing something called an Instagram takeover.
Essentially, this means they take over your Instagram account for a short period of time (say seven days). During this time, they have the freedom to post whatever feels natural to them, whether it’s pictures of your food, behind the scenes with your team, or with their friends hanging out in your dining room. Food Republic regularly allow chefs to take over their Instagram account using the hashtag #FRTakeover, and it boosts their following every time. Take a look – they have more than 200,000 followers!
4. Research your hashtags
Instead of randomly choosing the first hashtags that come to mind, research the hashtags you want to use, so you can make sure you’re reaching the right audience.
Use a mix of popular, general hashtags like #foodporn or #coffeelover, and niche hashtags that target customers in your location.
To find the right hashtags for your restaurant, use a free tool called Iconosquare. Just type a hashtag that you want to research into the search tool, and you’ll quickly see how many people are using it (how niche is it), who is using it (are they the right audience?) and what other related hashtags you can add to your post to increase your reach.
The number of hashtags followers are willing to tolerate from you can differ depending on your audience; however, six or seven is a good starting off point. Remember, it’s a balancing act. If you use too few, you’ll miss out on new followers, but if you go crazy with it, you’ll look a bit too eager. This post by the Grounds of Alexandria uses a great balance of location-specific and general hashtags:
5. Use apps to make your posts stand out
There are a heap of apps out there that you can use to jazz up your photos and videos. Not only do they save you from hiring a professional graphic designer, but they also increase the shareability of your posts.
Here are some of the best:
- Over – Over adds stylistic text to your photos, which is perfect for promotions and inspiring coffee quotes.
- Photo Grid – Photo Grid helps you create photo collages, and has over 300 layout templates to choose from.
- Replay – This brilliant editing app lets you cut together videos and add filters, graphics and music.
- Latergramme - Latergramme allows you to schedule posts in advance, which is incredibly handy when you’re too busy to manage Instagram during the week. It also allows you to manage multiple Instagram accounts from one platform, so you don't have to log in and out to switch between your personal account and your business account.
- Flipagram – Flipagram lets you create video slideshows to popular songs. Here’s a fun example.
The most important thing to remember about Instagram is this: authenticity is everything. While paid advertising is now becoming available on the platform, users aren’t yet accustomed to it like they are on Facebook. They prefer brands with a strong personal identity. In other words, they want to feel like they’re talking to another person when they visit your restaurant’s Instagram page. Keep that in mind when crafting your posts, and you will quickly build a loyal new following.