Complete Guide on Using Instagram for Restaurants

Is your restaurant on social media? Odds are, it is. But there are some steps you can take to make your restaurant Instagram page work even better for you! If you do it right, Instagram can help you attract new loyal customers and make you stay top of mind. 

If you are not quite sure about it, don’t worry! We’ve prepared a handy guide to help you make the most of your Instagram presence.

Maybe you’re wondering why Instagram, and not any of the other social media out there. This visual social media has extra benefits for businesses in the food industry, and can bring an immense return for the time invested in perfecting your strategy. 

Not only are the numbers of users scrolling through this social media staggering (1 billion people every month!), but people use it to discover restaurants nearby, thanks to geolocation, hashtags and referrals.

Besides, Instagram is an ideal platform to harness the power of word-of-mouth. As your social media strategy attracts more customers, they will in turn share their pictures and videos in your restaurant, effectively advertising your business to their entire network!

In order to successfully attract clients and maintain buzz around your restaurant, let’s take a look at the steps you should take.

1. Your Profile

First and foremost, take a look at your business’ profile. Do you have a descriptive username, picture and bio?

Profile elements on instagram for restaurants
Important elements of your profile

Username

Your username should be the name of your business. Since there are millions of Instagram accounts in the world, it might be the case that the name is already taken. Add restaurant to the end – or, if not available, to the beginning of the name. 

Profile Picture

You have two options here: using your logo or showcasing a delicious image of your speciality dish

Most businesses opt for the first. But that can lead to an undifferentiated account, not standing out from the clutter.

By using a distinctive and beautifully-shot picture of some of your best dishes, you speak directly to your customer’s desires – and you’ll have better odds of making them stop scrolling. 

Bio

The description that shows directly below your follower count is basically your greeting card. Here you have the chance to speak directly to your customer. Showcase your unique voice and make an impression.

Avoid corporate and dull descriptions. Use adjectives that paint a picture of what your menu and establishment is like. For example:

  • Delicious (cupcakes, desserts, burgers…)
  • Colorful (pies, bowls, drinks…)
  • Quick (service, delivery…)
  • Friendly (service)
  • Beautiful (baked goods, garden…)
  • Free (parking, drink…)
  • The best (pizza, beer, service, view…) in town

Add a Call to action in your bio as well. Tell your visitors what to do and why, in a short and direct sentence. Some of the things you could say are:

  • Follow for special deals
  • Follow to join our community
  • Tag us with #yourhshtag for a chance to win goodies
  • Use #yourhashtag to be featured

2. Best Practices

Here is where the bulk of the work – and benefits – is at. By creating a clear strategy on how you will use Instagram for restaurant marketing, you can keep tabs of your progress and make the most of this social media for your business.

Before posting, don’t forget to set your account to Business account! It probably already is, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check.  

Consistency

Consistency is key.

Decide on a posting frequency and stick with it for a while. Once per day is a good place to start. 

If you have a lot of content, consider posting 2x per day. This is specially indicated if you post user-generated content (which we will talk about later.)

Post time

The best time to post is when your audience is online. The only way to know that is with time. After you have your account up for some weeks, you can go to the “Insights” tab of your account and then navigate to the Audience section. Scrolling all the way to the bottom, you can see the hours and days when your followers are on Instagram.

If you are just starting, you can use this generic timetable by ExpertVoice:

  • Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Monday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 5:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 5:00 a.m.,11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • Thursday: 5:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
  • Friday: 5:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 11:00 a.m.

Hashtags

Why should you care about hashtags? Put simply, they help people discover your post. Your followers might see your amazing photos in their timeline, but all of the potential customers out there still need to come across your account. 

As a plus, posts with at least one hashtag have higher engagement: approximately 12.6% more than those without.

You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. Use a combination of popular and niche hashtags to maximize your chances of being discovered.

Popular hashtags on Instagram for restaurants and food establishments include:

  • #delicious
  • #foodie
  • #foodporn
  • #restaurant
  • #instafood

But we advise always adding your location to those hashtags, as in #YourCityfoodporn

Try to think as a potential customer. If you are looking for restaurants or cafés near you, what keywords would you use? 

You can either post your hashtags in the caption itself, or in the first comment. Putting them in the first comment looks tidier and generally more pleasant, but it is at your discretion. 

Another important tip: create a custom and original hashtag. It can be the name of your establishment, a catchy play on words or the name of your star dish. Make it unique!

Put this hashtag in your bio and in your posts. Encourage followers and clients to use the hashtag when posting photos taken in your business or of your products.

