Let’s face it. People love taking photos of their amazing wining and dining experiences. While hovering over their food with a smartphone, or taking endless selfies might be annoying to the wait staff and to other diners, it’s not a trend that’s going away anytime soon. So why not use it to your advantage?
Photos of food and social activities rank in the top 10 most popular Instagram genres, right alongside inspirational quotes, people, animals and places. User-generated photos resonate with Instagrammers everywhere, so you why not use your customers’ enthusiasm to help promote your business with free, spontaneous and credible advertising.
First, create an Instagram account so you can post photos of your food, décor and staff. Get creative and include special events, amazing one-off creations or celebrations!
Then # (hashtag) the heck out of your account! Hashtags and geo-tagging help people find your posts by subject and location. It’s important to create a unique, memorable hashtag. We suggest choosing a short word or phrase that relates to your establishment or cuisine. Hint: make sure it’s easy to spell!
Publicise your hashtag on your website, blog posts, advertising and social media pages. Add it to the emails you send out to customers, and most importantly, use it on EVERY post you make. #myfantasticrestaurant
Our 7 top tips!
- Go crazy! Take photos of your appetisers, entrées, mains, and desserts. Don’t forget the cocktails and glasses of bubbly. Then go snap-happy on your décor and behind-the-scenes operations. Show pictures of staff serving your customers, having fun or preparing for big events. Regularly add photos or even short videos to keep people interested and involved. Write brief captions to ask for feedback (would you try this cocktail?) or explain the photos. It’s true, Instagram is less about words, and more about photos, but it’s still about interacting, and people love giving their opinions.
- You saw it here first! Why not make a song and dance about those new dishes and drinks? Instagram is the ideal platform to share your information quickly. And a picture is definitely worth a thousand words!
- It’s all about the image. Instead of using the Instagram app to take photos, add them directly from a regular or smartphone camera. The quality will be much better, and you’ll have more functions – like digital zoom – at your fingertips. After taking the photos, use the Instagram app to access the file and utilise its great photo-editing tools. Hint: Photos may need to be cropped to fit the Instagram format. Don’t despair! If your photo editor doesn’t do it for you, there are plenty of free apps that do!
- Make your customers your advocates. Encourage your customers to post their food photos and hashtag you! The best photos could be displayed at the restaurant, in online advertising or showcased on other social platforms. Run competitions for the most stunning food photo of the month and offer a free meal or discount as the prize. Hashtag campaigns are also a successful way to encourage people to share photos!
- Share, share and share! Share photos on your website and other social media platforms to attract a wider audience. Who knows when your photo of a unique moment might go viral? Instagram also provides easy options to share content instantly on Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare, Twitter and email. So your content can be shared everywhere, fast!
- Get involved and shout about it. If you’re at a special event, fair, trade show, festival or catering an event – make a noise about it! If you have a booth or a stand, take photos and post them, so both your current customers and the curious can find you. Capture the live events, even if they don’t turn out perfectly – like an unexpected weather event, or a booth that’s collapsed! The more people see the “behind the scenes” activities and the “oops!” moments, the more they will become emotionally involved in what you do.
- Tell stories. Capture real life as it happens through your images, they don’t need to be caption heavy. Track the progress of a renovation project, a major catering event, or even the day-to-day life of a busy restaurant.
Other handy-to-know Instagram stuff
Geo-tagging: This lets you know where your users are located, so you can click on geo-tags to connect with Instagram users in your areas. It’s a great way to promote a special offer!
Instagram Stories: Like most social media platforms, Instagram has ‘Stories’ features, which will keep your content current. Posting a story allows you to have a photo, video, or gif stay at the top of your followers’ feeds for 24 hours. You can tag, geo-tag, and write on these stories to cross-promote, and you’ll also be able to see exactly how many people saw your story, and who they were.
Instagram Live: This is a great way to showcase a new dish, drink, or location! Your followers will be alerted that you’ve started a Live video at any point in their feed, so they know something exciting is happening! You can see who’s viewing your Live video, and engage with them in real time.
Instagram is a real winner in the social media stakes. And the best thing is that you probably have default Instagram experts on your staff already who would love to help out! So #gettoit!