Regardless of whether you love or hate social media, the truth is that it can be an extremely useful tool when it comes to marketing your restaurant. Instagram in particular is a great choice because it’s still popular with lots of different types of users and the platform’s visual nature is perfectly suited to promoting food. Not to mention, it’s free to use!
Not sure where you should begin? Here are some top tips for using Instagram to effectively market your restaurant. They should be helpful to you no matter where your restaurant is located or what kind of cuisine you specialize in.
While there’s no set rule about exactly how often you should upload images to Instagram, you’re likely to find it easier to gain a following if you post regularly. Between three and seven times a week is a good target to aim for to ensure that you get good exposure – and no more than once a day or people will feel like you’re spamming them. Remember that if posting in real time is inconvenient, you can schedule your posts ahead of time to make the task easier. It’s also worth noting that you should use the Stories feature as well as posting to the main feed. Comment on other people’s content too so that you’re joining in an online conversation, not just marketing.
Showcase your restaurant’s unique personality
The more informal nature of social media means that it’s a great opportunity to give people a glimpse behind the scenes at your restaurant. Lean into your brand’s unique quirks, whether you want to come across as contemporary, family-friendly, or romantic. You should also make an effort to shine a spotlight on individual chefs and front-of-house staff to ensure that you come across as friendly, genuine and approachable.
Take high-quality photographs
Instagram’s focus on imagery means that the quality of your photos makes all the difference to how successful you’ll be on the platform. Food photography can be tough, so read some online tutorials to ensure you get it right. As well as mouth-watering pictures of your dishes, you can also post shots of your staff in fashionable chef apparel, bundles of fresh ingredients you’ve just received from your suppliers, and interior shots of the restaurant floor to show diners where they’ll be eating. Another tactic is to choose a specific aesthetic – for example a color scheme or style of photography – to tie your whole image grid together in a professional manner.
The main goals for being on Instagram are to gain followers and actively engage with them. One way in which you can do this is by running competitions. Ideally you want to make entering as simple as possible for people, for instance by asking them to comment on and tag a friend in one of your photos or use a dedicated hashtag on an image of their own. You’ll also need to have a clear and transparent method for choosing a winner, and of course an appealing prize. Free drinks or appetizers are always a good option, or alternatively, you could give away a branded tote bag or water bottle that will then serve as further advertising when the winner uses it!
Prioritize genuine engagement over follower numbers
Too many businesses get caught up in the number of followers they have on Instagram, when that’s not actually the most important factor to focus on. It’s engagement that’s going to boost customer numbers. The goal is to create a community of followers who are genuine fans of your restaurant, and regularly comment on your images or share them with their friends. This will not only be more likely to convert into diners coming through the door, but it also prompts Instagram’s algorithm to show your posts to more people – thus growing your influence even more.
Provide people with value
It’s a mistake to think about Instagram purely in terms of making more money or getting more diners to visit your restaurant. Instead, think about how you can use it to bring value to the people who see your posts. For example, could you share some top tips on how to bake fluffy bread, make the perfect pasta sauce, or nail a new technique for icing a cake? This sort of content is what will keep people returning to your page and boost your reputation as a titan of the culinary world.
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