Does your restaurant have its own active profile on Instagram? I certainly hope it does. Without it, you could be losing hundreds of potential customers every year.
In this day and age, all restaurants are present on this vital social network. You can use this avenue to promote yourself.
Catering companies can benefit greatly with Instagram, and that goes beyond attractive photos (though this is a central aspect of your promotion.) Customers following your brand want to become engaged with interactive and inspiring content, compelling storytelling, and fresh takes.
I have put together a short guide to discuss what you should do to advertise your restaurant with Instagram. This includes how to create a unique profile modeled in part from successful restaurant profiles already in circulation.
Ready to begin? Great!
Let’s get started.
Brief Overview of Instagram for Restaurants
Instagram is an excellent marketing tool for your restaurant specifically because so many individuals are already sharing and showing food every single day.
Before deciding on some place to eat, many look to various social media platforms to discover places based on their photos, and pseudo reviews posted by their own friends and family.
This Instagram community can actually become a powerful marketing and publicity tool for your business. When they are publishing their own content about your restaurant, they are promoting the positive aspects. In the same way, if there is something negative to share, this is the forum to do that as well – so make sure you are stepping up your game.
You might choose at this point to not risk being online at all, since you are subjected to indiscriminate judgment by anyone and everyone.
It is important to note that whether you are online or not, your customers with accounts still have the ability to share their experiences.
When you consider this inevitability, wouldn’t you rather be present to shape the narratives about yourself, what your restaurant represents, the environment, staff, and atmosphere? You can take the chance to welcome new customers with engaging content.
Profile Information (Name, Image, Bio) for Your Restaurant
As a business owner, you must consider who you are and how to introduce yourself to followers.
Your username must be the name of your business. As is often the case, this name is usually taken by another user. You can adopt the strategy of adding the term ‘restaurant’ after the name. You should avoid adding any special characters that can make your username seem disingenuous.
Another piece of advice is to not add the name of a city to this username, even if you have restaurants in more than one location. It is better to focus your energies on building a perfect profile, rather than creating content for 10 individual restaurants.
When choosing a profile picture, I recommend using your restaurants logo. This is a good branding exercise to get into.
Now let’s take a look at your bio. This is the description of your restaurant on your Instagram account. This small blurb about who you are and what you represent adds value to your restaurant for the customer.
New York’s Eleven Madison Park Restaurant (among the most famous in the world) uses a clear and straightforward description:
‘New York restaurant from Chef Daniel Humm (@danielhumm) #makeitnice makeitnice.givesmart.com’
Using hashtags, as you can see in the example above, leads to greater visibility. Anyone searching tags like these could make your profile appear among the first search results.
The restaurant has a website so you can add it to this section too. That way, there is a direct link to your webpage. You can also link individual pages like the menu, reviews, or a booking area to simplify these aspects for your customer.
Once you’ve created the best possible text for your bio, you must turn this account into a business if you have not done so already. The change is useful to gain access to numbers and statistics that measure the performance and popularity of your profile.
Fortunately, switching is free and easy. Sign into your profile from the Instagram mobile application and open your account settings section. You will find an option labeled ‘Switch to Business Profile’.
Making this change allows you to see various statistics about your profile. You can see the number of website visits that have come through Instagram over a set period of time.
Using Instagram for Catering: Three Key Rules
There are many questions that come with the use of an Instagram account for your business. What should you post? When should you interact with your followers? How do you publish?
Rule #1: Keep Delivery Consistent
There are estimates to suggest that adding three unique content pieces per week can get more engagement on Instagram. Make sure that you are also sharing this content on your other social networks, including Facebook and Twitter.
You can inform your audience across different platforms using the same quality content in this way. This approach is especially important for any content and stories you share through Facebook.
Post content should very enough for fitting in too formatting requirements for each of the social networks that you use. If you do not know how to do this, you can post the same content from Instagram to other platforms if you look at the text section before posting. You will see icons for Facebook and Twitter beneath the add location sections to encourage you to share this content on your other linked platforms.
