No excuses: If you run a restaurant, you’ve got to use Instagram.
“Igers” (as frequent Instagrammers are called) post upwards of 95 million photos and videoseach day, and many of those are cupcakes, burgers, pizza and other edibles. Nine out of 10 Instagram users are under 35, so unless you cater to the senior set, your customers are watching their Instagram feeds for dining inspiration.
The key to Instagram for restaurants is working both angles: posting your own content, but also encouraging foodie “influencers” to share their own photos and videos. Here are five tips to help restaurants make the most of Instagram.
- Create a search-friendly profile. Choose an Instagram name as close to your restaurant name as you can. If your first choice is taken (e.g. thelmasdiner), add your city (thelmasdinernyc). Your profile description needs to walk the line between appealing ad copy and search-friendly keywords. Use every character you’re allowed, and don’t forget to link to your website.
- Share your whole story. Share a combination of delectable food pics, behind-the-scenes people shots, neighborhood photos, and occasional randomness. (Staff pets are always a hit.) Aim for two well-curated posts per day. If you’ve got a staffer who’s active on Instagram (we bet you do) and whose judgment you trust, let her experiment. And don’t forget about Instagram Stories, the relatively new Snapchat competitor: It’s a great way to capture more casual moments in between the carefully selected shots.
- Let there be light. Natural light makes food look most appealing, so take your food photos near a window or outside. If you see customers pulling out their phones and they’re seated in your darkest corner, ask them if they’d prefer a spot with better light. We’ve seen a few restaurants with designated photo “sets” complete with semi-pro lighting, just for customers who want to get better shots of their food. It sounds fussy but it’s for your benefit: Better customer photos will be “liked” and shared more, boosting your much-desired word of mouth.
- Know your hashtags. Choose one “branded” hashtag and use it on every post. It can be your restaurant name alone (#thelmasdiner) or something clever that incorporates it (#eatatthelmas), but make sure it’s not something others are already using. In addition, use hashtags for your city or neighborhood, specific cuisines or dishes, and general restaurant and foodie tags, up to 30 per post. Instagram suggests the most popular hashtags, so start typing (don’t forget the # at the beginning) and see what pops up.
- Make friends. Follow local food lovers and comment on their photos. Encourage customers to post by including all your social media information on a wall sign, your menu, table signs, and the check. If you really want to amp up your social presence, offer customers a freebie for following and posting.
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5 Instagram Tips for Restaurants Sam Campbell