Instagram – A Perfect Tool For Restaurant Marketing

A picture is worth 1000 words and what better tool to express this than Instagram.

Food photography has gone up to another level – all thanks to Instagram. This in itself shows the power of a good food shot and also the power of Instagram! After beating Facebook and Twitter in terms of organic reach (as per statistics its got 4-20% organic reach compares to a mere 1% of Facebook) Instagram has also taken over Twitter on the basis of active users last year! An article in Techcrunch shows that out of the 300 million people on Instagram, more than 60% are under the age of 35, which makes it an attractive platform for many apparel, entertainment, and media brands focused on the 18 to 34-year-old age bracket.
A report from Business Insider claims – “We find that Instagram is largely made up of urban, youthful demographics, with a significant skew towards women. ”
This gives us great insight on the demographics of its users and also shows how relevant it is for todays lifestyle and food brands to engage on this platform. Also, it makes it very clear for restauranteurs today to adapt to this platform and make the most of it. Whether it is a new restaurant launch or a change in the menu or it might even be a change in the decor of the place – you can actually take upto Instagram to showcase it in the best way to relevant people!

So, here are the 5 best ways to use Instagram to market your restaurant –
1. Content Mix
Like all other social media channels, the content you post on your account is what makes or breaks your brand on Instagram. Have a clearly defined content mix according to the goal you have set. Like videos tend to generate more comments, the still pictures get you 36% more likes. The best way is to mix all sorts of content – interesting food videos, chef talks, awesome food & interior shots, food quotes etc. and see them giving you results!

I propose the following content mix for a restaurant – of course you can play around with it!
a) Monday: Item of the day with hash tags #MondayMotivation #MondayBlues #Foodie #FoodPorn #IloveFood #YourCuisine #ItemName #Fresh #NaturalIngredients #Healthy (if you are in that category) #FoodToShare #EatingWithFriends. From a hash tag perspective the more hashtags you have in your post the better the engagement would be
b) Tuesday: Respond to comments, re-share pics of your restaurant or some trending topic (locally) and comment on your followers
c) Wednesday: Take a short video of your staff or back end operations. This is very important as your customers can get a peek of your kitchen operations or an important staff meeting where you are talking about customer service (hyper lapse videos, boomerang, slo-mo – so many options!)
d) Thursday: Throw back Thursday – #TBT is a major feature in the Instagram world. Contextualise this with regard to your restaurant. Find a picture of your first customer, how your restaurant looked when it was started, chef’s old picture etc.
e) Friday: Fun Friday – show your team in a funny or goofy way, re-share other funny pics, or if possible show how your food would look like in case you change ingredients etc.
f) Saturday: Offer a coupon or something to your followers. This would help a restaurant from an engagement perspective (remember the Feed Algorithm change)
g) Sunday: relax
2. Hashtags #
So, yes there are a lot of people who would discover your account through this. But there is a fine line between spamming your posts with #’s and having the appropriate # for your picture. Make sure you use trending but related hashtags only and do not go overboard by using unnecessary #’s. Some hashtags which are relevant and widely used for food and restaurant business are #food, #foodie, #yum, #yummy, #drool, #foodporn etc. There are a lot of free apps and websites which would give you sets of relevant hashtags which are also trending. It becomes as simple as copy pasting it to your post!
P.s. – They have a limit of 30 hashtags per post.
3. Contests
This is the best way to engage users, interact with them and also gain users. A good contest can take you places and give you results which reach organically. Just plan the contest in a way that it maximises your visibility while not being over the top. Photo and video contests are obviously a trend and give better results on Instagram than any other platform! Just beware that you don’t end up running them too often because you don’t want only contest players to be following you.
4. Interact
Interact, Interact, Interact! Just keep your audience engaged because thats what converts people to customers. Make sure you reply to every comment, interact with influencers, write comments on their pictures, invite them by offering a very small discount – just keep the conversation going! During the week you have to constantly look for any comments that your customers post or share about your restaurant. Having an active engagement is very crucial so that your pictures are always on top of your customer’s feed.
5. Ads
So with every social media tool comes the money game. Though as mentioned above the organic reach on Instagram is the highest, it’s still speculated that that reach might go a little down due to the Instagram ads. It’s better to stay a step ahead and start with advertising while the costs are low. Use an amazing food shot or a very interesting video and see your ads doing wonders!
To get inspired you can take a look at these 3 brands in this field which are doing well on Instagram
1. Ben & Jerry’s
2. Starbucks
3. Taco Bell

Of course it goes without saying – keep everything interesting, engaging and related to your restaurant and food, but you also keep in mind that you have to be very regular with posts. The brand account should be alive and always in action. Also, the plus point is, the posts that you use on Instagram can be used on Facebook as well – and because they are so attractive they tend to do well.

Now, the only problem that comes into place is that with so many social media tools and different to-do’ s and methodologies to be used for each of them, it’s very hard for any brand to maintain a strong presence on all channels. I would suggest either you hire professionals to do it or if not – don’t dive into all mediums. Be present on 1 or 2 (Facebook & Instagram or Instagram & Twitter) – the ones you are comfortable with and make your presence felt by good techniques there.
You can try and customise these for other businesses as well. Just remember everything takes time – be patient and stay at it.
If there are any other things I am missing out on or any other learnings, please do share with me!
P.S. – Follow me on Instagram 😀 @latikapathela

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