Rule #2: Use Hashtags Strategically
I cannot stress more that you need to use hashtags that make sense, not just for the sake of using them. There is nothing worse than posting a video or photo on Instagram and copy-pasting hashtags just because they are treads. The primary purpose of hashtags is to make your post visible and attract new followers. As such, they must be used appropriately.
Currently, Instagram allows users to ensure up to 30 hashtags per post. However, it is recommended that you only use 11 hashtags in the following order: five small hashtags, four medium hashtags, and two big hashtags.
Small hashtags are those that have a volume of between 0-99,000 posts. On the other hand, medium-sized hashtags generate a volume of between 1 and 5 million posts, while big hashtags are those that generate more than 5 million posts.
I’ll explain why.
The purpose of using hashtags is to end up in the Top section and show your content to as many people as possible.
What is the Top section?
If you are keen, you must have noticed that when you search for any hashtags, Instagram will display the best videos and audios that stand out from the rest. These contents are known as “Top posts”. The rest of the posts using that hashtag are usually placed on the “Recent” section. When your post appears on the top section, it increases the chances of it getting more likes, comments, followers, and reposting increases drastically, thus boosting engagement. When you use the 11 hashtag strategy, you will significantly boost your post’s chances of appearing on the top section and staying there longer, thus increasing its visibility.
How to find these magic 11 hashtags
Below are tips on how to find 11 the most suitable hashtags for your posts.
1. Find at least three of four Instagram profiles of the niche you are interested in and perform well at the moment. Only focus on hashtags with high levels of engagements.
2. To make the process easy, take advantage of the Instagram search function by entering different keywords related to your niche.
3. Follow accounts that show on top the search query that meets all the requirements of point one. The account should have a high level of engagements and similar to your page. After each “follow” you will see accounts suggested by Instagram that are similar to those you have just followed. Please check those pages too and choose with the most appealing profiles. However, you need to be cautious and only select pages with profiles with a great engagement level and with a similar style as your page.
4. Select a list of followed pages that inspire you and are similar to your page. Take a close look at the hashtags that they are using.
5. Copy-paste their hashtag list on your mobile phone’s notes
6. Create a custom list of hashtags that suits your page
So how do you end up in the top section of a hashtag?
Your post will appear on the top section of a hashtag if it gets many likes within the shortest time possible after posting.
Rule #3: Choosing the Right Time to Post on Instagram
You should model your posting behavior after the hours when Increased use is expected on Instagram. A general rule is that office hours are not exempt. It is best to post during a lunch break, I.E. 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, or after work between the hours of 5 and 9PM.
It would seem that statistics show Wednesday is among the best days to post content, and Sunday is the slowest. You should avoid posting on Sundays. Use specific software to plan out ideal times to publish your new content as it is developed.
Promoting Your Restaurant on Instagram: The Best Photos
Viral content posted to the Internet often inspires specific emotions like awe, wonder, or excitement.
With Instagram, your catering photographs and videos show the delicious foods and service you provide. This activates a sense of wonder with users. Team photos with a storytelling background, activate the sense of awe. Promotions and events can often trigger users to become excited about the service.
A good way to see what works and what doesn’t is to look at your competition.
With Instagram, images are the master content to post. Taking a photo with the right light can make all the difference. Creating environments using specific color palettes that line up with the image of your restaurant can subconsciously promote your brand.
These filters and environmental factors can get chosen based on aspects such as the dominant color of the walls in your dining area, or the color of the tablecloths that you use.
With Instagram, you are working to create a consistent feed that appeals to users on multiple levels. Inconsistencies in your pictures and images make your profile look messy and unattractive to followers who might have been interested in what you had to offer.
With the example of @ElevenMadisonPark, their profile often shows content imbued with white, black, and gold. These are colors that best represent the brand.
