Great food presented well is a feast for all the senses. Instagram takes visual appeal to a higher level. Diners are whipping out smartphones to photograph their food before eating, and these photos are being sent to cyberspace for all to see. An estimated sixty-nine percent of millennials (young adults aged 19-26) routinely take pictures of their meal before consumption, according to Maru/Matchbox. Thousands of food images are captured on Instagram and these millennials spend about 5 days per week searching food images. The smart restaurant manager can take advantage of this new concept and utilize it as a powerful and free advertising tool.69% of millenials routinely take pictures of their meal before consumption. #instagram #instagrammarketing Click To Tweet
Instagram, a social platform to share photographs and/or videos, has gained huge popularity. With a base of over 300 million active users, 60 million images are shared daily to groups and individuals. A portion of these photographs are of your restaurant and your restaurant’s food, so to harness this potent marketing tool, learn to organize and link appropriate images directly to your restaurant.
How to Increase Your Following
Once a basic understanding of Instagram is gained, and your restaurant’s Instagram site is live, get ready to grow your customer base.Smart restaurant managers can take advantage of #instagram and utilize it as a powerful and free advertising tool. #restaurantmarketing Click To Tweet
Step 1: Reach out!
Reaching out is key to increasing your following – reach out to food bloggers, reach out to local businesses, and reach out to your customers. Every resource you ‘win over’ exposes your site to new followers.
Step 2: Learn how to write for Instagram
Learn to write brief and catchy tags for your photos. Instagram users respond better to shorter posts. Don’t be afraid of using emojis!
Step 3: Do your hashtag research
Do your homework on smart hashtag usage. Below are some useful restaurant-specific hashtags and research tools to get you started.
Below are some ideas for restaurant-specific hashtags that will get your Instagram posts seen now.
Hashtag Research Tools
It’s recommended to use a hashtag research tool to find hashtags people use and follow most frequently.
A photo posted with at least one #hashtag receives 12.6% more engagement than no hashtag. The impulse to use as many hashtags as possible jumps at the prospect of increasing engagement ad infinitum, but be warned – judicious use of hashtags is the single greatest thing you can do in establishing your Instagram presence. Paradoxically, you want to be a specific, but as general as possible. Hashtag analytics on Instagram will help you determine the best tags. You can always do a bit of trial and error when selecting. Take the time to research. It will be worth it.A photo posted with at least one #hashtag receives 12.6% more engagement than no hashtag. Click To Tweet
Instagram Best Practices for Restaurants
Repost customer photos.
The easiest practice is to repost customer and follower’s images. As long as you make sure to give credit to the original poster, why not share a great food photo with other potential patrons? Other customers notice that you are listening and responding to them.
Interact with your followers.
When you repost an image you found of your restaurant, thank the patron for his visit and ask about her experience. Use the moment to suggest similar dishes to try on their next visit.
Co-market with another local business.
Partner with another business to expand your exposure to attract new customers to your establishment. Both businesses receive access to each other’s audience and a new community is built.
Post different types of messages.
In addition to photos, mix up your posts with quotes, chef’s ‘thought for the day,’ memes or anything else that shows your business in a positive light. Your followers may, in turn, repost your shares to an untapped audience.
The use of videos in your Instagram feed allow one more opportunity to reach out to customers. Short clips of restaurant staff working or chef talking about the daily special engages the viewer who will hopefully share your clip. Have fun with this and let your restaurant’s personality radiate across the wireless universe.
Be judicious with your hashtags.
Be judicious with your hashtags – too many and your message gets lost; not enough and you’re missing out on potential customers.
Never underestimate the power of humor.
Making a follower smile or laugh at one of your posts leaves a positive impression of your business.
Make sure your photos are of great quality.
Filters can be applied to enhance photo quality and ensure viewing consistency on your site.
Reap the Rewards
Mastering Instagram will take initial effort; however the payoff is huge and makes the effort worthwhile. Finding new customers and bringing them into your restaurant is the most obvious advantage. Keeping in touch with recent customers reminds them of the great experience they had with you and encourages them to come again.