Geotag

Instagram allows you to tag the location of the image. You can therefore tag your own business’ location, the neighborhood or the city. Once again, this is important to help more people discover your business. 

You can add your business contact info on Instagram, editing your profile. Once you do that, other people can also geotag their images, referring to your business. This is great news! Now, when clients post a mouthwatering photo and geotag your establishment, their followers can instantly find out where your business is located.

Schedule

Use tools like Later, Hootsuite or SproutSocial to schedule your posts and keep your Instagram strategy always on time. This way, you can organize and plan in advance, set the caption and choose the best hour for posts. 

But remember! Scheduling doesn’t mean you can completely automate your posts in one day and forget about your Instagram account for the rest of the week. It’s a good practice to check for comments and engage with followers and potential customers on a daily basis!

3. Your Content

There are a few different types of content that work very well on Instagram for restaurant and other food establishments.

  1. Amazing pictures of your food
  2. Behind the scenes 
  3. Meet the team
  4. Announcements (events, promotions, giveaways)
  5. User-generated content

Food pictures

It should come as no surprise that you should post lots of mouth watering photos of your food and beverage offerings. Set your business apart by showing your unique creations.

If your establishment is well known for its decor, or particularly photo-worthy space, make use of that! Capture both the food and the interior area, inviting people to visit your business and take similar pictures. 

Just like great food photos make all the difference, poor quality images can also have an impact. Your offerings should look appealing, so make sure to prioritize good lighting and good composition. Whenever possible, natural lighting is best. Flat lays are always a good shot idea as well.

Captions for these photos don’t need to be very detailed or long, since the photo should do all the talking! Keep it simple and experiment with different emojis as well. 

Check out our Food & Beverage on-demand photo packages to create original photography for your business.

Behind the scenes

Show your customers a different side of your business! Behind the scenes photos and videos are a great way of engaging your audience. Why?

Firstly, it is the type of content people can only have access to by following you. While food pictures can be shared by any customer that visits your establishment, the only way of getting a glimpse behind the scenes is by following your account. This creates a tighter bond between you and your followers, who are “in the know”. 

Secondly, it is a great way of making the statement that you have nothing to hide. Authenticity and transparency are major factors in creating a loyal client base. Behind the scenes shots make it clear that your customers can peek behind the curtain at any time. 

Good behind the scenes shots include photos of dishes being prepared, stories showing the planning process or how you decorate the space. 

Meet the team

Similarly to the Behind the scenes shots, team photos and videos are amazing tools to humanize your business – and is a good idea to add them to your Instagram for restaurants strategy. It strengthens the bond between your audience and your establishment, showing that your business is also about people. 

Photos that show your team in action are powerful. Candid and spontaneous photos are the best here. You can also create videos, in which team members can introduce themselves or share how a work day is like.

Announcements

A powerful type of post to drive engagement through the roof. Announcements – like events, giveaways, collaborations and promotions – are exciting ways to keep things fresh and boost word of mouth. 

People love the opportunity of saving some money or gaining something for free. With giveaways, you give people a shot at that. If you are considering hosting a giveaway, consider what would be an exciting prize for your audience and ask for people to tag friends in order to enter the competition. This way, your followers will attract more potential clients to your account.

Announcing promotions follows the same logic. If you are having a special discount for your establishment’s anniversary, for example, let people know. Odds are, your followers will tag friends and relatives that could be interested in the discount, attracting more and more potential clients.

Another thing people love: feeling exclusive. You can achieve that by announcing events only in your Instagram account or offering an exclusive deal for people that follow you.

User-generated Content

Finally, let’s talk about user-generated content (UGC) and why you should make the most of it. 

Simply put, UGC refers to all the images and videos your customers post, featuring your establishment or your products. 

In your profile, check the tagged tab to see posts that might be usable. Next, contact the users who tagged you through direct message. This is extremely important, as you have to ask permission to repost their image. We suggest you send a simple, yet nice and polite message saying you love their picture and would like to repost it in your page. Make it clear you will give them credit for the photo by tagging them in the image and/or mentioning them in the caption. If they give you permission, great! You can use apps like Reposter for Instagram to repost.

Another place you can find UGC is through the geolocation tag. Remember we talked about creating your business’ geotag? You might find extra posts and food photos this way!

4. Maintaining engagement

You already have everything set up, amazing content being posted consistently and are being tagged by customers. That’s awesome! The next step is showing you are engaged with your audience in a consistent way.

How?

There are a few critical ways to do so:

  1. Reply and comment
  2. Stories and Highlights
  3. Instagram Live
  4. Influencers, partnerships and collaborations

Reply and comment

Instagram’s algorithms take into consideration how engaging your content is, i.e. how many comments and like your posts have. By quickly replying to comments in your page, not only you increase the comments count, but you also show Instagram your content is generating buzz. 

