Seven Ways to Use Instagram for Marketing Restaurants

Food occupies an enormous place in people’s lives. Good food, favorite dining spots and exciting places for enjoying drinks and social activities rank among people’s top concerns. People like to share their experiences and see what other people are eating, how they dress and where they’re dining. The Instagram social-sharing site takes advantage of smartphone technology to encourage members to share photos and short videos on social media sites.

Restaurants can use Instagram for multiple marketing benefits because people love to take pictures when dining, celebrating or having a drink with friends. Restaurateurs can encourage customers to photograph food, décor, spectacular desserts and dining parties for immediate, user-generated advertising that’s free, convincing and spontaneous.

Top Seven Instagram Marketing Tips

Restaurants begin by creating their own Instagram accounts and posting photos of their food, cuisine, décor and staff. Creative ideas include posting photos of farms and food suppliers, celebrations, charitable events and off-site affairs.

  1. Chronicle All Aspects of the Restaurant’s Operations
    Take photos of appetizers, entrées, desserts, dining-room ambiance, staff members and behind-the-scenes operations. Show pictures of the staff serving customers, having fun or preparing for big events. Post photos and short videos regularly to draw an audience and keep them returning. Write brief captions to ask for feedback or explain the photos.
  2. Introduce New Foods or Signature Beverages
    Instagram is an ideal platform for sharing quickly because managers don’t need to write and proofread copy. Take photos of any new menu items or an amazing molecular beverage concoction from the bar to inspire regulars and newcomers to try the items.
  3. Optimize Photo Quality
    Use a regular or phone camera to take photos instead of the Instagram app to get better quality. Benefits of using alternate cameras include using features like optical zoom. After taking the photos, use the Instagram app to access the file and take advantage of its versatile photo-editing tools.
  4. Encourage Customers to Post Photos Taken at the Restaurant
    Managers can encourage customers to post photos in several ways. Best photos could be displayed at the restaurant or in online advertising. Great photos might earn diners a free meal or discount. Sponsor an Instagram contest to get customers to take lots of photos and generate business. Award prizes for photo quality, creativity, artistic composition or other criteria such as best-dressed diner or wackiest costume. Another option is to post photos on digital signs or monitors, and technology allows restaurants to post these photos in real-time. Hashtag campaigns are a successful method to encourage the sharing of photos!
  5. Share Photos with Other Sites
    Sharing photos on the company website and other social media platforms attracts more people and increases the chances that a unique moment will go viral. Instagram gives restaurants and customers many options for sharing on Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare, Twitter and emails.
  6. Promote Restaurant Involvement with Festivals and Fairs
    Be sure to take plenty of photos at special events, fairs, trade shows and festivals. If the company has a booth, take photos and post them to let customers and curious Instagram users know where to find the stall. Use photos to capture the live excitement at an event or even show on-site disasters like rain-outs or booth collapses. Off-site catered events are another opportunity to market the restaurant’s services, cakes and pastries, and signature foods.
  7. Narrate a Story with Images
    Photos can report a story with minimal captioning. Follow the progress of a remodeling project, major catering event, natural disaster or day-in-the-life of a busy restaurant. Use Instagram posts to tell people about the company’s history, charitable work or special events.

Hashtag and Geo-tagging Strategies

Using hashtags and geo-tagging to help people find the restaurant’s posts by subject and location. Creating a unique hashtag involves generating a memorable name. Choose a short word or phrase that relates to the restaurant or cuisine and is easy to spell.

  • Publicize the company hashtag on the website, blog posts, advertising, stationery and social media pages.
  • Send hashtag information to people in the restaurant’s loyalty program and those on email and newsletter lists.
  • Use the unique hashtag on all Instagram posts—for example, #UniqueHashtag.
  • Geo-tagging lets people know where users are located.
  • Restaurateurs can click on geo-tags to connect with Instagram users in their areas.

Instagram offers some astonishingly simple ways to market restaurants, cuisine and events. People will re-post photos and videos that they like, so restaurant posts enjoy a larger marketing reach. Encouraging Instagram posts from customers keeps them loyal, engaged and actively promoting the restaurant.

Instagram Stories & Instagram Live

Utilize the feature of Stories (that are common along most social media platforms) to stay current. Posting a story allows you to have a photo, video, or gif present at the top of users’ feeds for 24. You can tag, geo-tag, and write on these stories, making them relevant and useful for cross promotion. You will also be able to see how many, and who, saw your story.

Instagram Live is a great way to showcase a new dish, drink, or space. Followers will be alerted that you’ve started a Live video at any point in their feed, calling attention that your account is active and showing something exciting off! You will be able to see who is viewing your Live video, and engage with fans right then and there.