Taking the Right Photos for Your Restaurant’s Instagram Profile
Let me hit you with some quick tips that can help you to take better pictures of the dishes that you intend to post on Instagram.
Do not use the app to directly take pictures of the content you intend to post. Utilize your phone or a camera and then upload it to the application.
The right spacing can make all the difference. Make sure that your subject for the picture is not too far out of view for the users that might see it.
Make sure that your photos are not crooked. You don’t want your dish to be tilted! To avoid this, you can use a built-in grid available on the app to modify images before posting.
Take a few moments to compose creative wording to describe the image or provide details for the photo.
You should always take multiple photos from different angles, then look over them all to determine which one looks the best before posting.
If you are not a food photographer, you should avoid using filters on Instagram. Altering any of the color schemes or appearances of your dish could make them less palatable to potential customers.
Details will tell about the dish.
Photos should be taken at a 45-degree angle. If a plate has little volume in terms of height, photographing it from above can help. If there is too much volume, photographing it from the front can help. For things like pizza, a 45-degree angle or picking it up from the top can make a more appealing look for your photographs.
Avoid using artificial light when possible, natural light enhances the look of dishes and creates the shot.
Filling the entire frame of voids an appearance of a small plate. The dish must occupy the majority of any photo that you take.
You should always look to choose the dishes on your menu that provide both depth and color.
You should show how this dish is meant to be enjoyed, such as taking the photo with it in hands, on a counter in the kitchen, or placed with a napkin and cutlery.
Trying to create a theme so that all of your photos have a similar style.
I wrote an article all about taking good pictures on the fly. You should take a look at it here.
Writing the Ideal Caption for Instagram
There are some specific guidelines that you should follow when posting text along with images for your restaurant profile.
Having a friendly tone and a recognizable voice helps you to connect as a human being with your customers. Social media is a platform for discussion and connection, so each of your individual post should inspire some degree of interaction.
You should aspire to always be nice. Asking funny (and relevant) questions can encourage your followers to respond to your posts and interact with you directly.
Instagram has an algorithm that works exclusively with the comments that you receive. The more that you have, the more people that see your post.
Advertising special promotions for your followers can inspire activity to your account. The latest fashions have seen restaurants creating exclusive secret menu items only for Instagram users. No one else knows about them if they do not know it through the Instagram account. This type of content engages your audience, and they will feel privileged.
At the beginning of this paragraph, I mentioned that Instagram was designed to engage and connect with people. That is why it is an important step of this process to interact through comments the people post. Your responses show that this is an active profile designed to communicate with the public and make your brand better.
As somebody that is responding to comments made to their profile, it is important to respond to both the good and the bad. This is a positive approach to both users and the Instagram algorithms. You can get rewarded with better visibility by being more active with your customers and followers.
Instagram for Catering: The Best Stories for Your Brand
Instagram stories only exist in temporary 24-hour increments, but they give your restaurant an additional opportunity to reach its customers and earn a living.
As for your content, follow general guidelines for posts and ensure that you are publishing daily.
I would suggest using this story platform to publish user generated content as a form of saying thank you for choosing your company for their dining needs.
If you are in a more sympathetic or playful tone, you can always pay attention to how your customers feel through the use of surveys to stimulate their interaction. You can use interesting questions combined with quality images.
Two things that your story should always include are a geotag (which shows where you are for those that do not know), and hashtags. If you are concerned more with the content of the post, you can hide these hashtags by placing them in the corners of the stories that they’re not visible to the users.
You can also choose to give more visibility to the stories by creating a section in your Instagram for highlights. You will insert the most relevant content for your restaurant in this space.
Now that you know how to take advantage of Instagram to promote your activities, start putting yourself in the game by creating your profile.
Instagram could be a professional goldmine when used appropriately, but it does require a devotion of time and attention to get the results that you are hoping for.
Making Your Restaurant Instagram-Friendly
Today, dining is not just eating food, but living in experience. It is involving design, colors, food presentation, and the friendliness of your staff. The new generation is looking to understand the heart of your restaurant and what it represents.