Secondly, by replying to comments, you are directly interacting with potential customers, showing your followers and potential followers that you care about them. 

It’s also a good idea to comment, like and interact with other accounts. This helps more people discover your account – for example, by checking you out after seeing an interesting comment you made. Engaging with your audience is always rewarding!

Stories and Highlights

Stories and highlights on Instagram for restaurants

Stories are a huge success factor on any Instagram for restaurants strategy. 

If you’re unfamiliar with them, stories are a kind of temporary post, visible during 24 hours in your account. They are an amazing tool for interacting with your audience, as you can use them for asking questions, creating polls, playing games, sharing behind the scenes clips and more! 

We suggest posting stories every day, since they disappear after that time frame. This way, followers will always be interested in checking out your new stories. 

How can you make the most of your stories? 

  • You can repost stories from other users, as long as they tag your account when posting it. Encourage customers and staff to mention you in their stories, so you can repost it; 
  • Let followers know you have a new post in your feed;
  • Thinking about creating a special dish for a holiday? Ask customers to vote in what option they prefer;
  • Get the staff together to record a “Thank you” video directed to your clients.

Story Highlights are stories that become a permanent part of your profile. Instead of disappearing in 24 hours, they are always accessible, below your contact information and above your feed. 

Highlights are great ways of providing quick information to your audience. You can use it to post your opening hours, show how your establishment looks like, photos of your most popular dishes… the sky is the limit! 

When publishing highlights, you can group the stories. That means you can have one highlight for main dishes, one highlight for desserts and one highlight for cocktails, for example. Each highlight has a cover image. You can choose any of the stories within that highlight to be the cover image. You can also create cover images for your highlight using free tools like Canva. This way, your highlights look consistent, and you can brand it with your restaurant’s colors and style. 

Instagram Live

Live streams are all the rage across different social media and particularly on Instagram. 

They are one of the best ways to create strong bonds with your audience, as they allow followers to interact with you in the moment, instantaneously. 

What kinds of live streams you should consider for your food and beverage business? There are two main possibilities:

Events

Are you having an interesting event, like opening a new location for your business or offering a new, long-awaited special dish? Make your customers feel like they are right there with you, even if they couldn’t attend.

Q&A’s 

Set up a live stream to answer all the questions your audience has. It’s a good opportunity to tell the story behind your business, your dreams for the future of the establishment and make your clients feel heard. It’s definitely a great way to build loyalty amongst your follower base.

Influencer, partnerships and collaborations

When it comes to Instagram, we can’t forget to talk about influencers. In fact, they are an essential part of any strategy on Instagram for restaurants and other food businesses.

As the word itself suggests, influencers are valuable because of the reach and impact they have on people, effectively influencing behavior. Recommendations by influencers have power, simply put. 

There are all kinds of influencers and food bloggers out there, ranging from millions of followers to just-starting aspiring accounts. And how can you work together to get benefits for your business as well as for the influencer?

  1. Contact: first, send direct messages or emails to local food influencers. Aim for those accounts with up to 50,000 followers, as they are likely to be open to affordable partnerships.
  2. Negotiate: find common ground. What will be the conditions of your partnership? Will you offer a free dinner for two in exchange of their post? Will you also pay a commission? How many posts? Will there be stories as well? These are all important matters to discuss.
  3. Share their posts: after is all said and done and the posts come to life, don’t forget to repost and create stories tagging the influencer. Also, comment in their original post and answer questions their followers might have. 

Partnerships with influencers can take the form of ad-style posts of competitions and giveaways. Just like we mentioned before, giveaways are amazing ways of creating more engagement. By harnessing the reach of influencers, youc an supercharge your competitions. 

You can also partner with other local establishments, offering combo specials that are announced exclusively through Instagram for example. 

Conclusion

We covered a lot in this article. From setting up a magnetic Instagram account for your food business to partnerships with influencers, we hope you got the information you needed. 

Remember that Instagram is first and foremost a visual platform. Curate great images that will draw your audience in. Source captivating user-generated content. Create custom videos and photos that capture the essence of your business.

Klaud9 can help you with that last point! We have the perfect on-demand photoshoot package for your business. The best part? We make it affordable and quick, so you don’t need to waste time or resources to create mouthwatering visual content for your restaurant.

In just 24 hours, we connect you to the ideal food photographer, wherever in the world you are. Ready to take your Instagram for restaurants marketing strategy to the next level?

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