In an era where a customer is more likely to find you by the swipe of a thumb than a step of their foot, it’s never been more important for a restaurant to have a positive and prominent Instagram presence.
Not to be posted upon recklessly, Instagram for any business requires strategy and a certain aesthetic. First and foremost, in our digital age, you need to appeal to the eyes before the stomach to motivate guests to order from you via an online takeout app or to get them through your front doors. Here are some best practices for utilizing Instagram to promote your foodservice operation and get thumbs tapping through your menu offerings.
Once your menus and special events are planned out for the month, streamline your social media strategy with a monthly content calendar, which outlines what information you want to share and promote, and on which days, to support your business priorities.
There are many free digital tools to help plan and schedule your monthly social media content, like Hootsuite, which is useful in organizing your messaging and creative assets. It’s super easy to use and eliminates the extra step of manual planning.
You know that old phrase of eating with the eyes first? With diners searching online for their next meal experience before even setting foot outside their door, you want to ensure you’re putting your best posts forward; but they don’t just have to be all food.
Create an exciting mix that can include, but not be limited to, weekly promotions, food holidays, new brand additions to your beverage menus, community postings (sports games nights, charity support), and weekend offering alerts.
You could also repost content diners have created and posted about your restaurant. Just always include photo credit in your caption.
To avoid any diner confusion, your business’ Instagram posts should follow your restaurant’s operating days and hours. Not open Sundays? Don’t post on Sundays. Do specials start on Mondays? Announce them on Mondays.
As for the times, go into your Instagram account, select Insights and tap “Total Followers” under “Your Audience.” Scroll to the bottom and you will see the most active times your community is on Instagram, aka the best times to engage them. Use this as a guide, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Any insights can fluctuate from day to day and week to week.
A major influence in Instagram discoverability, your posts will require relative hashtags. This however does not mean just hashtagging any possible word related to your restaurant. #You #Do #Not #Do #Them #Like #This, #Food #Family.
Start with hashtagging your restaurant name (#YourNameHere), a location-based tag (#City, #CityRestaurant) plus other existing hashtags that you see are popular and in use in your area. The search feature is a great way to gauge this. Also, if there are any foodies or dining influencers in your area, review their hashtagging strategy as well and see which ones align best with your content.
Do not use more than 20 per post, the algorithm favours actively engaged posts in niche hashtags over unengaged “lost” posts spread over too many.
Not to be just a billboard for your brand, the best way to be engaged on a social network is to also engage; be social!
Chefs, fellow restaurateurs, public figures, local businesses; these are all accounts you could be following and engaging to create rapport before they’ve even sat at your table.
Be sure to keep an eye out for any comments or direct messages (aka DMs) and respond to every single one. Speak in a brand voice, keep it clean, but also have fun with it when you can. Fit your tone to the vibe you’d want diners to experience if they were already at your door.