Now you have the task of making a restaurant something that is Instagram friendly.
How do you make a restaurant “cool” enough to attract people that consistently use social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook?
Not to worry, Colton Bollinger, the CEO of an Instagram Marketing Agency, has identified 11 specific rules that applied to attracting business on Instagram.
Let’s take a look together.
#1 – Color, color, and more color
There is no Instagram without vibrant colors.
A colorful location attracts attention from passing people, and also shows a strong and unique aesthetic. This can differentiate you from the competition, but it above all gives you attractive content on Instagram.
If you cannot mess with the entire place, you can always rely on the food. This is especially true for sweets. Chromatic mix is super interesting and love by Instagram.
#2 – Unicorns, fairies, magic and glitter of course
Staying with the theme of attracting colors, bright images attract the attention of young influencers.
Consider for a moment how Starbucks rode this food trend on social media by creating a frappuccino dedicated exclusively to unicorns. The success of this drink was so incredible that a hair influencer @hairbymisskellyo dedicated the color of her hair to this drink. That’s free marketing for Starbucks.
#3 – Bright environments
Now let’s take a look at the decor of your restaurant.
You should always seek to choose bright and light toned environments, as this adds a sense of cheerfulness and fresh air to the space. Additionally, natural light over artificial light create effects like shadows which provide a better backdrop to potential photographs.
You can find a good example of this in the Moleskine Caffè in Milan. With minimal decor, the shades of white and touches of color accompanied by large windows allow for patrons to view the foot traffic of Milan. This has now become a perfect place to grab a coffee and take a picture.
#4 – More Plants – Viral on Instagram
You should always be looking to furnish your facilities with healthy plants. This provides a subconscious statement of freshness and genuineness. In addition to the furnishings, a touch of green in the room provides evocative and unique shots for your Instagram account.
Need an example? The local Harlan and Holden Rockwell in Manila. This is a cozy establishment defined by numerous plans that decorate the interior of the structure.
#5 – Murals
What is the point of covering up your walls when you can paint them? Murals are real art form and can be easily edited with the changing of the times. You can cover your walls by commissioning artwork from local Instagram artists and other local talent. This provides character that becomes irresistible for those visiting your restaurant not to take a selfie.
The El Catrin Destileria Restaurant in Toronto has covered every wall with graffiti and murals. This has drawn in hordes of people, including many Instagram influencers.
#6 – Specialty Packaging
You should not limit your experience you share on Instagram to the food consumption happening in the restaurant, but also to your delivery services.
Customized packaging can help set you apart as a unique and different option from the masses using traditional and boring packaging products.
A fast food chain, Burgez, is famous for super pop packaging. For a few days now he has begun a campaign with a singer-songwriter Coez to make packaging even more custom. The result?
Customers are eating it up and spending lots of time interpreting their take.
#7 – The Right Lighting for the Best Photo
You should always choose to light up the room with multiple sources of light above the tables. This enhances the look of your dishes and makes them more Instagram worthy to those eating them at the tables.
Give your space and natural light if possible, the shots that get taken in this atmosphere will change based on the times of the day. This can really give a unique look to the same dish multiple times.
The Bar Luce di Fondazione Prada in Milan, besides having exceptional décor on the inside (colors, design, tiles, neon, wallpaper) also has massive stained-glass windows illuminating the dining area in a perfect, evocative manner.
Through this guide, we have seen many things that are important to attracting customers to your restaurant through the social media platform Instagram.
I would like to emphasize once again how consistency is vital to this success on any platform.
Anything that you do on Instagram must be constant and consistent. If you cannot take the time and devote it appropriately, I would suggest hiring someone exclusively to take care of this process. while it might be an initial investment, the return should be huge. I wrote another guide designed to help you succeed on Facebook as well. Make sure to check it out.
That’s all for today. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to ask me by leaving a comment below. I can answer them as soon as possible.